The medical community and the province of BC have suffered a great loss with the death of Henry S. Ballon on 6 October 2012.
Henry grew up in Montreal and obtained his undergraduate degree at McGill. He worked briefly as a pharmacist’s assistant before attending medical school in Geneva. He spent 6 months as an extern at a Swiss TB sanatorium, during which time he also pursued his love of skiing. He relocated to Vancouver in 1962 to work as an intern at Vancouver General Hospital, staying for the next 3 years to study under Drs Ken Evelyn, J.D.E. Price, and others. He then moved to Shaughnessy Hospital to work under Dr Mac Whitelaw. The following year Henry went to Seattle to study nephrology under Belding Scribner, with special emphasis on home hemodialysis.
He completed his postgraduate training, and during the summer of 1968, he, Mike Moriarty, and Ted Reeve worked together preparing for the fellowship exams. Subsequently the three established a joint office for the practice of nephrology and internal medicine, which continued for over 20 years.
Henry was acknowledged throughout the province for his medical acumen and concern for his patients’ well-being. He was a dedicated teacher, interested in both the academic and personal lives of his students. He was president of the BC Society of Internal Medicine for a number of years and a member of the North Pacific Society of Internal Medicine.
All who worked with him would agree that he did not suffer fools gladly—not that he expected everyone to be as intelligent as he was but rather that administrative red tape and personal self-aggrandisement were never acceptable substitutes for patient care and concern.
During his years of practice Henry had limited time for outside interests but continued to enjoy music, photography, and his cabin on Gambier Island, often in the company of his daughters Laura and Julia and his granddaughter Sasha. He maintained contact with the Montreal poets of his youth, especially Milton Acorn and Al Purdy.
Following his retirement, he started playing bridge and expanded his interest in photography. While most photography enthusiasts were adopting digital technologies, Henry specialized in darkroom techniques and black-and-white film photography, a strategy in many ways analogous to that which he applied to the practice of medicine, demonstrating again that the best results were obtained by a direct hands-on approach.
He was a dedicated friend and a joy to walk the streets with, as he always had a pocketful of change for those in need. Rest well, dear friend.
—S.C. Naiman, MD, Vancouver
—C.E. Reeve, MD, Gabriola