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In memoriam
July 09, 2021

Dr. Marilyn Jeanne Sonley

Dr. Marilyn Sonley

Dr. Marilyn Sonley, a life-saving oncologist, dedicated to the welfare of children with cancer, has passed away in her 90th year, on July 9, 2021, following a lengthy illness.

Dr. Sonley graduated in medicine from the University of Toronto in 1955. From July 1, 1955, to June 30, 1956, she served as a rotating intern at Toronto General Hospital. Dr. Sonley then served as a resident and teaching fellow from 1959 to 1960 in pediatrics at the Children's Hospital through The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Health Center. After that, Dr. Sonley continued an extraordinary career spanning more than 30 years, which was all the more remarkable because it commenced when few women went into medicine.

She was a pioneering pediatric oncologist. She led the creation of childhood cancer divisions at Princess Margaret Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children, helping them become world-renowned centres of excellence. She is known as an extraordinary clinician to the children she cared for. She mentored and inspired the next generations of doctors in that field. Many former patients have approached family members in the past to share their stories of Dr. Sonley's caring and dedication with some remarking that Dr. Sonley always kept personal notes regarding each child and that she inspired her patients to live a full life.

While Dr. Sonley devoted much of her life to medicine, following her retirement she spent her summers on Balsam Lake and winters in Florida. She was an avid sailor, tennis player, played in an orchestra in Florida for many years, enjoyed riding her bike and hosting the family Thanksgiving weekend annually.

In February of 2021, Dr. Sonley was awarded the Order of Ontario in recognition of her outstanding contributions and achievements in medicine.

Dr. Sonley will be lovingly and respectfully remembered by family, many friends, colleagues and patients. Dr. Sonley was predeceased by her brother Bruce Sonley, sister-in-law Marjorie Sonley and nephew Larry Knight. She is survived by her loving sister Betty Marie Price, nephews David Sonley (Linda Gill Sonley), Donald Sonley (Jane Campbell), niece Jane Sonley (Paul Matcheski), great-niece Lesley Knight (Mike Minicucci), Vincent and Evelinh, great-nephews Adam Knight (Hannah) Hayden and Avery, Joshua Sonley (Melissa), Cameron Sonley, Corey Gill (Danielle) and Alexandra Campbell.

A special acknowledgement and heartfelt thank you to Dr. Sonley's care team: Dr. Kevin Workentin, Simcha Abraham, Sharin Nanji, Marietta Baloyot Villanueva, Valentina Ventura Hadloc and Jianina Anne Celine Montecillo. A celebration of life was held on July 21, 2021, at Giffen-Mack Funeral Home & Cremation Centre in Toronto. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Dr. Sonley's memory to SickKids Foundation. Online condolences can be placed at: