The Advisory: Volume 8, Issue 5, December 2010
Eulogy for Tom Mayson, QC: February 1, 1928-October 18, 2010
By Justice A.H.J. Wachowich
ON MAY 30, 1953, Tom Mayson, QC, took the oath to uphold the law before Justice Hugh John MacDonald. Tom became a lawyer after articling for a year to Ronald Martland, QC, who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
After that day in 1953, he commenced a career in the profession of law that in the eyes of his peers was enviable. He was more than noble and honourable from that day forward until April 30, 2008, when he retired from the profession.
For 55 years, he made remarkable achievements including being the Managing Partner from 1959 until 1982. His duties included managing the newly established office in Calgary. All of his time in the profession was with the firm of Milner Steer Dyde Poirier Martland, and Layton as it was then named. Now the firm is called Fraser Milner Casgrain.
Tom Mayson was raised in Edmonton during the Depression years by his mother, who was widowed while Tom was still an infant. She worked as a housekeeper for Sandy Dyde’s mother so Tom was familiar with the senior solicitor by name. Ever-conscious of expenses, fortunately Mayson showed athletic prowess and was able to pay his university tuition one year by playing professional football. He graduated from the University of Alberta in 1952 with degrees in arts and law, applied to Sandy Dyde for articles and was accepted. Tom stated, “It is the only firm I ever considered and I have been here ever since.” He confined his practice to litigation and commercial law.
When at the University of Alberta, Tom was considered not only for his academic excellence but also for his athletic ability. He won many awards as a student which prompted the Faculty of Law to recently name a “group study room” at the Faculty to honour Tom’s memory.
He was the quarterback of the Golden Bear Football Team in 1948. The University of Alberta’s Athletic Department dropped the football program at the end of the year. The uniforms and equipment were sold to the Edmonton Eskimo Football Team which joined the Canadian Football League in 1949 and the Eskimos continued the tradition of wearing green and gold colors.
Along with the equipment and sweaters, four Golden Bear players joined the Eskimos including Tom. The other three were Peter Lougheed, who became a well known politician in our province; W. Kenneth Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta; and the late Jim McCrae who became a prominent criminal lawyer in our province.
Tom’s name became an answer to a trivia question, “Who was the first Canadian (non import) quarterback to play for the Eskimos.” Tom played only one year and decided to concentrate on his law studies. He was influenced in doing so as he wily stated, “I was only being paid about .05 cents an hour while I was on the Eskimo roster.” Besides football Tom also distinguished himself as a basketball player with the Golden Bears. His teammate at that time, the former Premier of our province, Peter Lougheed, stated: “He was always a team player - in whatever it was that he might be doing. He considered the team first.”
“Tom always showed up in a multitude of ways as a team player – be it in his law class where he was prepared to help others, his firm, sports, and his family life.”
And the retired Chief Justice W. Kenneth Moore stated: “Tom was a great friend, a skilled lawyer, and a gentleman. I always enjoyed his warm personality, his sense of humour and that wonderful smile. He enjoyed the respect of the entire Alberta Bar. We’ve lost a wonderful friend and a great guy who always went out of his way to help others.”
His former partner, Denny Thomas, now Mr. Justice Thomas of the Court of Queen’s Bench stated: “Tom could do it all – a complete lawyer who later in his career specialized in civil litigation and commercial law.” Justice Thomas noted that Tom was the last student and counsel to work with the giant in the legal profession – George Steer, Q.C.
Tom Mayson, this man of honour, also served his profession in other ways. He was elected a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta in January of 1980 and served for eight years. He was on the Discipline Committee when the actions of two notorious members of the Law Society almost bankrupted its insurance fund. He acted justly and with dispatch. This was recognized by the profession. It has been often said that the greatest honour bestowed upon a lawyer is to be elected as a Bencher by ones’ peers as this shows the trust the members of the legal profession have in the elected Bencher and you can expect that individual to represent them honourably and with total integrity. Tom also spent much time at his farm and cottage at Lac La Biche where he enjoyed those rural surroundings which provided him leisure and rest.
He was predeceased by his first wife Shirley in 1979 and his son Tom Jr. He is survived by his wife Pat, daughter Carmen, sons Brad, Ron and Doug, and his 10 grandchildren: Stephanie, Joffrey, Carley, Jennifer, Alex, Jessica, Mitchell, Tonisha, Brody and Forrest.
He left this earth being that honourable man respected by all who knew him and thankful in some way or another to have the opportunity to meet such a man of honour and we have become better individuals because of this.
I close by quoting from the Talmud: For no one can tell what trials and travails await a newborn child; but when a mortal dies in peace, we should rejoice, for he has completed a long journey, and there is no greater boon than to leave this world with the imperishable crown of a good name.
Tom Mayson left this world with that crown of a good name—a man of honour. Tom—you died in peace—may you now rest in peace.
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