October 12, 1921 – October 10, 2016
Robert Riley Wilson, BA, MA, MD, known to most as Bob or Doctor Wilson, and occasionally as Riley, died quietly on Thanksgiving Monday after a long life well lived, and in narrow avoidance of a fuss for his 95th birthday. He was born and raised in North Vancouver, the youngest of four siblings (Ellen, George, and Berte). Bob was a graduate of North Vancouver High School where he captained both the rugby team and the school’s first Canadian football team. He met his beloved Ethel there and never had eyes for anyone else. They married, had three children (Joan, Patrick, and Jim), five grandchildren (Claire, Timothy, Emily, Tyler, and Cameron), and one great-grandson (Alec). During WW II, Bob worked at the Burrard Shipyards, first as a general hand and later as a draughtsman. He could not enlist as his work was deemed an essential service. Since he was not eligible for any of the educational benefits that were available to his returning friends, Bob and Ethel worked hard to put him through his degrees in biology and, eventually, medicine. Bob was a proud member of the UBC Medicine Class of ‘52. After practicing in Vernon and Port Renfrew, he joined friends and fellow classmates Peter and Mel in Duncan for the remainder of his career. He was a family doctor beloved by his patients, respected by his colleagues and appreciated by hospital and office staff. He was dedicated to his patients and continued to make house calls after his “official” retirement. In addition to his medical practice, Bob served as the local coroner for many years and was the first doctor to hold this position. The little spare time that he had was spent with his family at the Maple Bay cabin or, for several years, sailing. From a Sabot to a friend’s Lightning to a chartered Cal to his own Coronado, Bob and a close-hauled sailboat were made for one another despite Ethel’s less than enthusiastic response to heeling. From night school classes, he took up metal lathe work and was a creative solver of many construction and mechanical problems for his children and grandchildren. His New Year’s trumpet “playing” and hot air balloon UFOs will be missed by the family if not the neighbours. Bob was predeceased by his beloved Ethel, son Jim, son-in-law Gerry, and his siblings. He is survived by family and dear ones including Cindy and Tom, Adam, Laurie and Jaymie, Judi, George and Susan, Una, Sandy, and many colleagues. Another of the good guys has gone; he will be much missed. We celebrated Bob’s life in a service on Monday, 17 October 2016, at St John’s Anglican Church, Jubilee Street, Duncan. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Cowichan Valley Hospice Society (www.cowichanvalleyhospice.org) would be greatly appreciated.