Industry veteran Mary Black dies at 80

Mary Elizabeth Black of Big Cedar Estates in Oro Medonte, Ontario, printing industry veteran and owner of Mary Black Recruiting, lost her heroic battle with cancer on Friday, July 5, 2019 after spending her last moments with her family. This is not only a loss for the printing industry, but a sad moment for anyone who knew this amazing lady. Below are some edited comments from her obituary, including a look back at some of her remarkable achievements.

Mary Black’s signature wide-brimmed hat was only exceeded by her equally wide smile.

There’s no doubt that Mary’s signature fashion statement was her wide-brimmed hat and her equally wide, and seemingly omnipresent, smile. She never took “no” for an answer and her motto was “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” She was a force to be reckoned with and made a difference in the lives of all who knew her. In 1967 as a single mother of two young girls, she started her career as a technical illustrator and art director in the publishing industry, then made a move to Graphic Litho Plate as a sales representative. During that time, she also went to night school, earning a BA in Psychology from York University in 1976. After a successful career in prepress sales, Mary decided to start her own company – and in 1985 Colour Technologies was born. Over the next 15 years, Colour Technologies became one of the top film houses in Canada.

In 1996 Mary blazed a new trail as Professor and Chair of Ryerson University’s School of Graphic Communications Management (GCM), where she developed management trainees for the printing and communications industry. During her 10 years at Ryerson, she was the force behind the creation of GCMs new home, the Heidelberg Centre, which made the school a focal point for the printing industry across the country. After completing her tenure at Ryerson, Mary knew she had more to give and became a leading recruiter for the printing industry by establishing Mary Black Recruiting. This was a natural evolution for her because of the many long relationships she had built with her past students and the industry overall.

Mary was also very active in the printing industry as President, Director, Founding Director and Advisor for numerous industry associations. She was the recipient of the 1992 Toronto Sun Woman on the Move Award and the 1993 YWCA Woman of Distinction Award. She was nominated in 1994 by the University of Toronto as Female Entrepreneur of the Year. Graphic Monthly Magazine named Mary Printer of the Year for 2005. Mary was also conferred the title of Professor Emerita, Ryerson University in 2006.

In 2009, Mary found her true love Ronald Roy and they married in 2015. Over the next few years they traveled from Australia to South Africa – and many places in between. Mary will be missed by her husband Ron and daughters Heather Black (Brad), Brenda Slater (Brian) and Shelley Roy (Jeff). She leaves behind grandchildren, Deanna, Kevin (Trisha), Devon, Jake, Josh, Sydney Jacob, and her great-grandchild Kattaleya, along with her brother David Anderson (Charlene), and her niece Christine (Dan), and nephews David (Wendy) and Andrew (Lara) and their children.

The family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to help build the Mariposa House Hospice in Orillia, Ontario. Mary was very proud of her part in building Ryerson’s GCM School, and so we know it would make her smile to know she was contributing to the building of a hospice, her  If you would like to make a donation on behalf of Mary Black, please contact Carson Funeral Homes at (705) 326-3595.

Diana Varma.

My fondest memories of Mary Black

By Diana VarmaB.Tech., MA, Graphic Arts Magazine Columnist and Contract Lecturer at Ryerson University’s School of Graphic Communications Management, Faculty of Communications & Design, in Toronto.

 From the moment I met Mary Black, I knew she was a very special person. Mary’s passion for the Graphic Communications Management (GCM) program at Ryerson and the printing industry convinced me (and hundreds of others) that this was a great place to be. Within the first 10 minutes of her recruitment presentation (for a university program I hadn’t heard of until 20 minutes prior), I was sold. That was 16 years ago – and I haven’t left since!

My most recent, and perhaps fondest, memory of Mary was at the GCM Awards Night in November of 2018. We sat and chatted before the ceremony began. I was pregnant with my second daughter and, knowing that Mary has two girls, I asked her what advice she had for me. Without hesitation she responded “give them self-esteem.” Reflecting back on that night, this is something she not only helped her daughters realize, but she helped me develop a strong sense of myself through her leadership and her actions. She taught me to be confident in my worth, not only as a student in university, but as a female professional in a male-dominated industry. Mary was never afraid to be the only woman at the boardroom table, and confidently ask for what she wanted. She had gumption. She was spirited and full of life and a force to be reckoned with. Mary, I speak on behalf of all of those whose lives you’ve touched in the industry and beyond – we’ll always miss you.




Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.