Former Petrolia councillor, health care advocate Mary Pat Gleeson dies

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In 2017, Councillor Mary Pat Gleeson had a unique seat in the annual Canada Day Parade.

Former Petrolia councillor and one of the founders of Charlotte’s Task Force, Mary Pat Gleeson, has died.

Gleeson, according to friend Norm Sutherland, passed away Saturday.

Gleeson had worked in marketing and public relations for the film industry in Toronto but moved back to Petrolia and got involved in her community.

Sutherland got to know the outspoken and flamboyant Gleeson on Charlotte’s Task Force. Gleeson was one of the people behind the formation of the group which would take on the provincial government in 2005 when it first threatened to remove services, like the emergency department, from the rural hospital.

Sutherland says the group was a “major force in saving our Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital.”

Sutherland says Gleeson was full of energy. “If she were feeling down, you never knew it because she would have a quick quip that would lighten the air,” he says adding “They will know when she has arrived in heaven.”

Gleeson’s concern about the community’s health resources led her to be involved in the formation of what is now the Central Lambton Family Health Team. She was the chair of the board of the health team.

Gleeson was interested in all things Petrolia. She told people her family were Hard Oils – the term reserved for those who helped open the oil fields of Lambton County. She took great pride in her heritage and could often be seen at heritage events helping out.

Her love of her hometown led her to serve three terms on Petrolia council until 2018. In a social media post Sunday, former Mayor John McCharles called Gleeson caring and compassionate. “Never in my terms on council did I experience anyone more dedicated to the betterment of our town,” he says.

Gleeson filed her nomination papers, and her name was on the 2018 ballot, but just after the deadline for withdrawing the nomination, Gleeson decided to retire from municipal politics. She said at the time she wanted to spend more time on health care issues.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.