In Memoriam Letty Cox

In Memory of a great woman: Leticia (Letty) Cox, (1930-2018), founder of the Argyle Institute

It is with deep sadness that the Argyle has learned of the passing of our founding member Leticia Artola Cox on June 7th, 2018.

COX, Leticia Artola 1930 - 2018 (Published in Montreal Gazette on June 23, 2018)

In the early hours of Saturday, May 19, 2018, Letty peacefully passed, in her sleep, while in the home of her son, Tony, in the warm climes of Aruba, Netherland Antilles. Loving family surrounded. Beloved wife of the late John Robert Gordon Cox. Devoted mother and mother-in-law of Yvonne (Allen Annett), Tony (Lori Palmer), Sylvia (Robert Duquette) and John (Sylvie Munroe). Adored grandmother of Erin, Alexei, Stephanie, John Andrew, Gordie, Shane and Zara and step-grandmother of Nathan, Jody, and Ashley; and great-grandmother to Sebastien, Ilham, Jackson and Montgomery. Letty's vitality will continue to inspirit her family and friends in Canada and the Caribbean and beyond. No visitation. Graveside memorial service on Thursday, June 28 at 4 p.m. at the Hill House Cemetery on Brill Road, West Bolton, Quebec (Eastern Townships.)

Below are testimonials from many who knew and admired her:

June 28, 2018
I'm Tony, one of Letty's children.
To know Mum was to know someone with extraordinary vitality - someone at once fun and serious, at once engaged and reflective, at once challenging and reflective - someone who was always brave. Mum understood people, helped people, often profoundly, and inspired people. 
She understood me and helped me to know myself and love myself. She inspired me to want to be better and to do better, to try to be good and to try to do good. She was, and always will be, my hero.
I know that the lives of everyone here, and countless people elsewhere, were strengthened and expanded for knowing her and being known and loved by her.

Tony Cox, Letty’s son

June 28, 2018
I first met Letty in the late 70’s when I was studying Counselling psychology at McGill.
She was my supervisor and eventually my colleague. She was inspirational, kind, warm, generous and full of life and encouragement. She was down to earth and easy to talk to and consult with. I always wanted to emulate her and thought of her as my mentor.
As colleagues I was involved with Letty at the Argyle Institute till the time she retired. Her foresight in creating an Institute for therapy at reduced rates for clients and for teaching graduate students in the field was so important. With her experience in Cuba she set up an Institute that was not linked to any government organization so therapists could be the people most appropriate to run the service. This Institute is still running after 40 years. She implemented the importance of being volunteers and that is still going on. Everyone that I know who knew Letty professionally has been inspired and touched by her.
I still see her kind, open face and her laughter. She was full of life. I think of her as “a life well lived”. I will always remember her and admire her. She leaves a special legacy.

Carmela Mindel, Westmount QC

June 26, 2018
Letty was the inspiration and driving force behind the Argyle Institute which is still flourishing decades later. As a gifted clinician she helped countless couples and families in distress. As an enthusiastic teacher and leader, she inspired generations of students and colleagues. Her legacy is intact and she is remembered with great love.

Andrea McElhone, Montreal QC
Therapist at the Argyle Institute


June 28, 2018
I attended Letty's memorial last Thursday.  She was buried beside her husband in the peaceful cemetery beside a brook in the small town where she and her husband spent their retirement years. She was surrounded by her four children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren from around the world, such a tribute to a woman who nurtured and cherished the central role of family in the many of us whom she taught at the Argyle.  The establishment of the Argyle Institute is living memorial to her life.

Joan Keefler, PhD, Westmount QC
Therapist at the Argyle Institute

June 26, 2018
I worked with Letty and the Argyle Institute for 20 years. I have been very fortunate to have received the wonderful support and encouragement from both Letty and Bob (computer lessons). The long days and hard work Letty put into the Institute and MFT program is what I believe has made the great reputation and success the Argyle Institute enjoys today.
To all Letty's family, please accept my most sincere condolences.
Rest in Peace Letty.

Janet Shatilla, Kirkland QC
Former Argyle Institute secretary

August 20, 2018
When I was a nurse at Concordia Health Services in the 80’s, I attended one of Letty’s case presentations at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I was very impressed with her warmth and laughter and intelligence, and the fact that we shared a Caribbean background.

I immediately thought, I want to do what she’s doing, and I want her to be my therapist!  

