A long-time Toronto-area pro-life activist is being remembered as both a staunch supporter of the pro-life cause and a bright, articulate and strong woman.

Catherine Fox passed away after a lengthy illness on July 20 at the age of 71. She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Roy, as well as eight children and 21 grandchildren. Fox, a retired teacher, was recruited in a church basement to pro-life work some two decades ago by current Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes.

After that, she contributed in numerous ways to the cause, including picketing, fundraising, recruiting students to work for Campaign Life Coalition, participating in Operation Rescue and running for political office.

“She was a patient and prayerful woman, very dedicated to the cause,” said Hughes. “She put her shoulder to the wheel and did what needed to be done.” He also credited her with being the kind of supporter who made it possible for Campaign Life Coalition to celebrate 25 years of pro-life work this year.

“She always prayed for her children, and said God always answers your prayers, whether it’s yes or no,” added Hughes. “She was one of those solid, unsung pro-life people who made the whole thing work.”

Interim columnist Frank Kennedy remembered Fox’s courage and feistiness, particularly when the two were arrested along with dozens of other pro-life activists during an Operation Rescue demonstration at Henry Morgentaler’s former Harbord Street abortuary in Toronto during the late 1980s.

Appearing in court later, Fox bellowed, “That’s what you think,” when the magistrate hearing the case asserted that he was the only judge in the courtroom that day.

“It made the judge mad and the people laugh,” said Kennedy. “She was a remarkable woman. She never lost her enthusiasm for pro-life, though some did. It’s well worth remembering her contributions.”

Campaign Life Coalition finance manager Dick Cochrane said Fox was already a pro-life activist when he joined CLC’s staff. He later served as the financial manager for her political campaign when she ran for the Ontario Family Coalition Party in the last provincial election.

“She was bright, articulate and very strong,” said Cochrane. “She will be missed. She was a great pro-life supporter, although she was not able to be active in later years. She was always cheerful, even when in obvious pain.”

Recalling the election campaign, Cochrane said although Fox knew she wouldn’t win, she faithfully attended all-candidates meetings and articulated her viewpoints clearly. “She wanted to make a pro-life statement, and she certainly did,” he said. “Whenever she could, she presented a pro-life angle.”

It was not long after the election that Fox was diagnosed with her illness. She and her husband were avid gardeners and it was common to see their yard filled with lush foliage.

Hughes and Cochrane visited Fox for the last time in the palliative care ward of Scarborough General Hospital, and Cochrane again recalled her cheerful disposition.

“She was a deep believer in the sanctity of life. She was an active, informed Catholic who felt an obligation to do something. My impression of Catherine is of a warrior who fought the good fight to the bitter end.”