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Marion Marshall Lash

Devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister, accomplished businesswoman. Born Jan. 22, 1941, in Scarborough, Ont. Died Dec. 23, 2011, in Toronto during surgery, aged 70.

Marion Lash was always smiling, telling a good story or making a lightning-quick retort. She was sharp as a tack, perceptive and forever thinking outside the box.

The second of three girls, Marion was born in Scarborough, Ont., to Joyce and Charles Marshall. At 16, she spent the summer working in the dining room at Camp Hurontario, where Tony Lash was a counsellor. The attraction was instant. Both excelled in sports and were natural leaders – Tony was associate head prefect at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ont., and Marion was head girl at St. Clement's School in Toronto.

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Three years later, in 1960, they were married. Settling in Toronto, they lived, worked and played together while raising three boys: Peter, John and David. Marion went to teachers' college and taught for two years, then became a stay-at-home mother.

In 1973, she and Tony founded TIL Systems Ltd., known for networking the Toronto Stock Exchange's Computer Assisted Trading System (CATS), and later a second company, Beacon Wireless Solutions. Marion handled day-to-day operations as TIL's chief financial officer while Tony was the technical innovator.

TIL grew to more than 200 employees with branches in Paris and New York. Affectionately known as "The Dragon Lady," Marion was admired and respected for the high standards she promoted. She believed that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing well. Many of their clients were in the brokerage business, so she took the Canadian Securities Course. True to form, she scored the highest mark in Canada.

In addition to being a wife, mother of three and business manager, Marion ran the family's households in Toronto, the Bahamas and Craigleith, Ont. She was also a focal point in all decisions for the Lash family's summer complex in Muskoka (involving 17 families).

At 18, Marion was racing a SeaFlea on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka when the tiny speedboat reached more than 100 kilometres an hour and flipped – and she survived. While sailing to the Bahamas on a 37-foot sloop with Tony and his brother-in-law and sister, the Gulf Stream whipped into a frenzy from the aftermath of a hurricane – and she survived that, too. But three days before her 51st wedding anniversary, one month before her 71st birthday, Marion suffered cardiac arrest after a long aortic surgery. A light went out in many lives that night.

Her granddaughter Stefanie summed it up well when she said, "Marion made me feel special, loved and incredibly happy whenever I saw her or talked to her on the phone. Because of that, I always wanted to be around her doing anything – making dinner, doing chores, playing cards, you name it. She made everything fun."

By Gay (Grace) Marshall, Marion's sister.

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