Midge Oliver remembered for her contribution to running scene
The road running community is mourning the passing last week of Marjorie “Midge” Oliver.
A longtime participant in local road running and cross-country circuits, Oliver ran about 40 times in the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby.
She came to Bermuda from Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1972 to work as a nurse at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where she stayed for 43 years before retiring in 2015.
It was here in Bermuda where she met her husband, Bob Oliver, also well known on the running scene who is also from Aberdeen. The couple married in 1978 and have a daughter, Amanda.
Oliver died on September 8 at the age of 71, having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
“The end came very suddenly,” husband Bob said. “She had Alzheimer’s for a long time, about six or seven years, and it was gradual downhill.”
Oliver said his wife enjoyed her years working as a nurse, and also her time as a regular participant in the races and on the tennis courts
“When she retired at age 65 we began to notice there were signs of memory loss,” he said. “She had worked in different areas at the hospital, starting in the general wards and was happy helping her patients.
“We met at a party a year or two after she came here. Somebody said there is a girl from Aberdeen over there and I went over and said I’m from Aberdeen, too, and we never looked back.”
Midge was not only a participant but also served as an administrator, including as president of Mid-Atlantic Athletic Club for a couple of years. She was also race director of local races and organised the Perrier 10-miler.
“She ran the 24th of May race about 40 times, possibly more than anybody else,” Bob said. “She started in 1975-76 and kept going right up to to 2016 or 2017.
“She never won the big races like May 24 but she ran a 3:14 marathon time, which was pretty good. You’ve got to be pretty serious to run 7½-minute miles for 26 miles. She did that in the Penn Relays marathon.
“She also played hockey in the early days and then played badminton and was in a Bermuda team that went down to Jamaica in the early 1970s.
“She was the first lady to win the ladies division of the first triathlon in Bermuda, so she was a really good all-round sportsperson. A good nurse, a good wife and very popular and well liked.”
Debbie Butterfield, a top runner in local races, remembers Oliver as a member of MAAC from the early days.
“She was involved with the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Club when we got it started and participated in everything, always doing cross country,” Butterfield said of the early years of the club in the mid-1970s.
“Every year she ran in the 24th of May, she never missed it. We all have wonderful memories of her and those were good times when we started that club.
“We did the fun runs at Botanical Gardens and then she and Bob started doing that and all the events that we put on. She was very much a part of the running community and she will be missed.”
Butterfield added: “She was a wonderful nurse and the whole nursing community will be saddened by the loss of Midge. Our thoughts are with Bob and her daughter, Mandy.
“She also attended Christ Church in Warwick and was very active there. The church gave her some flowers and I had the privilege of taking them to her on Monday, two days before she passed.”
Adrian Robson, a retired former sports editor at The Royal Gazette, became good friends with the Olivers and had fond memories of road racing in Bermuda.
“I’ve known them for almost 50 years and I went to their wedding in the 1970s,” he said. “We ran together many times and Midge was just a wonderful person and everybody knew her.
“She ran the May 24th more than anybody else, she did it every year, and I believe she was the first female to win the triathlon back in the Seventies. The thing about Midge was that she was so popular with all the people through the cross-country races she did.
“She never missed a race and was always willing to help. She was highly respected as a nurse and so it’s been sad to see her not be able to do the things she used to do.
“It’s been a hard time for Bob. I think Bob will have some fond memories as will other people. She will be remembered for being so popular and so vibrant.”