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Obituary of Dr. Russell William DAVIDSON
Russell Davidson died peacefully at home with his wife, Mary-Wynne Ashford, at his bedside. His grandson Sam and his wife Eva were also with him. He is predeceased by his infant daughter, Mary Jane, and survived by his first wife, Patricia, four daughters, Katy Ann Davidson (Bruce), Victoria St. Clair Krupa (Daryl), Gillian Margaret Davidson, and Emma Louise Davidson; his three step-children, Karen Ann Barnett (Richard), Graham Allen Ray Ashford (Theresa) and Patrick Robert Ashford (Leah); and ten grandchildren: Brandon, Connor, Natalie, Sam (Eva), Lucie, Aidan, Gavin, Quinn, Lauren and Sephina.
He was born in Montreal PQ, and grew up in Wick, Scotland. After his parents died when he was young, he was raised by his uncle Eric and great aunt Emma. He graduated in Medicine from the University of Edinburgh in 1957. After completing his training he did three years of military service in the Royal Navy as a Surgeon Lieutenant on HMS Warrior. He observed the hydrogen bomb tests at Christmas Island, an experience so horrifying he never forgot it. He emigrated to Canada in 1959 and practiced family medicine in Victoria. He loved his patients and found medicine a deeply satisfying career for forty years.
His great aunt Emma, who was an art teacher, taught him to carry a sketch-book at all times. He left behind dozens of books of pencil sketches. He particularly loved portraiture, figure drawing and calligraphy, but also painted watercolors, sculpted, and made silver jewelry.
In 1982 he told Mary-Wynne the three things most important to him in life were: 1. to make some kind of difference toward a better world; 2. to share a deep, loving relationship; and 3. good food. He sometimes thought #3 might be higher on the list. Mary-Wynne had the same first two but good food did not make her top 10 list, or even her top 80. When Russell moved in, he took over the cooking. Mary-Wynne's sons and grandsons share his love of cooking today.
In 1984, when Mary-Wynne became terrified about the threat of nuclear war, Russell's memories of the hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific led him to promise that if she would become an activist, he would take care of the family and her patients when she had to be away. He traveled with her to World Congresses of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and supported her work by giving advice, proofreading articles and listening to endless speeches.
He collected poetry books and antique games. He took French courses at UVic while he was still practicing, and then after 17 years of study, he completed his degree in French in 2005. He studied a bit of Japanese and enjoyed trying it out in Japan. Paris and Kyoto were his favorite cities. He was known for his great pleasure in chatting to people in shops, museums, galleries, and libraries, no matter where he was.
He developed an unusual form of dementia that somehow left his sweet, social nature, his insight and his sense of humor intact. He retained his skill at portraiture until the last few months of his life. Artist Alison McKinnon, took him out two afternoons a week for over two years. They sketched together and drank coffee in his various haunts. When he couldn't manage getting to and from the Portrait class at Monterey Rec Centre by HandiDart, Alison signed up and took him with her. She then organized an Art Show for his work in our home. He was thrilled and amazed to see so many people come to see his sculptures, paintings and drawings.
He delighted in visitors, especially from his grandchildren who would stay a couple of hours to play cards or a peg-board game, changing the rules as they went along so that Russell always won. They seemed to love hearing his stories of the Navy.
We want to thank Gina Lagata and all the other people who cared for him before he went into St. Charles Manor, the staff at St. Charles, especially nurses Wilma Ramos and Leah Chisholm who were so committed to his care in the last week of his life. We thank Doctor Ross McKay, his highly skilled family doctor for over thirty years, Dr. Ian Gillespie, who diagnosed his dementia and helped us to respond, and Dr. Douglas McGregor from Hospice Victoria. We are very grateful to Hospice PRT nurse, Sandra Danelesko.
We thank our friends, our children, grandchildren, and extended family for their warm and generous support through the past few years. Mary-Wynne is deeply grateful to Sam and Eva Barnett who stayed over with her for two weeks giving love and support. Their extraordinary compassionate care allowed Russell to come home for his final days.
Russell touched many people with his open-hearted presence. Doctor, mentor, husband, father and friend. He will be greatly missed.
A Celebration of his life will be held at St. Ann's Academy on September 8th from 4:00 to 6 pm.
In lieu of flowers you might wish to make a donation to Victoria Hospice.
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