Dr Bill McLaren died peacefully on 20 July 2014 at 93 years of age. He was a remarkable man with immense energy and a dry sense of humor. Together, he and his wife, Pat, lived life to the fullest. They loved people and had friends everywhere. They traveled extensively and always seemed to know someone no matter where they went.
Bill was born in Poole, Dorset, England, on 30 January 1921. This was a few months after his parents returned to Britain from Canada where his father, an academic, had spent time at McGill University. When asked where he was from, Bill liked to respond that he was conceived in Canada and born in Britain.
Dr McLaren was from a family of four. His two older brothers joined the RAF at the beginning of the Second World War and both succumbed in the Battle of Britain. Dr McLaren pursued his studies at that point and graduated from medicine from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 1944. He then joined the RAF and was in the medical section until 1946. It was at this time that he met and married Pat, his soul mate and lifelong companion.
From 1946 Dr McLaren trained in general surgery in London at Guy’s Hospital with rotations at other institutions. It was while at Guy’s Hospital that he became interested in thoracic surgery and worked under a pioneer in the field, Lord Russell Brock. He received his FRCS in 1949.
In 1951 the McLarens moved to Canada, where Bill completed a 1-year residency in thoracic surgery at Vancouver General Hospital. The following year he was appointed surgical specialist to the Department of Tuberculosis Control, BC, and the family moved to the Tranquille Tuberculosis Sanatorium just west of Kamloops. When the surgery section was discontinued in 1957, Dr McLaren joined the staff of the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and became a partner in the Burris Clinic. He practised general surgery and thoracic surgery in Kamloops for the next 31 years until he retired in 1987.
During his years in active practice Dr McLaren held many positions in Kamloops and provincially. He was president of the medical staff and chief of surgery at Royal Inland Hospital, he was an examiner for the LMCC, he was on the executive of the BCMA Section of General Surgery for 12 years and the chair for 2 of those years, and he was on the executive of the BC Surgical Society for 10 years and president from 1987 to 1988.
Outside of medicine, Dr McLaren was on the executive—and usually president for a time—in many organizations in Kamloops, including the Kamloops Ski Club, Kamloops Figure Skating Club, Kamloops Tennis Club, Community Cancer Association, Tod Mountain Ski Club, Kamloops Rotary Club, and the Thompson Valley Film Society. He also followed local city activities and never hesitated to send a letter to the newspaper if there was something he didn’t agree with.
Summers in the McLaren family centred around a cottage on Shuswap Lake and winters were spent skiing at Tod Mountain. Even after his beloved wife died in 2012, Bill carried on with weekly tennis matches and skiing until he was 92. Dr McLaren is survived by his three sons, each of whom has gone on to marry, and there are now a number of McLaren grandchildren.
—Gordon Olsen, MD
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