Behind the Bicycle

The distance Marion Wandio has travelled—on a bike and through life—has been great. Now, it’s the distance she is helping students travel that proves the greatest.

Sydney Tancowny - 06 July 2020


This is your bike—but the bike is not only yours. The frame belongs to your friend who suggested biking across Europe; the wheels to your boss who gave you months off work; the pedals to the couple that drove you across the country to the boat headed for Liverpool. And as you push down your foot, the wheels carrying you forward, you know: this did not begin here.

Marion Wandio is no stranger to adventure. A favourite is the time when she and her three friends biked 1000 miles across Europe in her early 20s, washing dishes at hostels in exchange for their lodgings and relying on the kindness of strangers to help translate foreign languages. But this is far from being Marion’s only adventure. From living in Germany to running a café in her 70s to winning contests with her crochet angels, Marion has seen, done and accomplished many things.

But these adventures were not done or set out on alone. Key people in her life helped Marion achieve and experience what she has. Her boss gave her four months off to travel Europe, her husband was relocated to Germany as part of the Air Force, and her mother taught her how to crochet.

To Marion, education is much like the opportunities these people gave her. With a long career as a registered nurse, Marion is grateful for her own education—even though she disliked studying. “I was never a great student. I swore when I earned my RN I’d never study again, it was awful,” said Marion. Regardless, after a years-long hiatus working as an RN, Marion was required to take a refresher course to return to work. This was when she was introduced to Augustana Campus.

Now, years later, Marion has decided to create a legacy for the campus through a bequest in her will.

Marion has a long history of supporting the education of others. She came to Augustana so that she could return to work and support her son through university. This dedication to helping students achieve their goals has also extended to her grandchildren, family friends, the Camrose library and, of course, Augustana students.

Marion’s support of Augustana began eight years ago when she established the Michael Wandio Augustana Bursary in memory of her late husband. A matching pair, education was equally as important to Mike. Even so, he had to start working immediately after finishing the eighth grade: “He was never able to get as much education as he wanted,” said Marion. “There are so many intelligent and motivated people who want to continue their education but who don’t have the resources.”

Through her bursary, Marion is able to support students in situations like Mike. With her planned gift, Marion will further support Augustana students, helping their education and opportunities for adventure flourish, even after she’s gone. “I’m fortunate that I am able to help people, and it makes me feel especially good to support students in need of a helping hand,” said Marion. “Education gives you everything. It opens the world to you.”

When Marion and her friends returned to England after months of travel, they sold their bikes. Perhaps the next people to buy them also used them to ride across the continent. Perhaps these bikes became commuter bikes. One thing is certain—Marion’s adventures did not end when she boarded the boat to return home.

Today, Marion’s still looking for adventure. And now she’s also helping others on their way.