Gracefully and gently passed away surrounded by family at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
Beloved husband of Elizabeth (d. 2016) for 60 years. Devoted father of Tom (Rose), Julie (Vince), Jane (Ian), and Pete (Shannon). Proud Grandfather of Sarah, Emma, Nicholas, Ginny, Simon, Charlie, Jack, Hannah, Jake, Sam, and Elle.
Jack was born in the west end of Toronto on the cusp of the Great Depression. He grew up fairly comfortably for the times, and had a very active childhood and high school years at Runnymede and Humberside Collegiate. He excelled at school and sports, winning three consecutive city baseball championships as a clutch hitter. It was this sublime hand-eye skill that led to his two great passions – golf and surgery.
Jack entered U of T medical school and graduated in 1953, then went on to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology. During his residency in 1955, he had one of his great golf years, as he qualified for the Canadian Open and made the cut as an amateur. He got to play alongside the greats – Snead, Hogan and crew, as well as a newcomer named Arnold Palmer. He was the same age as Jack and he became his new hero for life.
Having met Liz at Sick Kids hospital and after a torrid hospital romance (“those big brown eyes over the mask…”) they married and had two children before moving to Peterborough to set up his practice and have two more children. It was here where his legacy would build. There are few who have tirelessly worked as hard as Jack. His commitment to his patients, the hospital and the Peterborough Clinic is simply unmatched. He delivered almost ten thousand babies and saved countless lives with his unshakeable skill. Under severe pressure, his calming demeanour, gentleness and carefulness were his hallmark. His patients and colleagues were still marveling at it until his final day. It was when he was nominated for the Order of Canada and we all heard the testimonials from his fellow doctors and nurses that it really sunk in how wide and deep this legacy was.
Such dedication and commitment does take a toll however. His workload and the hours were hard on his body and his stress level had to have been considerable. He fought off a massive heart attack, lost vision in one eye due to a golf ball injury, and had constant pain in his feet (and pretty much everywhere else). As a member of The Greatest Generation, his toughness was complete. There was never ever a word of complaint uttered, and he never said a negative word; although he did slip once and said he didn’t like how LeBron complained to the refs when the Cavs beat the Raptors…
His solace from his workload was golf. He continued his elite level of play well into his 60’s and shot his age on his 83rd birthday. He made seven holes-in-one, five in tournaments! He was known as the best player who never played. He never practiced or warmed up. He barely played any friendly rounds, choosing to use his rare golf days for events and tournaments. He won many; including his club championship, multiple World Medical Championships and North American titles, and many senior events as he got older.
As a father and husband, he was so kind and gentle and always quietly supportive. We all simply adored him. He loved when everyone was together and treasured the fun and laughter and good food. Large gatherings with friends at the pool or at a cottage on a lake were particular favourites. He tried to make every game or race, and just beamed when it was over. He loved his grandchildren and followed every single event or happening in their lives. We were lucky to have him as a dad and a grandpa.
He is now at peace after living an extraordinary life. An extraordinary life where he did things so well and so quietly, but his achievements and legacy will live long and loudly.
Heartfelt thanks to the whole Palliative Care team, all the nurses and doctors were so compassionate. A Celebration of Jack’s life will be held at the Peterborough Golf and Country Club on Saturday, June 8th from 1:00 to 5:00pm. All are welcome to attend. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-926-3222. Online condolences can be left at www.ashburnhamfuneral.ca. Memorial donations to the Nature Conservancy of Canada or the PRHC Foundation in support of women’s health care at Peterborough Regional Health Centre would be in keeping with Jack's love of nature and commitment to his patients.