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WILLEY, John James Patrick

February 19, 1935 – Mount Forest, Ontario
January 2, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta

John Willey of Calgary, AB passed away on January 2, 2019 at the age of 83 years. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.

In living memory of John Willey, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Fish Creek, 14441 Bannister Road S.E., Calgary, AB, T2X 3J3, Telephone: 403-256-9575.

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Condolence Messages

  1. My condolences to John’s family and friends.
    John was an important friend to me for almost 40 years, regularly calling to discuss his career with the City of Calgary and Alberta Health Services, his visits to family in Ontario, and his acreage properties in Mount Forest and Calgary.
    I will really miss him.

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  2. Charles Nakamura

    I have known John since the working days at City of Calgary, and found him to be a very compassionate and caring as well as his dry humour. I will miss his presence at our regular luncheons and phone calls.

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  3. I have known John for 50 years with our time at the City of Calgary.
    He will be missed at our monthly gatherings.

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  4. I have known John for the past 15 years. He was always interested in what I was doing, travel or civic affairs. I will miss his phone calls and his presence at our periodic gatherings. John didn’t like his photo being taken but attached is a candid shot I took when I was photographing his acreage (he referred to it as his “gated community”) in July 2010.

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  5. Since starting work for The City I knew John as Dr. Willey. He was the city hall’s dentist, always working for better treatment for Calgary. Will miss the city hall discussions at the Danish Canadian Club with John. I know Mayor Sykes appreciated his work for Calgarians.

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  6. It was with great sorrow to hear of the passing of John. I had the privilege of knowing John for over 20 years. A kind, gentle man who will sorely be missed.
    Rest in peace my friend.

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  7. Public Health has lost a great advocate.A man that set out to ensure that all people in Calgary had access to good dental health care.He took a small one office City Hall operation and expanded it to six strategically located full size dental clinics,some in very high needs areas.John always ensured that the clinics were operated to the highest professional standard.This man had ethics that were unshakable. A good man ,I shall miss him at our “one beer Willey ” lunches.My sympathy to his family.

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  8. Deepest sympathy and thoughts of support are sent to John’s family. He was a good friend and frequent lunchtime walking companion when we worked together in Calgary years ago. We remained in contact over recent years . I appreciated the conversations we had when we were able to catch up and share thoughts on changes in life, and the world. I will miss him and the opportunity for a comfortable friendship.

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  9. Pat[Patricia] Morris

    If John’s heart, was in Calgary. Then his inner spirit, remained forever bonded, with his childhood upbringing in Mount Forest.
    He was a life-long, supporter of St.Mary’s RC Church, and a passionate advocate, for the Mt.Forest Archives, the Wellington Co. Museum, and a local yearly magazine, called the Homer.
    Our shared love, of the historical preservation, of the town of Mt.Forest, created, a 15 yr. friendship, between Us.
    And “that” my Dear Friend, towards, future communication, I am definitely, going to miss.
    RIP- John… You certainly, deserve it…

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  10. Getting to know John over the years was a valued gift. As others have said he was a caring soul and a great conversationalist. He had an amazing sense of humour and was always willing to share it. John was always asking about our grandchildren, whom he never met but cared for in our conversations greatly. He was like family when we talked. As others I will miss him and our chats and conversations; many on the phone. He would call out of the blue and then apologise for calling, no matter what time of day. Wish my phone would ring now, we still had lots to talk about yet. Rest in peace Doc.

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  11. I am shocked to read about Dr. Willey’s passing.
    I was his secretary at Calgary Health for more than 10 years.
    He was always so good to me. We worked well together.
    I am so sad by this news.

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  12. We are so sad to hear the news. RIP.

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  13. My heartfelt condolences to Dr. Willey’s family and friends. I’ve known him since 1980 when I first started working in the Public Health Dental Program with The City of Calgary, then AHS . He was a true advocate for dental care for low income families. We kept in touch by phone after his retirement. I will miss him and his humour which he often shared during our long chats. I was so sad to hear of his passing. Rest in peace JW .

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  14. All of the volunteers at the Mount Forest Museum & Archives were deeply saddened to hear of John’s death. He was a loyal and active friend to local heritage and all things Mount Forest. His regular visits were always filled with humour, interest and generosity. We will miss seeing him in our Reading Room and hearing his warm stories of his Mount Forest childhood.

