Just because I hadn’t seen or heard from Lezlie in decades doesn’t mean I had “disappeared”. It more likely meant we had little in common. Neither of us initiated contact for 45 years. And even in 1971, the last time I saw Lezlie in person, on the sidewalk of Saint Catherine Street West in downtown Montreal in front of Westmount Square, neither she nor I asked for the other’s phone number after a fairly long chat before we parted ways, never to communicate again until after Marina’s death.
My cousin and her husband, however, and the Welham girls, had a couple of things in common. They both shared a deep concern for Marina’s Will, and they both had a cozy bond with the British Columbia Public Guardian and Trustee who had stolen control of Marina’s Will in order to disinherit me.
My cousin Lezlie was the daughter of my Uncle John, Marina’s older brother. I always liked Uncle John. He was tall, handsome, had an infectious laugh and a wonderful smile. He was indispensable on family poker nights around the dining room table.
Uncle John always preceded the first shuffle with a broad smile and a “big pile” gesture, predicting that the poker pot (made of nickels and dimes salvaged from Grandma Caroline’s dresser where she kept her grocery change) would end up on his side of the table.
Cousin Lezlie and I, however, were not close as children, despite Lezlie’s self-serving allegation to that effect in the emails we briefly exchanged when I found her gmail address on Marina’s obituary page at Earth’s Option.
Cousin Lezlie & her husband Graham — armed with lawyers who were supposedly “looking for me” had avidly “advised” Marina on her Will. They were on a first-name basis with “Nerissa“, the PGT’s corrupt estate administrator, who as a “courtesy”, gave updates on the estate file to the Purcells’ lawyers.
The Welham girls, who wanted to be included in Marina’s Will (but had no right to contest the will in court in British Columbia), were also beneficiaries of “courtesy” when the PGT camouflaged them as my “siblings” by changing my surname to theirs in the course of one of their many rubber stamps obtained at the BC Supreme Court.
It’s great to have this photo of Graham. It’s from about the time my cousin Lezlie says that she, Graham and Graham’s nephew, a Vancouver lawyer, were giving Marina advice about her Will in conference calls with other lawyers.
According to my cousin Lezlie, in the few emails she sent before I woke up and stopped replying, they have lots of pets (“fur babies”), no real babies (no human children), and an orchid greenhouse at the back of their home. I once had to give up salad for two or three years to feed a poor cat that someone had abandoned. So I know that feeding animals is expensive. Maybe they needed Marina’s money to feed their “fur babies”.
A little research on my part led me to discover that Lezlie, a long-time member of the South Coast Orchid Society, and then of the Orchid Society of Southern California, had been named Hospitality Chair of the OSSC in 2018. A search of the society’s PDF newsletters turned up a lovely photo of Lezlie and the realization that orchid collectors, who tend to own greenhouses, also tend to collect flowering cacti.
Marina’s 28-year-old publishing venture has disappeared, along with the plants in her greenhouses. These were clearly special, rare and precious plants. “Nerissa”, as her confidants call her, lied through her teeth trying to put me off, but the reasonable question is this: did my cousin get the plants? And perhaps also the “business assets”, Marina’s decades of correspondence, customer lists, subscribers, advertisers, printed journals, PDF journals, books and Help Booklets, CD-Roms and galleys?
Is this why Christopher Benesch of Earth’s Option assured me that Marina had no real funeral, no ceremony, no celebrant, no guest book, no music, nothing? Was the real funeral hidden? Or perhaps short and sweet? Did the gold diggers all come to kick her off the pier and collect their share? Did they raid the house and take away the valuables? Because nothing but junk was left to be “evaluated” by the PGT’s hired “experts”. I speculate, but I think in these circumstances, speculation is necessary.
Here’s a bit more speculation. In one of her emails, Lezlie sent me a scan of the title deed to Marina’s home and land (my home and land), with Marina’s Will attached, and the PGT’s affidavit of Assets and Liabilities attached, from the Victoria Land Title office.
Presumably, the Purcells and their lawyers would have scrutinized the statement of assets and liabilities. But The Amateurs’ Digest and its 28 years of print and digital publications, as well as Marina’s hundreds of rare and valuable plant species, are nowhere to be found in that affidavit. Presumably, in the two years since they learned of Marina’s death, legal action would have been taken to compel the Public Trustee to account for the plants and the business assets. But nothing happened. Nothing that’s on the record, anyway.
So Lezlie and Graham, in spite of the lawyers at their command, including those clearly interceding with the PGT on their behalf, seem never to have noticed the missing business, the plants missing from Marina’s greenhouses.
You’d think the Moore-Purcells would be the first to notice that Marina’s business and plants were unaccounted for. Like Marina, they have a greenhouse behind their home; they visited Marina a couple of times and know she had greenhouses, a web site, plants and publications that she sold. Lezlie was the hospitality queen of the Orchid Society of Southern California, whose members collect orchids and cacti and also own greenhouses. And Lezlie’s husband Graham was featured with a huge cactus in bloom in Marina’s magazine, The Amateurs’ Digest, Volume 26, #5, May 2014.
Well, you can’t be on the ball all the time, now can you? On the other hand, you might not notice that the business and the plants had disappeared if you, or someone you knew, had acquired them. But again, I’m just speculating.
Now, presuming that a preliminary “division of the spoils” took place early in the Steal-a-Will game of the PGT, that would leave one thing to the Welham girls: The Amateurs’ Digest bank account, alleged by Nerissa Poon to be Roy Welham’s “sole proprietorship” bank account, implying that Roy owned Marina’s business … that had disappeared.
And Poon said as well, in emails to me, that the Welham girls were looking for property of Roy’s that he owned “solely” in his own name. The bank account being a “sole proprietorship” account would seem to qualify as “property” owned by Roy “solely” in his name. In other words, the Welham girls would have been looking for it. And a financial manager at a Montreal bank agreed with my suspicion that the TAD account had been used to siphon money to the Welham girls. And, of course, for that to happen, the property had to be liquidated, and the real heir had to be kept out of the way. The poor old lady in the rented basement room in Montreal was to be robbed of her inheritance.
How much did they get in Round One? And how much were they planning to get in Round Two, once the property had been sold? At which point, I caught up to them, and put a stick in their wheels for awhile.
However, as we’ll see in another episode, The Amateurs’ Digest didn’t belong to Roy; and the bank account wasn’t legitimate; it wasn’t based on any business registration filed with any government; and it was probably a favor from the bank manager to at least unofficially give Roy’s wife a business name for subscriber payments, conveniently to let Roy, Marina’s business manager (and a trusted C. A. from McGill and a former Director of Finance of Victoria General Hospital) deposit the payments for his wife’s publishing business.
Top-Photo Caption: Wealthy Orthopedic Surgeon Graham Purcell, husband of my cousin, shows off a huge flowering cactus plant at their home in California, which, according to my cousin Lezlie, has an orchid greenhouse attached. Photo source: Volume 26, #5, May 2014, The Amateurs’ Digest.