Dr Alexander Letham Black, 1946–2021

Dr Alexander Letham Black

With deep sadness, we announce the passing of Dr Alex Black. Alex made the unforeseen decision to end his life. Though his choice is difficult to understand, we ask you to think of him with compassion and respect.

Alex graduated from Glasgow University in 1970 and practised as a GP in Scotland for 10 years before moving to Vanderhoof, BC, in 1981. He faithfully served as a family practitioner in that community for 28 years and dedicated himself to meeting the health care needs of all those he served. Alex was a mentor to a generation of doctors who passed through Vanderhoof and was a role model for many who continue to serve in rural medicine in BC.

In 1997, recognizing the demands placed on physicians in rural communities, Alex was instrumental in the development of the Northern Rural Doctors Group. This group of initially 22 physicians challenged the health authority and Ministry of Health to solve the longstanding difficulties faced by rural and remote communities and physicians with recruitment and retention. He was an unwavering leader, and after 6 months of hardship, an agreement was reached that resulted in on-call pay and improved working conditions. This later led to MOCAP and the formation of the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues. Rural medicine’s needs were placed firmly on the map thanks to Alex’s vision and determination.

Alex went on to serve on the then BCMA Board, where he ably represented his northern constituents and was proud to be from Vanderhoof, “the geographic centre of BC.” He was forthright and pragmatic, having the ability to guide debate to a timely and wise conclusion.

Alex was awarded the Doctors of BC Silver Medal of Service in 2009.

Alex found solace at his cabin on Fraser Lake, where he enjoyed fishing, outdoor curling, and an occasional good Scotch. He entertained his friends and family with a dry sense of humor and always had a twinkle in his eye. Time spent with Alex was time well spent.

While we will never know the reasons behind his last decision, we must rejoice in his life and remember the good times. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten by all who knew this dedicated physician.

Alex joins his parents, Francis and Agnes; his first wife, May; his brothers, John and Bobby; and his brother-in-law, Will F. He is survived by his wife, Petra; his son, David; his daughter-in-law, Donna; his grandson, Ryan; his sisters, Nan and Christine; Christine’s husband, Will; and his sister-in-law, Ann. He also leaves behind many nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends in Scotland, Austria, and Canada.

We encourage you to look out for each other and remind everyone that the Physician Health Program of the Doctors of BC provides supportive counseling and interventional services to physicians and their families in times of need. You can contact the program at 604 398-4300.
—Alan Gow, MBChB
—Bill Cavers, MD

Alan Gow, MBChB, Bill Cavers, MD. Dr Alexander Letham Black, 1946–2021. BCMJ, Vol. 63, No. 7, September, 2021, Page(s) 301 - Obituaries.

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Donald Wilson MD says: reply

Alex was a wonderful man and a compassionate physician. He shall be remembered fondly. My favorite quote would be to the Deputy Minister of Health during a heated discussion when he proclaimed "I'm the only friend ye got" in his Scottish accent. Slante Alex

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