In 1990, I started the Counselling program at McGill, and Letty was my very first instructor; I still have my note book. My late-in-life educational dream was finally coming true. Many years later, I was fortunate enough to have a rewarding private practice at the Argyle.
I am forever indebted to Letty for her guidance. What a model she was, and what a legacy she leaves.   Thank you, Letty

Pat Hardt, Montreal, QC
Retired therapist of the Argyle Institute

The Argyle Institute History 

The Argyle institute of Human Relations began in 1982 with the initiative of some of the members of the oldest mental health institution in Montreal, The Mental Hygiene Institute (MHI). The MHI movement was where mental health work began in North America, and Montreal was privileged to have had one. Before formalized psychiatry and other forms of psychotherapy had begun, MHI’s were the creation of concerned parents of the mentally disturbed and Medical Doctors who were also looking for solutions for their patients.

By 1945 psychiatry was being started at McGill and an understanding was reached that McGill would deal with the more severe disorders, and the MHI would work in preventative mental health. From that point forward there was a collaboration between the two institutions and The MHI was even housed in McGill buildings. From the efforts of the MHI came the first marital and family work done in Canada as well as the first Canadian center to be approved in training marital and family therapists, the first family life education courses, a child observational nursery program, and a research department. As well, McGill psychiatry residents did rotations there and were given an exposure to the MHI’s community efforts. The MHI’s work was largely funded by Centraide, and was guided by a board of well-known Montrealers who wanted to help the cause of community mental health.

The MHI did its work so well, that in 1980 the Quebec government decided that it would incorporate it into its existing services and the newly formed CLSC’s. At that point its worker’s salaries were taken over by the government, and their charter and charitable status were surrendered.

Some of the workers involved were apprehensive that the Government would only stress clinical work and that the other teaching and outreach programs would be sacrificed. And so, the Argyle was formed to reconstitute the efforts of the old MHI. After a year of planning, The Argyle Institute of Human Relations was launched in 1982 with a new charter and charitable status.

One of the leading lights in the new organization was Leticia Cox, Family Life Educator and Counsellor, who undertook to carry forward the work of training marital and family therapists at the Argyle that was begun at the Montreal Hygiene Institute. From the start the Argyle was a success. With a training program that qualified for American Association of Marriage and family Therapy recognition, programs for the public in mental health, and conferences for mental health professionals, the Argyle was quickly seen as a vibrant resource for the community.

From that starting point in 1982 the Argyle has grown in its membership of volunteers, mostly coming from graduates of their training programs. In addition to their initial marital and family work, they added an individual psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy program, a multilingual public clinic that works on a very reasonable sliding fee scale and presently works with almost 1200 people per year, a group that studied multicultural issues, an eating disorder clinic, a caregiver program that supports workers in difficult situations, and they are presently exploring the possibilities of having a child training program that would allow them to offer direct help to children and adolescents.

They have trained more than 600 post masters level therapists who have recognized the benefits of getting further training in psychotherapy beyond what their University level programs had prepared them for. During the last decade, the McGill connection has been revitalized since the Argyle Institute has also become an Internship site for McGill University Masters and Doctoral students in the Counselling Psychology Department and the Social Work department. As well it has become an accredited Internship site for Doctoral students in Psychology at Sherbrooke University, Université du Québec à Montréal, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, and Concordia University.

Almost all of their work was done with very little financial donation, and no government or university contribution, as had been available for the old MHI.

From their original home on Peel Street mansion, given to them rent free from McGill, they have had to find rental spaces within the community. Times have changed, and they can no longer rely solely on their internal membership for financial support. They have therefore started an active fundraising program that will hopefully provide them with resources that will enable them to grow with the community’s growing mental health needs.

Letty Cox - a short biography from the
time she was at Trafalgar School

Letty attended Trafalgar School from 1945-1948 and was a member of Fairley House. In her graduating year, Letty was Head Prefect, Head of Fairley House, Head of the Boarding School and Captain of the second Basketball team.

Letty was named a Trafalgar Scholar & Explorer in 2013 and a Distinguished Alumna in 2015. Her thank-you speech is below.

"Instead of Traf giving an award to me, I should give them an award for all that they contributed, not just to my academic formation, but to how my life unfolded after my experience at the school. It was a life-changing turn of events."

"I will never forget the first day I set foot in Canada in October 1945, I slept on my bed in the Boarding Section of the school. Little did I know then that Canada was to become my adoptive country. Memories like this remain present in your mind and I still vividly recollect exactly where my father and I stood when Miss Foster (now Dr. Foster) came to greet us (at the bottom of the big stairs leading to the Boarding section of the school). And then she was gone, and I joined the other boarders to start my experience at the school. I have very good memories of my three years at Trafalgar."