Dr Joginder (Joe) Grewal 1945–2008

Dr Joginder Grewal passed away 28 June 2008 after a long battle with cancer.

Joe completed his master’s degree in surgery at Chandigarh, India, in 1971 and came to Canada 1 year later, accompanied by his wife, Surrinder.

Upon arrival here, he immediately went back to medical school and, after finishing an internship in Winnipeg, he obtained his fellowship in pathology at the University of British Columbia in 1979. He became a respected leader and innovator in the BC medical community after he settled in Abbotsford with his family in 1989.

He was active as a director on the BCMA Board for over a decade. He was chairperson of the pathology group for the Fraser Valley Health Authority for many years and president of the Dr Cam Cody group of pathologists as well. Locally, he was the president of our MSA Medical Society and chief of pathology services at MSA General Hospital.

He was a scholarly man with an outstanding list of accomplishments and an impressive breadth and depth of knowledge in many disciplines, but the thing that struck me about Joe when we first met was his kind and gentle nature. You could tell that when he said something he had already carefully considered the impact of his words before he spoke—a quality of his that many have mentioned to me as one of his most memorable and special. His wisdom and wit were always bubbling under the surface of his beatific smile. I especially miss our morning talks over tea in the MSA doctors’ lounge. We would often discuss philosophy and politics, two of his many diverse interests, and easily solve all of the world’s problems in the 15 minutes we spent together every day. Our only regret was that there were no world leaders there to listen to us to put our brilliant solutions into action, as they surely would have done immediately if they had only heard them.

In his life, Joe accomplished many wonderful things. Foremost, he was a caring husband, father, and grandfather—his family was the central focus in his life. Professionally, he was a brilliant pathologist and respected leader. Our new hospital in Abbotsford was made possible in no small part because of his tireless efforts in planning our future in his leadership role. He was a visionary and the voice of reason in everything he dedicated himself to. He played a crucial role in our profession’s history as a member of many BCMA committees, as well as being a Board director during extremely turbulent times, and he helped provide unique solutions with his insights to complex problems. His stature at the BCMA became clear to me when Joe convinced me to run for his position on the Board after he be­came too ill to continue. When I finally arrived there, the enormousness of the shoes I had to fill was quickly brought home to me when another board member told me, “I hope you can do half as well as Joe did.” I am still trying to fill those shoes.

But I think that the true measure of a man’s life rests not so much in the things he has accomplished (and in Joe’s case these were enormous) but in the legacy he has left in the lives that he touched. In that way, Joe was a man truly loved and sorely missed because of how he gifted us with his beautiful nature. Joe’s busy professional life never prevented him from sitting down and giving his precious time to anyone who asked. He was the voice of wisdom and compassion that people came to when they had a problem, and he took the time to listen no matter how large or small that problem might be. His kindness was given generously to all and positively chang­ed the lives of so many.

As the end of his life drew near, it was painful and sad for me to watch him get weaker and weaker. But never did I hear him complain or bemoan his fate. He was courageous and strong, and even when he could no longer speak, he would give me one of his wonderful smiles or simply touch my hand to let me know how he felt.

Joe’s body has left us, but he is still here. His spirit lives in our minds and in our hearts, in the way we act and in the way we listen. His life has touched us with his beautiful way, and the echoes of his being have left this world a better place. He was with us for far too short a time, but we have been very blessed to have had him here. Thank you for being the wonderful gift you were to us all, Joe.

—Barry Turchen, MD

Barry Turchen, MD. Dr Joginder (Joe) Grewal 1945–2008. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 1, January, February, 2009, Page(s) 32 - Obituaries.

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