Dr Alexander Leiper Robertson, 1925–2018

Dr Alexander Leiper Robertson

Dr Alexander Leiper Robertson was born in the family home at the corner of Rumble Street and Patterson Avenue in Burnaby on Robbie Burns’s birthday. Alex completed his pre-med BA at UBC in 1949 and was promptly accepted into medical school at the University of Western Ontario in London. After second year he elected to take a sailing sabbatical to refine his maritime skills and to earn his fare in the family bakery. One year later, refocused, he returned to complete his medical degree in 1952.

In the course of his medical studies, his Plymouth Brethren connections introduced him to a dazzling debutante, Doris Nugent. Cupid did not waste any arrows! He and Doris fulfilled their matrimonial vows on 24 March 1956, and the magical union endured 62 years, until Alex’s death. Initially, the newlyweds rented an apartment in Vancouver. After their first son, John, was born 1½ years later, they constructed their architecturally designed home on Braemar Avenue in Burnaby with a $5000 mortgage; raised their three children, John, Rosemary and Mark; and lived there for the next 54 years. 

After graduation, Alex returned to the West Coast to set up his family practice in Burnaby. There, he had privileges at Burnaby Hospital, where he also served as chief of staff. Early in his career he crossed paths with Dr Kurt Gottschling at the Salvation Army Outpatient Medical Clinic, where Alex was volunteering and Kurt was in the final weeks of his internship. On 1 July 1961 they formed a professional association that flourished until Alex retired in 1990 on his 65th birthday. Over almost 3 decades of association, Kurt had high praise for his colleague: “Like in any public office, people in charge sometimes meet with difficult problems. With wisdom and persuasion, Alex managed them all. He was smart, knowledgeable, and wise. He had empathy for the downtrodden. His sympathetic nature was well known and appreciated by his patients. He was moral, conscientious, and guided by his Christian faith.”

It did not take long before Alex and Kurt had acquired more associates and were challenged for space. In 1972 Dr Cliff Silverthorne joined the group. His business expertise and political moxie were instrumental in locating a favorable site for expansion. Over the years the Royal Oak Medical Clinic was the office location for Drs Bond, Hiller, Wagar, Jones, Dublin, Hanam, and Foggin. 

Alex was a man who embodied the word gentleman. As a physician, his gentle and healing ways and quiet words of comfort and compassion earned the loyalty and love of his patients. Alex always had a listening ear for his friends and family and made a point of seeking out those who were perhaps forgotten by others.

Alex was also a man of faith and great personal integrity. He was a faithful supporter of youth and university work through the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (specifically Pioneer Pacific Camp and SFU IVCF), as well as the Union Gospel Mission. 

Alex had a passion for gardening, golf, sailing, traveling, and his family. This was witnessed by the neatness and beauty of his yard, sailing journeys on Tradewind II, golfing on Fridays with his Killarney Park buddies, and the annual May long-weekend family getaways. 

Alex and Doris have left an amazing legacy in their five remarkable grandchildren, Emily, Camille, Fiona, Michael, and Cameron. Alex is deeply missed by his family, friends, and colleagues. It is only fitting that his lifelong partner in practice has the final word: “We loved Alex and we know that he loved Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
—Rosemary Bell
—John and Mark Robertson
—Kurt Gottschling, MD
—Ruth Albrecht, MD
—John Albrecht, MD

Rosemary Bell, John and Mark Robertson, Kurt Gottschling, MD, Ruth Albrecht, MD, J.E. Albrecht, MD. Dr Alexander Leiper Robertson, 1925–2018. BCMJ, Vol. 61, No. 1, January, February, 2019, Page(s) 36-37 - Obituaries.

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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

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