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  15. I remember fondly how he used to chuckle when he called and asked to speak to Pat Lim at work and my response was ‘she’s occupied’ or when her phone line ‘was engaged ‘ when I first started work with the Calgary Health Services in 1980.
    My deepest sympathy to Dr.Willey’s family.
    Rest In Peace Dr.Willey

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  16. In the 1960s, as one of the few dentists in Alberta who had post-graduate training in Dental Public Health, and a Fellowship in the Royal College of Dentists of Canada, Dr Willey set out to defend Calgary’s fairly unique dental care program for indigent children. He submitted a lengthy report, completely handwritten – which caught the attention and favour of Mayor Sykes. The ensuing Mayor and Commissioners’ support allowed him to expand clinics and staff to care for the increasing number of children who suffered from tooth pain and dental neglect. An early advocate in the (unending) battle of water fluoridation in Calgary, he promoted evidence-based information, and brought in researcher Dr Ernest Newbrun as an expert to testify when the matter went to trial.

    Following his early brushes with municipal governance, he retained many contacts in City of Calgary offices, and gained more after health services split off to become a separate organization. He knew people in all the Community Clinics. As a member of The Canadian Society of Public Health Dentists (1966-1994) he had contacts across Alberta and Canada in Dental Public Health and dental school training programs. He made good use of his list to sniff out potential changes to clinics, budgets or reporting relationships, and also for character references when assessing prospective employees. A man of his time, Dr Willey’s leadership style was definitely the ‘command and control’ method, where information was guarded and shared only when absolutely essential. This approach worked for him, but left some teams bewildered.

    Dr Willey had a sixth sense for detecting BS and rarely hesitated to call it out. On the other hand, this clear-eyed approach gave him an ability to spot talent; he populated the dental program with skilled and dedicated staff who helped achieve his near-divine mission of running a clean, effective office. He detailed each expense to the last penny and demanded the same from everyone else. (He once asked if it cost the program any money to send a one-page personal fax via the corporate machine) Dr Willey arrived at work early and left late.

    A quote he hand wrote (in a notecard): “The ingredients and values that produce a successful family/individual are those that make a successful community/workplace”.

    To his staff and friends Dr Willey sent handwritten messages, carefully ruler-lined – unmistakably his own unusual style. That unusually neat penmanship (with below-the-line g, j, p, q, and y ‘tails’ added afterwards) contrasted greatly with his personal filing system – scattered piles of folders, papers, books and mail on his desk, bookshelf, windowsill and spilling across much of the floor. Despite the apparent disorder, he typically found a needed document within a few minutes. He loved sending and receiving (Canada Post) mail and might intercept it before it even arrived on his Secretary’s desk. In the final few years of his career he started learning to use a computer keyboard and mouse; mostly by playing games (after work hours, of course). He retired from Public Health in October 1997 after some 35 years on the job. Under his signature, his formal correspondence always ended with “John J. Willey BA, DDS, DDPH, FRCD(C)”.

    In retirement he continued his regular visits to hometown Mount Forest, Ontario; he pursued his avocation of tracking down distant relatives (e.g. in the USA or Australia) by long distance telephone and/or handwritten letter, and delighted in swinging by his piece of undeveloped property in Northwest Calgary. He stayed in touch with many colleagues and loved to tell stories about the ‘old days’ with Mayor Sykes. He continued to drive his huge old car and remained in his modest rental apartment.

    I got to know Dr Willey during the 17 years I worked for his program, first as a clinic dentist, and later as clinic manager. He was a key figure in the development of my career in dental public health; I’m grateful now for thanking him sincerely for that during his lifetime. After he left, and the organization evolved, we saw each other much less frequently. Nonetheless, the direction that John set and the path that he forged served Calgary’s Dental Public Health Program well for decades and still continues: delivering efficient and effective care for disadvantaged people, by dedicated staff who care about their patients, and who are part of a larger health care system devoted to helping the whole person.

    On behalf of the many thousands of patients who have healthier lives, who have benefitted from services that Dr Willey helped to build and organize, and on behalf of the many staff who were touched by his determination to do things right, I offer my heartfelt condolences to John’s family and friends.

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  17. John his sister Ruth were a part of the St. Mary’s church and school community for many years–until he left Mount Forest. I haven’t seen him since, but his presence was always kept alive by his regular contributions to Mount Forest’s Homer magazine. I’ve attached a photo taken at meal time at on of our annual Cub & Scout camps. He’s the first kid on the left!

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  18. I had the privilege of knowing John through his property in Dalhousie. We were next door neighbours and talked several times at length about community, politics and investments. I knew John to be a kind, caring and peaceful person. I will miss him

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  19. John and June Wutzke will miss talking to you and seeing you every so often. Condolences for the family on your loss.

    John and June Wutzke

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