Betty Fox's funeral draws large crowds

Betty Fox's funeral drew large crowds of mourners to remember her legacy as a tireless anti-cancer crusader, prompting organizers to open another space for well-wishers to watch.
The CBC's Leah Hendry and Deborah Goble report on the memorial for Betty Fox. 4:32

Betty Fox's funeral drew large crowds of mourners to remember her legacy as a tireless anti-cancer crusader, prompting organizers to open another space for well-wishers to watch.

Fox's second-eldest son, Terry, was a cancer survivor who vowed to raise money for research by running across Canada in 1980, but his Marathon of Hope ended when his cancer returned and he died June 28, 1981.

For more than three decades, Betty Fox kept her son's cancer-fighting legacy alive by organizing runs, raising funds and playing a role in the opening of a foundation and research institute.

She died June 17 at the age of 73 of an undisclosed illness. The main funeral service  was held at Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam.

In addition to family, the memorial service was also attended by Premier Christy Clark, former VANOC CEO John Furlong, Paralympian Rick Hansen and Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore.

"I think her legacy is going to be about, you know, someone who stepped up," Moore said.

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"She didn't see this happening in her life and her son planted a seed and she has just grown that vision and never given up on that and dedicated her life to fulfilling her son's dream ... So that's the legacy and the legacy that we all need to do now is continue that dream. We need to continue to fight to find a cure for cancer."

Betty's son Darrell said his mother always worked to preserve Terry Fox's vision of a grassroots campaign to raise money for cancer, which she helped put into place through the annual Terry Fox Runs that are now held around the world.

Darrell said Betty and Terry's legacy will live on thanks to countless people who won't stop until cancer is defeated.

Public memorial viewing

Once the church filled up, members of the public were directed to a nearby recreation centre.

"The Port Coquitlam Recreation [Complex], just off Shaughnessy Street, will be the site for the gathering of all those people who haven't actually been invited to the service itself," said Brian Burke, minister of Trinity United.

"That service will be video-streamed so they will be able to take part in the full service."

Burke said it's an honour to have Fox's service at his church.

The casket is brought into Trinity United Church for Betty Fox's funeral on Saturday afternoon. Chad Pawson/CBC

"Betty's family no longer lives out in Port Coquitlam of course, they are out in Chilliwack, but they are very much thought of still as a Port Coquitlam family."

Burke said there were close to 300 invited guests for the service.

Those who weren't able to attend the service Saturday but want to share their memories of Fox are invited to sign a book of condolences, which will remain at the Port Coquitlam Recreation Complex until the end of June.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking mourners to make donations to the Terry Fox Foundation.

With files from The Canadian Press