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Community Profiles: Don and Marlene Driscoll

By John Kipp, Communications Director for the PBP Community Association

Don Driscoll was shaking his head as he walked out of the Western University campus bookstore one Spring day in 1966. He had just leafed through a required textbook for a Labour Relations Management course he needed to complete his MBA program. Don couldn’t believe the price they were charging. “It was outrageous!” says Don, “and I didn’t understand why I was required to take the course in the first place.” Upset over this obvious cash grab, Don decided to head over to the campus coffee shop to figure out where he would get the money. Inside, he saw his friend sitting down with another young woman and was invited to sit at their table. It was there that he was introduced to Miss Marlene Calvert.       

Marlene Calvert had already earned her RN at Western and was pursing graduate studies in Nursing Administration. “We talked for a while,” says Marlene “on a variety of subjects including the Vietnam war, Canadian politics, and the new Canada Pension Plan – and it all sort of clicked.” Both Don and Marlene were quite busy with their final semester of studies, and didn’t see each other much after that fateful day 55 years ago. But, once both were clear of their studies, the couple began a whirlwind romance. Says Marlene, “I think we had dated for three weeks and I remember Don driving us to Bronte Beach one day. It was there that we realized that we shared a love for boats and for each other.” The couple decided to get married that November and live in Burlington.

Don’s first job was in a Burlington plant that manufactured windows and laminates. Marlene had also found work nearby teaching obstetrics at the Mississauga General Hospital. Don had so impressed the company’s bank with his talent for improving the company’s performance that they arranged for him to interview for a CFO position at a struggling vinyl and plastics manufacturer in Cornwall. “I told them that I wanted the plant manager’s job instead,” says Don, “because that’s where the problems and opportunities were.” Moving was no issue for Marlene: “We decided early that we would follow Don’s career because I could—and did—find work immediately in all the cities we relocated to.” And, while Don grew his reputation as a capable senior executive for companies like Chubb Security and Molson’s, Marlene either taught, managed, or nursed at some of the country’s largest hospitals.  

In 1983, the couple and their three children moved to a farmette in the town of Erin, Ontario. The kids attended high school in Guelph, Marlene worked as Head Nurse of obstetrics at Guelph General, and Don was concocting a plan to launch a venture capital firm owned jointly by Molson’s and the North American Life company. The company, NAL Resources, had a mandate to take positions in emerging companies in the Western Canadian oil patch. But, by 1989 Don was commuting between Calgary and Toronto twice a week and it was starting to take a toll. It was  time to move West to Calgary.

The couple arrived in Calgary in 1990 and moved to a house in Mount Royal. Marlene took a position teaching at the Faculty of Nursing at U of C and Don continued to expand NAL’s holdings from his downtown offices. In 2002, the couple decided to move to the new Princeton Hall condominium development in Eau Claire. “By then,” says Marlene “we had bought a motorhome, a lot in Indio, and were planning ocean and river cruises, so we didn’t want to worry about maintaining a house while we were away.” But, things began to change for the Driscolls in 2005. On the day Don retired as NAL’s CEO in 2005, he was notified that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer. In 2008, Marlene would be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Unfortunately, Darlene would also develop an unrelated bone marrow condition which would seriously complicate her cancer recovery and require many surgeries. They were living in Kelowna at the time: “We had finally bought that boat together and enjoying the water,” says Marlene “and Don was recovering from his radical prostatectomy.” But in 2015, the couple decided to move back to Calgary where Marlene could be more active in her recovery and help others by volunteering with the Calgary Cancer Project. “Don and I are cancer THRIVERS,” says Marlene and they were focused on beating this and getting their lives back on track.  

The couple decided immediately on Bayview: “My youngest daughter, her husband, and her four children had moved there from Toronto in 2011 and it seemed like a great place to live,” says Don. Today, the couple enjoy spending time with their grandkids, friends, and Sydney, their Labradoodle. Marlene continues to volunteer at Nellie McClung and John Ware schools and Don was finally able to help the sale of NAL to Whitecap Resources in 2020. “We love this new neighbourhood,” says Marlene. “We didn’t find Bayview – Bayview found us!”



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