Phil Ashmore passed away peacefully on 1 September 2011 at the age of 85. Born and raised in BC, he retained a great love of the Interior, especially the Bridge River Valley and Bralorne, along with their inhabitants.
He graduated in medicine at the University of Toronto in 1948 and, after a short spell as a country GP in Bralorne, he returned to train in surgery. There he came under the influence of Dr Bill Mustard, and this led him to develop an interest in pediatric surgery, particularly the treatment of cardiac anomalies.
He subsequently gained an overseas fellowship in London with Sir Russell Brock in thoracic surgery and paid weekly visits to the Children’s Hospital in Great Ormond Street to be with David Waterson, who was a world pioneer in pediatric cardiac surgery.
He returned to Vancouver and established a practice in pediatric general and cardiac surgery. In 1957, along with Dr Peter Allen, he performed the first open heart operation in Vancouver. Phil went on to promote and establish pediatric surgery as a separate specialty in Vancouver, and along with three colleagues, created first a division, then a full department. Throughout this time, he provided encouragement, stimulus, and warm friendship to these individuals, to which I can attest.
His was a huge influence in the building of a new separate children’s hospital, and after moving to it in 1982, he concentrated solely on his cardiac work.
Allied to his professional success, Phil possessed a most engaging personality and a huge sense of humor. An accomplished musician and entertainer, he claimed, “I never saw a microphone that I didn’t like!”
In his later years, his health began to deteriorate, but he was blessed with a very supportive family who saw that he enjoyed his regular outings with his beloved dog Kerry.
A true pioneer, a great surgeon, and a wonderful character, he will be sorely missed, but his achievements will live on in his specialty and in children at large.
—Graham C. Fraser, MD
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