Dr Alexander Hugh Pontifex, 1927–2013

portrait of the late Dr. Pontifex
It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Dr Alexander Hugh Pontifex. Known to his family, friends, and colleagues as Hugh, he lived his life with kindness, intelligence, and integrity. Hugh grew up in Burnaby and went to the University of British Columbia, obtaining a BSc in 1950. He then entered the first graduating class of the new UBC medical school. Dr Pontifex completed a rotating internship at Vancouver General Hospital and then moved to Merritt to work as one of two general practitioners for the area. He left general practice to complete his postgraduate training, first in England as a research fellow in medical physics at Marsden Hospital and then in San Jose, California, to finish his residency in pathology. In 1964 he returned to Canada with his wife and children to work at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, first in general pathology and medical microbiology from 1964 to 1971 and then as director of hematology from 1971 to 1977. He started the first fine needle biopsy program in the province at the hospital. In 1977 he transferred to the British Columbia Cancer Control Agency in Vancouver and became the first medical director of the pathology lymphoma program, continuing as a consulting staff member until his retirement in 1992. From 1982 to 1992 he returned to the Fraser Valley and served as director of regional laboratories from 1986 to 1992.

During his career as a pathologist he was involved in teaching medical technologists, medical students, and pathology residents. He was one of the original partners in BC Biomedical Laboratories and served as a chair of the laboratory accreditation committee. He was president of the Westminster Medical Society, president of the BC Association of Laboratory Physicians, and scientific chair of the Canadian Congress of Laboratory Medicine, 1982. He also published a number of papers during his career. 

Dr Pontifex had a long and successful career as a pathologist, retiring at age 70 to enjoy the next 16 years with his wife of 63 years, Margaret, and his extended family of children and grandchildren on Galiano Island. 
—Alison Pontifex, MD
—Jacques Roy, MD
New Westminster
—Arun K. Garg, MD
New Westminster

Alison Pontifex, MD,, Jacques Roy, MD,, Arun K. Garg, PhD, MD. Dr Alexander Hugh Pontifex, 1927–2013. BCMJ, Vol. 56, No. 5, June, 2014, Page(s) 241 - Obituaries.

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