School trustee and former city councillor Shirley Timm-Rudolph, who spent 17 years serving residents of northeast Winnipeg, is dead at 57 after a year-long battle with cancer.
Timm-Rudolph, who spent 13 years on Winnipeg city council before serving another four as a River East Transcona School Division trustee, succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma early Sunday morning.
Friends and former council colleagues praised her as a strong person and caring politician who was passionate in her beliefs and served as a strong role model for female politicians at a time when sexism still pervaded city hall.
Timm-Rudolph first sat on council from 1986 to 1992, when she represented the former ward of Springfield Heights, which was dissolved when the number of electoral jurisdictions in Winnipeg was reduced. From 1995 to 2002, she represented Transcona.
"When I first came on council, other councillors would ask me to make coffee," she told the Free Press in 2002, adding she would even be asked to do the dishes after the dinners that used to take place prior to community-committee meetings.
"I’ve gone through good and bad times with (male councillors) and they know I’m not a wuss and dig deep to get projects done on behalf of my constituents."
Friend and former council colleague George Fraser said Timm-Rudolph "pushed through that pretty gracefully."
Mike O’Shaughnessy, another friend and former council colleague, praised Timm-Rudolph for overcoming long odds, noting she was a teenage single mother who rose to become one of the city’s highest-ranking politicians. In the ’90s, she sat on then-mayor Susan Thompson’s executive policy committee.
"She had a pretty tough life and she was pretty tough," O’Shaughnessy said. "On council, she really cared about people and was very involved."
Current Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt praised his one-time opponent for fighting for south Transcona drainage improvements that included a popular water-skiing site now known informally as Lake Shirley.
Timm-Rudolph ran as a federal Liberal candidate in Winnipeg-Transcona in 1988 and made a run for mayor in 2004, finishing seventh in a race won by Sam Katz.
She completed her political career as a school trustee in Ward 5 of the River East Transcona School Division.
"Shirley was a fighter who battled her cancer to the end. We’re shocked and saddened by this news. She will be missed at the board table," River East Transcona board chairman Peter Kotyk said in a statement.
Fraser praised Timm-Rudolph for organizing meetings of former city councillors. "She was the glue that held together a lot of people," he said.
Timm-Rudolph is survived by her husband, Ed, her daughter, Teena, and three grandchildren. A service is planned for May 23, family spokeswoman Cynthia Ryan said.