In memory of Dr. Donald Watt, CFPC President 1986-1987

January 07, 2019

donald wattDr. Donald Watt is remembered as a compassionate, caring individual and a wonderful ambassador for family medicine. He passed away on December 29, 2018, in Abbotsford, British Columbia, at the age of 94.

Don received Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada in 1971, became a Fellow in 1974, and received Life Membership in 1994. For 38 years he worked for the United Church of Canada (UCC) Board of Home Missions, which operated hospitals and clinics in rural and isolated communities across Canada. His first years in practice were dedicated to church hospitals in Bella Coola and the Queen Charlotte Islands (now known as Haida Gwaii). He travelled by plane, boat and truck to reach remote clinics and patients, and often hiked into the woods or rode horseback into the mountains to stabilize victims from accidents or grizzly bear mauls. In Bella Coola he was given the names “Nooskumiich” (One who heals with his hands) and “Nenetsmlayc” (One who brings back to life).

Don distinguished himself as an excellent physician and surgeon as well as a decisive and practical administrator, an excellent problem solver, and was known to be the picture of grace under pressure. For 24 years he was the Medical Superintendent for all United Church hospitals across Canada. He retired from that national staff position in 1988.

Actively involved with the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), Don was committed to improving medical training for rural practice. For 25 years he was a Clinical Instructor for the University of British Columbia Medical School. Beginning in 1980 he served two terms as the President of the British Columbia College of Family Physicians. In 1986–1987 he was President of the CFPC - a period of considerable change for family medicine curriculum and training in Canada and the development of the Four Principles of Family Medicine.

We will cherish Don’s professional accomplishments and his personal friendship. He was a strong leader, a pioneer, a valued colleague, and a dear friend to many. He will be missed.

Don is predeceased by his wife, June, who passed away in 2008.

Together with Dr. Paul Sawchuk, CFPC President, and on behalf of all of us at the CFPC, we extend our deepest sympathies to Don’s children, Dr. Elizabeth Watt (also a CFPC member), Victoria, George and David, and the rest of the Watt family.

Dr. Francine Lemire
Executive Director and CEO


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