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BIRRELL – Dr. John Douglas

February 12, 1913 – May 20, 2010
“A Quality Man”

After a wonderful life filled with memories of much happiness and love, John passed away peacefully on Thursday May 20 at the age of 97 years following a brief illness.

The son of Howard and Harriet Birrell, John was born in Toronto on February 12, 1913. He graduated as a Medical Doctor from the University of Toronto in 1939, receiving his F.R.C.P. prior to serving as a Medical Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Dr. Birrell became a highly respected paediatrician, practicing for thirty years with the Calgary Associate Clinic. After retirement, he and Dorothy travelled extensively, spending winters in California and Victoria. They became residents of Victoria for several years, acquiring many wonderful friendships there but moved back to Calgary to be close to their family. For the past two years, Dorothy and John have been residents at Canyon Meadows Retirement Residence where he enjoyed many new friendships with the staff and other residents who enjoyed his playful and fun personality traits. He truly could light up a room!

John had numerous hobbies, talents, and interests. He has left a legacy that includes beautifully faceted jewellery and free form lapidary, a treasured book (co-authored with Dorothy) entitled “You and I” which chronicles our family history and the seventy-three wonderful years they spent together, and “Shades of Gray,” a book featuring a collection of his black and white photography. He was the founding member of the Hippocratic Oath Big Band, now known as The Oath. John was a member of the Foothills Camera Club, receiving many awards for his photographs, the Calgary Lapidary Club, and the Calgary Faceters Guild. He was proud to be the founder of the Vancouver Island Faceters Guild.

To his grateful and loving family, there has never been a kinder, more dedicated man. We are truly blessed to cherish many fond and special memories of him, which bring us peace and helps comfort us at this time.
“So to sweet romance
There is just one answer
You and I”
John is survived by Dorothy, his loving wife of sixty-seven years, sons David (Leslie), Doug (Simonne), daughters Susan (Andy Lockhart) and Maralee (Gary Pozzo). John’s life was filled with the joy of ten special grandchildren; Gregg (Ruthie), Karen (Jay Fjestad), Janet (Chris Scase), Renee (Ryan Duckworth), Robert, Cathy Lockhart Roberts, Stephen (Kerry Lockhart), Kevin (Andrea Pozzo), Michael (Renee Pozzo) and Kent Pozzo. John is also survived by thirteen wonderful great grandchildren, and his sister Eileen Rhamey and family. At John’s request, no service will be held. Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. If you wish to make a donation in his memory, please direct it to the charity of your choice.

In living memory of John Birrell, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Telephone: (403) 243-8200.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Sarabeth Carnat :

    Deepest condolences from me & my family. I often think of John & Dorothy as I did at the recent Calgary Rock Lapidary Club annual show sale. My memories of childhood both with our families together as well as visits to Doctor Birrell for annual vaccines and the tadpole tank are cherished. My warmest thoughts to all of you
    Sarabeth Carnat

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  2. john dawson :

    Pauly and I enjoyed many good times with John–at the associate clinic, and afterwords,during his retirement. He and Dorothy remained good friends for many years, and we will both miss him.

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  3. Dawn Ewonus and the Ewonus Family :

    We are all so sorry to hear of the passing of dear Dr. Birrell. He was such a good man. Your description as “a quality man” is exactly correct. He will be greatly missed, but I consider our family so lucky to have had him as a part of our (early) lives. He was the pediatrician for my older sister, my younger brother, and me. (From approximately 1964 to 1974?). I still remember him coming to our house, in the dark of winter – after a full day of work – making a house call! I know my mother was so thankful to find this great man, to be our doctor – he helped her (and us) in so many circumstances. He was so kind and gentle, we all loved him. He really was an amazing man, with a great heart and a great spirit. Thank you to his whole family – for letting Dr. Birrell share some of his time with the rest of us. It was our pleasure to have known this “quality man”. Sincerely, Dawn Ewonus

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  4. Bev & George Setterington :

    To Dave and Leslie
    Saddened to learn of the loss of your father. Sending sincere thoughts of comfort.
    Bev & George Setterington

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  5. Bob and Sharon Dingle :

    We are so sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Birrell. Our thoughts are with you.
    Bob & Sharon Dingle

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  6. Sandie Tucker :

    To Maralee and Gary,

    So sorry to hear of the passing of your father and know what a loss it will be to all the members of the family. Take care.

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  7. Glen and Jan Myers :

    We are saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Birrell.
    It was a pleasure to see his lapidary work and photographs.
    He certainly was a man of many talents and interests.
    John and Dorothy were great neighbours for many years at Briar Park Estates.
    Our thoughts are with the family.
    Jan and Glen Myers

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  8. David James :

    From my family to yours please accept our heartfelt sympathy for your loss.

    Very Best Regards

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  9. Lynn Christie :

    I am so very sorry to hear of the passing of your dad. He was a wonderful and inspirational man. He has left his mark on many lives, even those he met only briefly.

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  10. Catherine Waddell :

    To Dave in Nanton and your extended family, I am sorry to hear of the loss of your father. My dad, Jim Waddell, practiced internal medicine in town at the same time as your father was working. Our families both lived in
    Scarboro and went to school together. Dave, you kindly spoke to me at the Lancaster Museum in Nanton, when I was visiting there, and showed me a photo of the members of my father’s RCAF squadron, shortly after he died. Your kind interest in my father’s life and passing meant a great deal to me at the time – I hope to extend the same courtesy to you.
    Sincerely, Catherine Waddell
    403-244-8614

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  11. Donna & George Findlay :

    To Dorthy and Family: Donna and I are saddened by John’s passing. Both he and you Dorthy brought much into our lives, particularly setting me on 35 years Musical fun. God be with you. Donna & George

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  12. To Dorothy and Family: We are so sorry to hear of the passing of the man we knew as Dr. Birrell, my pediatrician, and dear friend of our family for many years.
    Ken Birch and family.

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  13. Leigh Schnell :

    Dear Dorothy, Dave, Doug, Susan, Maralee and families:
    It was with great sadness that I heard of John’s passing. But what a wonderful life he led and what a beautifully close family he has left behind.
    I was always so impressed with John’s zest for learning and ability to succeed in so many pursuits. Two of my children were fortunate to have his care until his retirement.
    Mostly I was taken with his super attitude about life and the way he and Dorothy lived it with such zest and wonderful senses of humor.
    May your hearts heal soon.

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  14. Don Sandford :

    I received a note in the mail yesterday from my sister. Enclosed was Dr. Birrell’s obituary. The note said: “if it had not been for this man you would not be alive today”.

    My twin brother Bob and I were born 69 days premature on December 23, 1949 each weighing 3 1/2 lbs and survived in an incubator under the care of Dr. Birrell.

    We grew up and went to Henry Wise Wood and knew Gary Pozzo and Maralee Birrell.

    For 60 years Dr. Birrell has been held in the highest regard by our family.

    Don and Bob Sandford

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  15. Donna Rupert :

    Maralee and Gary, I am so sorry to hear of your father passing. My thoughts are with you.

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