Dr C. Ed McDonnell, 1923–2014

portrait of the late Dr. McDonnell
Dr Ed McDonnell’s death on 2 February 2014 marked the passing of a gentleman who touched many people’s lives, including mine, in numerous ways.

He was born in Vancouver, 22 November 1923 at St. Paul’s Hospital. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia and his medical degree at McGill University in 1951. His education and life experience were further enhanced by his wartime service as a teenage navigator in a Lancaster bomber on raids over Germany. At McGill he met Shirley, the love of his life, and as newlyweds they moved to Vanderhoof, BC, to experience real medicine. Next they moved to Edmonton where Dr McDonnell completed an internal medicine residency and he and Shirley started their family of three children: Brady, Tara, and Chip.

The rest of his career was at St. Paul’s Hospital, where I had the privilege of knowing him as teacher, physician, colleague, and patient. He excelled in every role and was admired by all. He was a role model for how to be a good and caring physician to hundreds—perhaps thousands—of students and residents.

At St. Paul’s Hospital he led the division of rehabilitation and was head of the geriatric program until 1988, also directing medical services at two long-term care facilities in downtown Vancouver. During his time at the hospital he was chief of staff, director of medical education, and chair of the Medical Ethics Committee. He was also instrumental in establishing the St. Paul’s Hospital Archives, leading the celebration of St. Paul’s 100th anniversary. His teaching career spanned over 25 years and he was named professor emeritus in 1989.

Away from St. Paul’s Dr McDonnell was active in the Vancouver Medical Association, was a longstanding member of the BC Medical Journal Editorial Board, and was chair of the Doctors of BC (then BCMA) Museum and Archives Committee from 1977 to 2002. His love of history led him to write over 40 papers on the history of doctors, institutions, organizations, and medical practice in British Columbia. He was made an honorary lifetime member of the Archives Association of British Columbia and received the William B. Spaulding Certificate of Merit in recognition of his written work. Dr McDonnell was also honored in many other ways. He received a lifetime membership in the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, the David M. Bachop Gold Medal for Distinguished Medical Service, the VMA Prince of Good Fellows award, a senior membership in the CMA, and an Outstanding Volunteer Award from the YMCA.

I first met Dr McDonnell when I was a resident in 1970 and was immediately impressed by his knowledge, his accessibility, and his warmth to patients and colleagues alike. When I needed an internist, who else would I call? He was kindness personified. Then, as a relatively junior staff member, I had the privilege of being his anesthetist; he was the perfect patient. Quite a few years later, while working on Doctors of BC centenary/archival matters, I learned more about his broad interests and depth of historical knowledge. He was indeed knowledgeable, wise, and witty—qualities I know were appreciated by all who knew him. We have lost a wonderful and complete human being.
—Dorothy Woodhouse, MD
Vancouver


Dr McDonnell was a respected member of the BCMJ Editorial Board, serving from 1978 to 2000. He will be missed. —ED

Dorothy Woodhouse, MD,. Dr C. Ed McDonnell, 1923–2014. BCMJ, Vol. 56, No. 56, July, August, 2014, Page(s) 289 - Obituaries.



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