Hematology was in its infancy as a specialty in BC when George entered the field in 1962. As one of the first academic hematopathologists in Canada, George mentored close to 20 trainees, who either currently direct the hospital and private labs in this province or have already retired. And there were many more foreign students, general pathologists, and clinical hematologists who benefited from his guidance. He championed the concepts of excellence in laboratory practice, with attention to administrative detail, the responsibility to teach, the value of research, and close collaboration with the technical staff. Following his early years in Montreal and Kingston, George graduated from Queen’s Medical School in 1957 and came to BC to complete his pathology residency at Shaughnessy Hospital. He was a fellow student of Drs David Hardwick, Hugh Pontifex, Earl Shepherd, and Donald Rix, all of whom became distinguished leaders in academic pathology, and regional and private laboratories.
He joined Dr Wally Thomas at Vancouver General Hospital, determined to further develop the nascent field of hematopathology, and became the go-to guy in the province for difficult blood film and bone marrow interpretation. He later focussed his research interests describing rare local abnormal hemoglobins (i.e., Hbs Vancouver and Lulu Island).
Both he and Wally valued a close interaction between the lab diagnostic and the clinical applications of hematology, and early on welcomed Dr Shelly Naiman who expanded the diagnostic coagulation lab, and me, who came to lead the blood transfusion program and then Dr Ted Reeve, who helped develop the transplant immunology program. Among the others recruited by George for the VGH lab were Drs Jorge Denegri, Paul Keown, Cedric Carter, Randy Gascoyne, Bakul Dalal, and Monika Hudoba. Later, more of his protégés, such as Drs Deborah Griswold, Robert Coupland, and David Pi, returned to make contributions to this lab. George seemed to find great pleasure as the reliable straightman for Shelley Naiman’s jibes, and annually we all eagerly awaited his appearance in a seersucker suit as the harbinger of summer.
George headed the division from 1981 to 1998. Following retirement at the hospital he served as a medical consultant at Canadian Blood Services and was appointed as clinical professor emeritus at UBC. As a committee man, he helped establish the Royal College Examination Board in Hematopatholgy and the BC Association of Lab Physicians.
Traveling became an even more important part of his life after retirement as he continued teaching with colleagues in China, India, and South America, and as a result further honed his taste for very spicy food. George was predeceased by his wife, Sylvia, and is survived by his children, Ian and Katherine; their partners; his brothers; and those of us fortunate enough to remember this very good friend and valuable colleague.
—Jerry Growe, MD
(With assistance from Ian and Katherine Gray)
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