My father had a passion for the practice of medicine: the politics, the educational mentoring, and patient care. It was made obvious to me at a young age that being a doctor was a privilege and that it required a sacrifice that was not for everyone. The fact that he missed family or kids’ sporting/concert/graduation events was just part of having a dad who was a doctor.
His dedication to his patients, his students, and representing his MD colleagues at many BCMA or CMA meetings was just the way he wanted to do it.
Bob died peacefully in Peace Arch Hospital suffering with a cognitive/dementia condition after a long and productive life.
He was born in Vancouver with training and career activities taking him to Montreal, Ottawa, and Kamloops throughout his life. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marjorie Eleanor (Weber), and his four children, Doug (Wendy), Cathy (Bill), Bruce, and David (Ruth).
After completing his service in the Second World War with the Irish Fusiliers (Vancouver), he returned to the University of British Columbia completing a BA (honors in bacteriology and preventive medicine) in 1947 then going on to McGill University (Montreal) for medicine, graduating in 1951.
He completed an internship at the Royal Victoria Hospital (Montreal) and a year in medicine at Shaughnessy Hospital (Vancouver) with a career in family practice starting in 1953. He was on the medical staff at Vancouver General, Shaughnessy, and Grace Hospitals during his clinical days. He continued his military service as a major in 24 Medical Company (1945–1955).
From 1954–1969 he served as assistant and executive secretary for the British Columbia Medical Association. In this medical leadership position he was part of the Royal Commission on Medicare (Task Force on the Price of Medical Care). As a member of the Canadian Medical Association’s Board of Directors, he was elected to the position of chairman (1973–1976).
From 1971–1976, he was an instructor and assistant professor, Department of Healthcare and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia. In 1969 he joined the Faculty of Medicine at UBC full-time and was instrumental in establishing the Family Practice Teaching Program at VGH and UBC. He was a founding and life member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. In 1978 he was appointed senior lecturer, family medicine, University of Ottawa.
From 1976–1981 he was the secretary general of the CMA. He was also on the board of directors of the Canadian Council on Hospital Accreditation, MD Management Ltd., and the Canadian Cancer Society. He was also on the advisory council of St. John’s Ambulance and Immigration Medical Review Board, Health and Welfare Canada.
In 1982 he returned to clinical practice in Kamloops with the Medical Services Division, Ministry of Health, for the Province of BC. He retired from clinical medicine in 1987, moving back to Vancouver and later to South Surrey.
Dad was larger than life and was never one to have his opinion ignored. His days at the BCMA under the direction of Dr Tim McCoy were very important to him. His close personal association with Vancouver physicians, particularly Drs Bill McEwan, Tommy Osler, and Billy Charleton, provided him lines of referral when patients required more complicated care.
The love for his universities—UBC and McGill—was obvious through his philanthropic support. The Vancouver Osler Society was a monthly medical tradition with Dad and he saw it as one of his most treasured groups. I had the honor of being a member of this society with my father and I know those evening of learning and discussion on nonmedical topics were not to be missed.
At the end of the tradition, Dr Bill McEwan and Dad would get one of their wives to drive them in from South Surrey as the dark nights and rain, at times, made the trip a little tougher for the “boys.”
There are two stories that I clearly remember as a child that are related to Dad and his practice. One night as he was speeding home after a late-night house call in East Vancouver, he was pulled over by the police. He told the officer he was rushing to deliver a baby, and the police followed him to the old Grace Hospital. After he was sure they had left, he drove home a little more slowly.
Another was on a Christmas Eve when he was called to the VGH Emergency after one of his toddler patients had aspirated a peanut and wasn’t able to be resuscitated. I was 8 years old and had never seen my father cry until that night.
His years in family medicine and his interest in medical students can be continued with a donation in the name of Dr “Bob” Robert G. Wilson, directed to the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine Summer Rural MD Program, c/o Dean’s Office, Faculty of Medicine, 317–2194 Health Sciences Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3.
Any correspondence for Marjorie Wilson should be sent to Ms Kate Lucyk-Bowen, 12634 28th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 2P3.
When I hear the bagpipes sing, I know that Dad will be dressed in his kilt and singing along.
—Doug Wilson, MD
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