Remembering Margaret Fleck (1932-2019)

Jan 21, 2019

The Reverend Doctor Margaret Fleck devoted her life to serving the Anglican community. Her lifelong faith and interest in theological studies inspired gifts creating a chaplaincy and a chair in the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College.

Reverend Doctor Margaret Fleck

The University of Toronto and Trinity College communities are mourning the Reverend Doctor Margaret Fleck, a graduate of Trinity College (MDiv 1982 TRIN, Hon DD 2000 TRIN) who passed away on January 6, 2019. Fleck and her husband, U of T Professor Emeritus Jim Fleck (Hon LLD 2002, Hon DLitt 2010 TRIN) have given generously to the University and Trinity as both donors and volunteers.

“When the Rev. Fleck endowed first a chaplaincy and then a chair in Anglican Studies at Trinity, she was not just expressing gratitude for her own happy years as a student here,” says the Reverend Doctor Chris Brittain, Dean of Divinity and Margaret E. Fleck Chair in Anglican Studies. “She was also demonstrating her faith in a healthy future for theological studies at the College. We are honoured by her confidence and will do our best to fulfil her vision.”

“The Trinity community has long appreciated Margaret Fleck’s strong Anglican faith and loyalty to the College,” adds Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College. “Her service to the Anglican community is her true legacy. I offer sincerest condolences to Jim and the Fleck family on their loss.”

Ensuring stability and resources for Anglican students and theology scholars

In 1995, Fleck gave $500,000 to Trinity College to endow a full-time chaplaincy. The Humphrys Chaplaincy, named after her mother, ensures that Anglican students at her alma mater and across the University will always have help and encouragement to attend to their spiritual development.

Ten years later, she volunteered to co-chair Trinity’s $3-million Campaign for the Faculty of Divinity, wanting to do her part to ensure a firm financial footing for the theology program. Inspired by her commitment, her husband donated $1 million, describing his wife as “a force for good in the world.” The generous gift catalyzed the success of the campaign and endowed, in perpetuity, the Margaret E. Fleck Chair in Anglican Studies.

The Reverend Canon David Neelands (BA 1965 TRIN, MA 1966, ThD 1988) was Dean of Divinity at Trinity until 2017 and was the first chair-holder. He says that while the gift has boosted the Faculty’s ability to attract top scholars and ensure comprehensive training for students, Fleck’s contribution was also very personal: “Margaret was wonderful with people, and an inspiring member of the strong Divinity community at Trinity. This vital community connection is her legacy too.”

The Fleck family have also been staunch supporters of the Rotman School of Management, where Jim is a professor emeritus. They have named the Fleck Atrium, which is the central meeting place at the heart of the building, and have supported scholarships and bursaries not only at the Rotman School, but also at the Faculty of Music and University of Toronto Schools. “On behalf of all of us in the Rotman community, I offer heartfelt sympathies to Jim and his family,” says Dean Tiff Macklem. “We have lost a wonderful friend.”

The road to ordination and a lively life of compassion

Margaret Evelyn Fleck (née Humphrys) grew up in Winnipeg and London, Ontario, where she participated in cheerleading and dance as a student at Western University. She met Jim on a cheerleading trip to Montreal, and the couple married in 1953. Their young family moved frequently in the early years, living in Japan, France and Boston.

In 1966, the family settled in Toronto, and Fleck volunteered to run the youth group at St. Augustine of Canterbury church. As she became more involved, she was inspired to study theology, eventually completing her master’s degree at U of T. After her ordination in 1984, she served in several Toronto parishes, as well as volunteering extensively at Loft Community Services and with the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine.

She leaves her husband of more than 65 years, Jim Fleck; children Robert (BA 1987 NEW), Ellen, David and Christopher; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“Margaret Fleck’s warmth and energy were infectious,” says David Palmer, U of T’s Vice-President Advancement. “Her legacy in strengthening Trinity’s Divinity program will transcend time and help future students to opportunities for study and spiritual growth, just as she inspired, in person, everyone she met.”