It is with deep sadness that the Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia, announces the death of Dr Gordon Thompson, who, after a short illness, passed away peacefully at Royal Jubilee Hospital on 24 September 2022 at age 97. He was surrounded in his last hours by his loving family: his wife, Sally, of 62 years of marriage; his daughters, Tracey and Meg; and three grandsons, Oliver and Ethan Spratt and Calvin Cotton.
Gordon was born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. After medical school at McGill University in Montreal, he undertook neurosurgical training at the world-leading Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital under the influence of Dr Wilder Penfield and Dr William Vernon Cone, his tutor and his mentor, with whom he forged a special bond. In 1960, Gordon joined the neurosurgical staff at UBC and Vancouver General Hospital under the leadership of Dr Frank Turnbull, whom he succeeded as head in 1966. Until his retirement, Gordon served as head for an amazing 24 years (1966–1990). During his tenure he established the first neurosurgical training program at UBC in 1966, where he trained a myriad of successful duly certified neurosurgical trainees and recruited several colleagues to join and enlarge the division’s expertise in functional, spinal, tumor, and neurovascular subspecialties. That legacy continues to this day.
Gordon himself excelled in complex spinal degenerative diseases and in the field of epilepsy surgery; with the help of epileptologist Dr Juhn Wada, he humbly achieved results comparable to the best world centres in the area of temporal lobe epilepsy.
Outside of the operating theatre, he served his specialty in the important roles of chief of the Royal College Neurosurgical Exam Committee for 10 years, head of the Canadian Neurosurgical Society for 2 years, and president of the Western Neurosurgical and North Pacific Neurosurgical Societies.
He was a generous and caring leader who treated his colleagues, residents, and nursing and neurorehabilitation staff with respect and support, sometimes even financial. He also loved entertaining them at joyful parties at his home.
His greatest joy, however, was his loving family: his wife, Sally; their three daughters, Tracey Thompson-Franson, Wendy Thompson (predeceased), and Meg Thompson; their husbands; and his three grandsons. On retirement, Gordon moved from Vancouver to Parksville for 18 years for the quiet community-involved life but moved to Victoria 4 years ago to be close to his immediate family.
Our dear colleague, friend, and mentor lived a long, full, productive life. A man of faith, may he rest peacefully. His legacy to us will endure, and he will be missed by all who knew him.
—Felix Durity, MD
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