After a long, distressing illness, Dr Geoff Parker-Sutton died suddenly with his family around him on 14 March 2019. Geoff was born and grew up in Castle Donington, a small village in central England. On leaving school in 1948 he was required, as all youth were at that time, to serve 2 years of national service, and he chose to do this in the Royal Air Force (RAF).
After such a short time of service, it was rare for any national serviceman to receive a commission, but Geoff did and became Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Parker-Sutton. While serving in the RAF he sustained a back injury from a parachute landing training exercise, and it was an injury that recurred from time to time throughout his life.
While in the RAF, Geoff decided that he wanted to be a doctor, and in 1950 he entered Durham University as a medical student, graduating in 1956. During medical school he met a social worker student, Jane Thorne, and they married in 1956 and immigrated to Canada in 1958. They traveled to New Westminster and Geoff was accepted at Royal Columbian Hospital to do a 1-year resident’s course. It was then that he decided to become a GP, and on finishing his year Geoff and Jane moved to Surrey. Surrey in the 1960s was very different from today—limited residential development south of the Pattullo Bridge up to Whalley, and everything south of 88th Avenue was fields and farms. Geoff found a market at the intersection of 128th Street and 102nd Avenue, rented a small room from the market, and started to practise as a family doctor. With growth of the practice he bought three lots on the opposite side of the intersection and built a modern medical clinic. With hospital privileges at Surrey Memorial and Royal Columbian Hospital he spent mornings seeing patients on the wards, in the emergency room, or in the case room, or operating/assisting in the operating room. At night he could be called to either hospital to deliver a baby.
In 1967 I was invited to join the practice, and Dr Tom Wong joined in 1973. We three practised very happily as Sandell Medical until Geoff retired in 1995. Also joining at the start was Betty Peters, just out of school, who developed into the office manager and who “ran” Sandell Medical into the next century.
Geoff’s life was not limited to his work as a family doctor. He was very happily married to Jane, and they started life together in a small home close to the practice but in due course moved to Panorama Ridge. Geoff and Jane had four children and their home was an open house to their children’s friends. They also bought a second home at Green Lake, which was an immense joy to them. It was there that they could relax as a family without interruption. Geoff was an immensely calm man, never seen angry or irritated and always there to help, especially in difficult times. Some months ago Jane described him as “a wonderful man.” Geoff Parker-Sutton was indeed a wonderful man.
—John O’Brien-Bell, MB
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