Dr David Alexander Boyes, 1925–2017

Dr David Alexander Boyes was born at Vancouver General Hospital on 18 March 1925 and died in VGH emergency on 14 March 2017 after a few hours of illness.

Dr David Alexander Boyes was born at Vancouver General Hospital on 18 March 1925 and died in VGH emergency on 14 March 2017 after a few hours of illness. He is survived by his loving wife, Margaret Saunders; son, David Boyes; grandchildren, Matthew Grout, Angus Grout, and Tiare Boyes; and great-granddaughter, Morgan Grout. He was predeceased by his first wife, Louise Messinger, and daughter, Susan Grout.

David graduated in medicine from Queen’s University, Kingston, in 1949. After an internship at VGH he and I established a family practice on Salt Spring Island. We had weekly clinics at Galiano, Mayne, and Pender Islands, transported to and from by boat, often fishing along the way. For emergency and urgent calls to the other islands, a float plane in front of our combined waterfront office and residence was at our call. In 1953 we returned to Vancouver to specialize in our respective fields.

David went on to become a distinguished gynecologist, radiation oncologist, and cytopathologist. He was one of the world’s leading authorities on the detection of cervical cancer. In 1995 with Dr Herbert Fidler, he began the free Pap smear program in BC, which resulted in reducing deaths from cervical cancer by 70% over time. In subsequent years he was invited around the world to set up the cytology screening program that had been developed here. While he provided medical and scientific leadership at many levels he became best known as the director of the Cancer Control Agency of British Columbia (CCA), which, under his leadership, developed into a nationally and internationally emulated facility for the prevention, detection, and treatment of all forms of cancer.

Subsequent to retiring from the CCA he took several unpaid positions, including chair of the Medical Ethics Committee of the BC government for organ transplants. He also chaired the False Creek Toxic Waste Cleanup Committee prior to Expo 86.

He had an impressive list of 60 medical papers, journal articles, and numerous other publications to his credit. In addition to being an officer of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia, he was awarded the Canadian Medical Association’s FNG Starr Award, an honor shared with Banting, Best, and Collip, and other legendary figures of Canadian medical history.

The David Boyes Society was founded 43 years ago by a group of his resident doctors. An annual fall dinner and meeting in Vancouver is held for practising obstetricians and gynecologists. Guest speakers lecture at the meeting on subjects related to their specialties.

David enjoyed singing and was a member of the Med’s 49 Octet. He was a keen sailor and loved happy hours with guitar in hand on his sailboat or at home with family and friends.

A well-lived, useful life! 
—John Ankenman, MDCM, FRCS

John Ankenman, MDCM, FRCS. Dr David Alexander Boyes, 1925–2017. BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 7, September, 2017, Page(s) 371 - Obituaries.

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