Marilyn Ann Pocock was a well-known dog lover throughout her life and even though she passed away last year, that love for her four-legged friends will carry on thanks to a very large donation from her estate.
A former phys-ed teacher at Eastview Secondary School in Barrie, Pocock died Nov. 26, 2021 following kidney failure. Her estate has donated more than $745,000 to the Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund through the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) Pet Trust at the University of Guelph to change the face of animal cancer.
Michelle Meadows was a former student of Pocock’s who later helped care for her.
“As a teacher, there was no doubt she ran the class,” Meadows said during a gathering Monday at a south-end home. “She was stern but fair and you could tell she cared about the students and the job. I later became her nurse when she became ill.”
Pocock never married and had no children, so the estate going to her love of animals was no surprise to Meadows.
“Being her nurse, I learned a lot about her. It was a little odd taking care of her at first because she helped me learn so much through high school,” Meadows said. “But her love for Splash and all animals was always a topic of conversation.
"This is definitely a lot of money, but it doesn't surprise me at all she gave it all."
Pocock had many dogs throughout her life and loved them all, but her last dog, a golden retriever named Splash, was her pride and joy.
Gayle Rushtin was a friend and the executor of Pocock’s estate. Rushtin's family has even taken on caring for Splash.
Rustin said the decision to leave the sizable donation was an emotional one.
“More emotional than I expected it to be. She devoted her entire life to her students, then her dogs and now she has dedicated so much to the future care of other pets,” Rushtin said Monday.
Kim Robinson, who is a director at the OVC, said this is certainly one of the largest — if not the largest — donations Smiling Blue Skies has ever received.
“This will have a huge impact on what we can do at the college, which is supporting research, learning and health care of cancer in dogs,” said Robinson. “We are blown away by this donation and very grateful for it.”