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Longtime Calgary marriage commissioner Nomi Whalen dies

WATCH: Nomi Whalen, a trailblazing Calgarian, passed away this week at the age of 87. Joel Senick looks back at the mark she left on the city.

The family of well-known Calgarian Nomi Whalen announced on Friday that the 87-year-old had passed away.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Whalen came to Calgary in 1957. She served as a Calgary councillor, was a founding member of the Alberta Human Rights Commission and conducted over 6,000 wedding ceremonies during her time as a marriage commissioner.

Whalen died on Thursday, surrounded by her family.

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In an email statement, her son Tony Whalen said a private graveside memorial will be held in Canmore, Alta., for immediate family and close friends. She will be laid to rest next to her late husband, longtime Calgary broadcaster Ed Whalen, who passed in 2001.

A public celebration of life will follow at a later date.

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“She touched so many — innumerable lives — that even my whole family can’t possibly track,” Whalen said.

Tony said his mother was called “rocky marshmallow” by his father and her close friends for having a strong exterior but being soft and caring at her core.

“She was compassionate, and she was loving and her bark was a heck of a lot worse than her bite.”

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“She was performing unofficial same-sex celebrations before same-sex marriage actually became legal in Alberta and she was really proud of that,” he added.

Nomi is survived by a brother, five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Nomi’s name to the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC).

Dr. Dean Vause, the group’s executive director, said the Whalen’s were instrumental in keeping AARC in operation through the years.

“She’s just a very special person and you could feel it and you could feel her support and her care,” Vause said.

“We just feel so honoured and blessed that they would support us, but that’s the type of people they were in this community, just icons.”

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