My good friend Dr John Drummond Fitzpatrick (Fitz) graduated from McMaster University in 1973. He interned at Calgary General Hospital, where he met his long-time friend and recently deceased colleague Dr Dave Musgrave. He returned to rural Ontario for 5 years but came west permanently in 1979 to join Dave’s clinic, Courtenay Medical Associates. He couldn’t believe that Vancouver Island did not have mosquitoes but did have occasional cougars!
He worked hard at Courtenay Medical Associates and St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox for the next 35-plus years and was well loved by all. He welcomed me immediately when I did a locum here 40 years ago. (I knew his cousin at Queen’s School of Medicine.) We were good ski buddies, colleagues, and friends from March 1984 onward, when I moved here permanently. We went on countless powder skiing and Whistler trips. I worked with him for 20-plus years when Courtenay Medical Associates expanded into a new larger building in December 1993. Initially I was the only woman working with seven men, but Fitz always treated me with respect at work and play, as I could mostly keep up with him on skis and match his medical expertise. He did bail me out on a few occasions over the years, though.
Fitz was the ultimate family doctor, who worked 50 to 60 hours per week, cheerfully. He laughed this summer when I told him that working 3 days per week in the office is now considered full-time! He did family practice maternity, emergency room shifts (until we got emergency room physicians), hospital call, house calls, and then walk-in clinics and locums after he gave up his full-time practice in 2011. He also did joint injections. At Courtenay Medical Associates we often gathered in his office after 5:30 p.m. to discuss our workdays once patients had left. Lots of practical jokes too!
Fitz always made a point of getting to know his patients better by asking about their families and mutual passions such as skiing, sailing, cycling, rugby, politics, and music. He loved to participate in our local multisport relay, Snow to Surf: skiing, cycling, and paddling. He was very attentive to his good friend, Dr Dave Musgrave, who declined slowly over 13 years from Parkinson disease. Fitz was heartbroken when he could not give Dave’s eulogy in person this summer as he was at home recovering from COVID-19.
Fitz will be greatly missed by the entire Comox Valley community. He is survived by his wife, Lynn; sons, Ben and Thomas; and daughter, Sarah. All three children are avid skiers like him and his brother Dennis. His other brother, Chris, is a rugby player, like Fitz was in his younger days.
Despite his untimely death, we are all glad that he lived life well until the end. He cycled his usual 50 km route the day before his fatal myocardial infarction.
Please drink a Guinness in his honor and go skiing whenever possible. Fitz won’t be able to use his prepurchased passes for Whistler and Mount Washington; it was intended to be his last ski season before total knee replacement.
—Janet Green, MD
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