William John Jory was born 24 March 1933 in London. He earned his MBBCh from Cambridge University (England) in ophthalmology in 1961. After serving as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean (1951–53), he and Carolyn Shepheard were married in 1963. Together they had four children: David William, Richard Norman, Virginia Jane, and Clare Elizabeth.
In 1968 Bill and his family emigrated from England to Vancouver. He became a staff member at Lions Gate Hospital and opened an office in North Vancouver, and quickly had a busy surgical practice and worked there until 1980.
In 1970 Bill became a member of the then BCMA Board of Directors. That year the BCMA was building a partnership with the provincial government to establish the Medicare Program being introduced by the federal government.
He had a meteoric rise to prominence by being elected twice, by mail-in ballot, as president of the BCMA (in 1976–77 and 1982–83). Today, staff refer to him as “the twice president.”
In the early 1970s traffic-accident deaths and injuries were drawing increased international attention, and Australia introduced mandatory seatbelt legislation. In 1976 the BCMA, led by President Bill Jory, asked for similar legislation to be introduced by the BC provincial government, but neither the government nor the opposition were interested. As a result, Bill led an aggressive public campaign that led to mandatory seatbelt legislation later in 1976 and acceptance by the media and the public that the BCMA was an advisor to government and a teacher to British Columbians on health care issues.
As president he also became a member of the CMA Board of Directors and of General Council. This resulted in him becoming an outstanding national medical-political leader. In 1982 Dr Jory was nominated unanimously by the BCMA Board of Directors as the BCMA nominee for president elect of the CMA, and the CMA Nominating Committee endorsed the nomination. Then a BCMA member who had previously voted for his nomination ran against him from the floor of General Council, and with Ontario Medical Association support, defeated Dr Jory. For the BCMA and many members, it was an overwhelming disappointment.
Throughout his time practising in North Vancouver, Bill made regular monthly visits to Prince Rupert and provided a few days’ care to a widely dispersed, mainly Indigenous population. In 1982 family commitments required that Bill and Carolyn return to live in England. Though he closed his North Vancouver office, he retained his commitment to Northern British Columbia. Every 4 to 6 weeks he would provide ophthalmological services to Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii, the communities along the Skeena-Bulkley Valley, and north to the Alaskan border. His interests were wide ranging and included opera, cruises, and political history.
In 1986, Bill returned to England permanently and practised as an ophthalmic surgeon until his retirement in 2006. Surrounded by his family, Bill died peacefully at home on 1 July 2019.
—John O’Brien-Bell, MBBS
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