Dr James Archibald McLennan, 1932–2021
Jim was born on 30 October 1932 in rural Lebret, Saskatchewan. On 1 February 2021, he succumbed to COVID-19 complications as a resident of Royal City Manor in New Westminster, at age 88.
He is survived by his devoted wife, Rose; children, Jennifer and Jeffrey McLennan, Tracy and Robert Williams; and grandchildren, Aidan Geboers (Jennifer’s son), Colten, Tiffany, and Avery. Jim was a favored uncle to many nieces and nephews and made regular excursions to his home town to reconnect with his roots, family, and friends.
Jim acquired his formal education in Lebret, attended Regina’s Campion College, the University of Ottawa for his medical degree, and completed his internship at Hurley Hospital in Flint, Michigan. He joined Dr Roger Beaudoing and his father’s general practice in Maillardville, Coquitlam. Subsequently he moved his practice to New Westminster and soon associated with freshly minted Dr Dan Metzak—a unique 30-year friendship evolved. Jim was chosen to be godfather to Dan’s firstborn son.
With admitting privileges at Royal Columbian and St. Mary’s Hospitals, Jim provided cradle-to-grave care to his patients with kindness and compassion. He would tell them, “If you have a problem, you can call me at any time, day or night.” After retiring from office practice, he continued to provide respite locum tenens for his senior GP colleagues until he hung up his stethoscope in 2011 after a remarkable career of 59 years of primary care.
Jim was one of those unique individuals admitted to heaven before departing earth. This was reflected in his radiant St. Jim smile, heartfelt and ever present. He exuded a zest for life and a bedside manner that emanated trust and confidence. He was open-minded and comfortable in any social situation.
Perhaps one of his greatest attributes was his infinite patience. This was most fortuitous and exemplified in his interactions with his son, Jeffrey, who is profoundly autistic. On one occasion, Jeff removed his shoes, rolled down the car window, and ejected them onto a very busy Canada Way—no chance for recovery. Jim was unfazed, smile intact and a twinkle in his deep blue eyes. Water off a duck’s back!
Deeply religious, Jim, on occasion, did experience a rare slip. One of the features that likely contributed to his longevity was his longstanding love of jogging, which started in the early 1970s at the local YMCA in New Westminster, located a block from his office. He and Dan would routinely skip lunch and go for a run around Queen’s Park along with the other local enthusiasts, have a steam and shower, and return to the office ready to take on the afternoon deluge. He then became a founding member of a local jogging club, SPCA (Stanley Park Crazy Assholes), whose members would jog the seawall on weekends wearing their SPCA T-shirts, followed by imbibing some liquid refreshments.
Jim could never be accused of being a moss harvester. He was an enthusiastic supporter and participating member of the Vancouver Golf Club for many decades. He was a founding member of BC’s earliest autism society, to support afflicted children in the 1970s. He also had a passion for vintage cars; at one time his stable included a rare Aston Martin DB4, the James Bond variety. In addition, his philatelic interests focused on mint Canadian specimens, and he collected early Canadian art. Jim also loved music. He would frequently entertain his guests, playing melodies on his grand piano. With a multitude of interests beyond medicine, by life’s end his bucket list was long empty.
Another one of his longtime friends and former receptionist, Ericka Dellafortuna, describes Jim as the man with the smile in his voice, which she will truly miss. She has many happy memories of Jim on different adventures preserved in photo albums; life was always a fun-filled adventure for him. The final words are reserved for Rose: He lived life to the fullest and brought joy with him everywhere.
Gone but not forgotten by family, friends, and colleagues. For the many fond memories, thank you Jim!
—Jack and Ruth Albrecht
Jack and Ruth Albrecht, Rose Nahanee, Dan Metzak. Dr James Archibald McLennan, 1932–2021. BCMJ, Vol. 63, No. 6, July, August, 2021, Page(s) 256 - Obituaries.
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Dr McLennan was one of the most caring & devoted people I have ever had the privilege of knowing! I have known him my entire life & believe I am a better person because of his guidance. He will be sorely missed! Our deepest condolences
Theresa Learmonth, Alex , Bob & Dave Merk