With great sadness, we announce that Marlin passed away peacefully at Carewest Dr. Vernon Fanning Centre in Calgary at the age of 51. His health had taken a turn 3 years ago and he had been in hospital since Spring 2011. He was born in Edmonton February 25, 1963, to Roy & Nora Styner. He was raised in Red Deer, graduating from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School in 1981. With visions of entering college in fall ’81, Marlin was in a car crash and sustained a serious spinal cord injury. Through the gracious support of family, friends & the community, he persevered and received his Business Administration diploma from Red Deer College.
Marlin was not one to accept charity without giving back, so as a quadriplegic, he became an avid volunteer, and through encouragement from his mentors, embarked on a career in public speaking. He has spoken to close to 1,000,000 youth about Injury Prevention on behalf of the PARTY Program (Prevent Alcohol & Risk Related Trauma in Youth), Junior PARTY, and SMARTRISK Heroes. Other passions Marlin spoke on to adult audiences were: Universal Design; Motivation; Overcoming Personal and Physical Barriers; Transition; Empowerment; and Traveling with a Disability. He served on numerous boards of directors, task forces, advisory boards and committees — locally in Red Deer, provincially, and nationally, including: City of Red Deer; Red Deer College; Traffic Safety Board, Alberta Ministry of Infrastructure; Alberta Paraplegic Foundation; Human Resources & Development Canada; Neurotrauma Connections 99; Alberta Disabilities Forum; Red Deer Safety City; Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation (ACAT); Canadian Transport Agency (CTA); Provincial Barrier Free Transportation Committee; Spinal Cord Injury Collaboration Initiative; Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities; Red Deer South Provincial Progressive Conservative Association.
After volunteering a number of years on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Paraplegic Association, he was offered a staff position and worked for the organization in Community Development, Government Relations and Advocacy until September 2008. A council member since 2005, he was appointed Chair of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities in July 2008. He was also a consultant for Universal Design & Barrier Free Access.
He was chairman of his 10 & 20-year Reunions for High School. In 1995, he was inducted into The Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Hall of Fame. In August of 2004 he was appointed as 1 of 100 Alberta Centennial Ambassadors for the province’s Centennial Celebrations in 2005. In May of 2005, Toastmasters International presented him with their “Communication and Leadership Award”, the highest award presented to a non-Toastmaster. That same year he was also awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal for Service to the Community, and he became an Ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation. In 2006, he was a co-founder and the spokesperson for the Alberta Disability Coalition, a grassroots movement to mobilize the disability community to become active politically, and to elevate the status of disability issues with the leadership candidates of the Alberta PC Party and ultimately, the next Premier. In June 2007, he was awarded the highest honor bestowed by the City of Red Deer, the Mayor’s Special Recognition Award for Humanitarianism. In 2012, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities presented their National Award “In recognition of Marlin’s valued contribution to the Disability Rights Movement in Canada”. That same year, Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities created an award upon conclusion of his Council Chair position. “The Marlin Styner Achievement Award recognizes Marlin’s passion and commitment that he would bring to all his endeavors.” In December 2013, Rick Hansen presented the 25th Anniversary Relay Medal to Marlin for being a Difference Maker.
Marlin was a sports fan, enjoyed spending time with family & friends, playing cards & games, travel, reading, music, singing, dancing, sailing, writing, and public speaking. He took an extreme interest in promoting the message that “90% of all injuries are predictable and preventable”. He always told people, “A person in a wheelchair is just that — a person — they’re just in a wheelchair. We have the same hopes, dreams, fears, drives, and desires as everyone else.”
Marlin’s life was very fulfilling and he always took time to “smell the roses”. He will be lovingly remembered by his devoted wife of 11 years and best friend, Diane Gramlich; his parents, Roy & Nora Styner; brothers Leland (Ellen) Styner & Parker (Carina) Styner; nieces Ellysa & Jenny Styner; his in-law family; numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and a wealth of friends. Marlin was predeceased by his grandparents (Ernie & Emma Wudel and Louis & Blanche Styner), as well as several aunts & uncles.
The family wishes to thank the caring medical staff, nurses, doctors, & volunteers of Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary General Hospital, Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (ICU & Unit 31) Peter Lougheed Centre, and Carewest Dr. Vernon Fanning Centre (Chronic Complex Care Program) for assisting Marlin through his medical journey over the past 32 years.
A celebration of Marlin’s life will take place on Monday, March 10, 2014 at Sheraton Red Deer Hotel, 3310 – 50 Ave, Red Deer, AB T4N 3X9, at 2:00pm (Linda Ervin, United Church Minister, officiating).
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make memorial contributions may do so to the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta), #103, 4719 – 48 Ave, Red Deer, AB T4N 3T1.