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1 July 2009 In Memoriam: Marianne G. Ainley, 1937–2008
C. Stuart Houston
Author Affiliations +

Marika Veronika Gosztonyi Ainley, AOU member since 1990 and Elective Member since 1996, was born in Budapest, Hungary, on 4 December 1937. She attended the Petrik Lajos Polytechnical College of Chemistry in Budapest, 1952–1956.

During the short-lived Hungarian revolution of October 1956, before Russian tanks captured Budapest and put an end to the resistance, Marika walked along the railway track into Austria. From there she flew to Sweden, where she had an uncle and cousins. In 1958, she gained immigrant status in Canada and married George Marton. They had a daughter, Vicky. Marika worked as a laboratory technician in industries in Montreal for four years and then as a university research assistant in chemistry. Meanwhile, she took evening classes and in 1964 obtained a B.A. in English and French literature from Montreal's Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University). She married David Ainley in 1966, and they had a son, Mark.

She continued as a chemistry laboratory instructor through 1978, and during this time her interest in birds increased. A fluently “trilingual” birdwatcher, historian, and biographer, Marika was a director of the Province of Quebec Society for the Protection of Birds for 22 years, a member of the editorial board of Tchebec for 10 of those years, and chair of the Society's research committee for 8.

In 1979, anglicizing her name to Marianne, she began a new career as a research assistant in History of Science at Concordia University. Her Master's thesis at the Université de Montréal, La professionnalisation de l'ornithologie américaine, 1870–1979, in 1980, was followed in 1985 by her 320-page Ph.D. dissertation at McGiLl University, From Natural History to Avian Biology. That year she became a postdoctoral fellow in history at McGill. With a research grant from the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council, she examined the life of William Rowan, the first professor of zoology at the University of Alberta and a pioneer in photobiology. Her biography of Rowan, Restless Energy, was published in 1993. She also edited Despite the Odds: Essays on Canadian Women and Science in 1990.

Marianne moved into Women's Studies at Concordia University in 1991 and was principal of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute through 1995. That year she moved to the new University of Northern British Columbia at Prince George, where she became a full professor, Chair, and then Dean of Women's Studies until her retirement in 2002.

For the 1991 Montreal AOU meeting, Marianne organized a symposium on the history of Canadian ornithology. Her memorials for Elective Members Margaret H. Mitchell and Louise de Kiriline Lawrence appeared in The Aukin 1990 and 1992. She contributed “The Emergence of Canadian Ornithology—An Historical Overview to 1950” to volume 1 of Contributions to the History of North American Ornithology in 1995, the Eastern Screech-Owl entry for the giant Breeding Birds of Québec (1996), and four biographies to Keir Sterling's A Biographical Dictionary of North American Environmentalists (1997).

During an interval between treatments for a cancer recurrence, she enjoyed a two-week cruise on the Tahitian Princess. Near the Queen Charlotte Islands she obtained a superb photograph of a Peale's Peregrine Falcon sitting on the ship's guardrail. After two weeks in a hospice in Victoria, British Columbia, she died on 26 September 2008.

© The American Ornithologists' Union, 2009. Printed in USA.
C. Stuart Houston "In Memoriam: Marianne G. Ainley, 1937–2008," The Auk 126(3), 699, (1 July 2009).
Published: 1 July 2009
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