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MacCANNELL, Keith Leonard

MD, PhD, FRCP(C), FACP
January 8, 1934 – Transcona, Manitoba
May 8, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta

Keith MacCannell, beloved husband and father, doctor, scientist, professor, and mentor, passed away on May 8, 2019, at the age of 85. Keith’s life was defined by his love for those close to him and his tremendous work ethic.

Brilliant, serious, and mischievous, Keith excelled as a student, professional, and academic. He was born to a railway family in Transcona, Manitoba, and worked summers in a rail yard and airport. As a high school student, he won the Governor General’s academic medal for Manitoba. He earned his medical degree in 1958 as the gold medalist in his class, and a PhD in pharmacology in 1963.

As a young man, Keith completed a medical residency and fellowship in Canada and the US, before he left a faculty position in Vancouver to help found Calgary’s medical school in 1969. Demonstrating his pioneering spirit and sense of adventure, he joined the U of C in the newly founded Faculty of Medicine, as Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics and Associate Dean of Research. Always seeking new challenges and knowledge, he completed a second fellowship, in gastroenterology, at the age of 50. He later served as Calgary’s Chief of Gastroenterology from 1996 to 2000.

Shortly after moving to Calgary, he met his wife, Linda Ross MacCannell (née Mapel; married 1972), with whom he raised a family of three boys: Duncan, Keith Andrew, and Donald. He is also survived by three granddaughters whom he adored: Finnleigh, Ellie, and Rowan, with a fourth expected in August.

In rare moments of free time, Keith enjoyed reading, woodworking, and travel. Together, Linda and Keith were founding board members of the Alberta Science Centre Society, working together in their passion for science education. Keith served on countless other boards and community projects throughout his long career, including a term as President of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta.

His family fondly remembers his bedtime stories, world-ranging museum visits, and his good-humoured resistance to entropy in a household of three boys. Throughout his life, he supported his family and urged the people close to him to live up to their full potential. His children’s success and happiness were enormous sources of pride.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 18, at 2:00 pm at the McInnis and Holloway Chapel of the Bells (2720 Centre St. N, Calgary, AB). Memorial tributes may be made directly to The Alzheimer Society Alberta and Northwest Territories (www.alzheimer.ab.ca). Please specify that the contribution is intended for research. Having spent his life seeking answers to medical questions, Keith knew that we could solve this puzzle as well.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Douglas G McCannel

    Linda and Family, Our family is so very sorry for your loss. While we are not blood, we are more, WE ARE FAMILY and thus friends.
    Should there be a memorial service at some time I would love to attend.

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  2. On behalf of Elaine and myself; sincere condolences on the passing of your husband. We are just a phone call away for anything you might need; wishing you much comfort during this difficult time.

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  3. I read the notice of Keith’s death in this mornings Herald with chagrin and a sense of loss. I had the very real pleasure of working with Keith during much of his time at the Faculty of Medicine. He was a man of humor, integrity, compassion. He never seemed to tire of thoughtful questioning of the world in which he worked. He was admired by all of us at the Foothills Hospital as he worked with humor and skill to make gastroenterology better for all those in need. To Linda and family I pray for strength and peace during this difficult time.

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  4. Gerry and Sandy Karr

    Dear Linda, Duncan, Drew and Donald, though now is a time of unspeakable sorrow for you, I hope you will find comfort in knowing what a wonderful legacy Keith has given the world through his many talents as a scientist and a physician, but most of all as a caring mentor and teacher. His quest for excellence and passion for critical thinking will live on in the works of so many others who have learned at his feet. The world is a much better place because of him. Sandy and I will be with you at the memorial.

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  5. Dear Linda and family,
    I am so sorry for this immense loss. We in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Calgary send our thoughts and love to you at this difficult time. I remember Keith so well, he supervised me during my very first gastroscopy while I was a resident – sparking my love of GI, of endoscopy and of patient care. He was a giant in our Division and will be sincerely missed. Take care and much love from us all. Kerri Novak

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  6. On Behalf of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, those of us who were around at the beginning(70’s & 80’s) remember Keith well. As we were trying to get an understanding of these Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, trying to decide what we needed to do for these mostly unknown conditions; Keith was very helpful, giving talks, doing research, and being a specialist to many. To the family of Keith , thanks for sharing him with us, he was an important part of the mystery of IBD in Calgary and the medical world. Wilma Clark

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  7. Wendy A Hutchins

    Duncan, Tara and Drew – our thoughts are with you and all your family. Please extend our thoughts to all.

    Wendy and Guido

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  8. Deane MacCannell

    In the days when I Lived at grandma MacCannell‘s house from four to about eight or nine Keith was a regular in my life. He may not have been there daily in person but almost everyone of grandma MacCannell‘s phone calls to her friends entrance gonna had to include the phrase “my son the doctor”, for her it was as if he had no other name. I remember finding that quite funny as a child. I was very proud to have an uncle like Keith and he was always very kind to me. He intuitively seem to understand that as a tomboy I didn’t always need dolls. The mini brick log cabin set, yellow convertible dinky toy car and the crank helicopter that actually went in the air where some of my prized possessions at grandmas house. I will remember him with kind thoughts and loving memories …. Deane Wallis MacCannell

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