RIP Will Pemberton - Latin Scholar and Father of 6 who Died from Cancer

The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars would like to express our condolences to the family of Will Pemberton, who passed away in the morning of August 20 after a 20-month battle with cancer.

Here is an excerpt from the Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Website:

Will is the husband of Mary (née O’Brien), and father to six young children. Their youngest child, Eleanor, was born only days before Will’s diagnosis in December 2019. He is the son-in-law of SWC board member Sheila O’Brien and artist and writer in residence Michael D. O’Brien.

Will and Mary lived in Barry’s Bay, near to the College, for a number of years before moving to Cape Breton in 2017. He taught Latin at the then-Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, he gave a fascinating talk here on medieval approaches to myth, comparing the Prose Edda with Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Will was a brilliant scholar and a voracious reader, known to all who met him as incredibly learned, quick, witty, and curious. He is dearly missed.

A close friend of the family, John Jalsevac, has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help Mary and the children at this difficult time, and we invite our supporters to consider making a donation. John writes:

In Will’s last e-mail to me, two weeks before he died, he asked me to do what I could to help ease the way for Mary and the children, who face many difficult days and practical challenges ahead.

As those who know the Pembertons are no doubt aware, the family’s needs right now are very significant.

Four years ago the family took a big risk, leaving their home in Ontario, and moving to two hundred acres of rugged, uncleared land near the coast of Cape Breton, with the dream of starting up a market farm.

The first few years in Cape Breton were dedicated to putting basic infrastructure in place and acquiring a small herd of cattle. Will’s cancer diagnosis came right when the farm was just beginning to turn the corner, and to approach the point of being able to generate income. At that point, everything was put on hold.

The Pembertons have always lived in extreme simplicity. The house in which the family is currently living is a small, three bedroom, one bathroom century farmhouse, which is in need of significant repairs.

With six children at home, including a toddler, it is impossible to imagine Mary being able to work right now, while keeping the household running. The difficulties are compounded by the fact that in the rural location where they are located, there is very little available in the way of work.

In one of my last conversations with Will, he said that one of his constant prayers was simply a prayer of trust, placing the future wellbeing of his family in God’s hands.

I know that so many people have been so generous with the Pembertons already. But my dearest hope, and something I promised Will I would try to help make happen, is that many hands will come together and answer Will’s prayer, helping carry the enormous burden that Mary is carrying on her shoulders right now. If all goes well, perhaps we can give her the gift of the breathing room that she needs to be able to really think about and plan for the future, and to make the decisions that are best for her and her family, without financial need putting up roadblocks every step of the way.

Will was such a dear, dear friend to me. Dearer than words can express. I know so many others felt the same way. Nothing can possibly make up for his loss. But perhaps we can help fill the void in the lives of Mary and their children by surrounding them with our love.

To make a donation, visit the GoFundMe page here: