Dr. Phillip ASHMORE

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ASHMORE, Dr. Phillip GodfreyBeloved son of Amy and C.P. Ashmore, passed away on September 1, 2011 in the loving presence of his three children and best friend, Kerry. Phil lived a full and meaningful life - 85 extraordinary years - and was blessed with the love, friendship and support of a wide circle of family, dear friends and colleagues. He was born in Vancouver on February 13th 1926. His favourite Auntie Norah stood on her head when she heard the news. Phillip moved to Anyox, B.C., a small mining town on the coast. Here the family began their journey as We three. Young Phillip adored his first dog and delighted in watching trains. His parents thought he would become an engineer. In the 1930's, C.P. moved the family to Bralorne and it was in the heart of this community that Phillip grew up. He always said he owed much of his success in life to the people who nurtured him from the entire Bridge River Valley. Phil spent a great deal of time making model airplanes and flying them on the banks of Cadwalleder Creek. His parents thought he might become a pilot, but the dexterity involved in model plane building served him well when he chose a career in medicine and eventually surgery. After several years of study at U.B.C., (making great friends of the musicians), he pursued a medical degree at the University of Toronto, as B.C. did not have a medical school at the time. His class of '48 were to remain life long friends. In 1949 Phil returned to Bralorne and Pioneer Hospitals as a newly minted G.P., bringing with him his bride Mary Jane. Moving from the urban Toronto world at the Hospital For Sick Children to a tiny, remote mountainous village in B.C. was quite a change! Phil and Jane returned to further studies in Toronto, under the guidance of Bill Mustard and moved to London, England on Fellowship in 1954, to train with Sir Russell Brock in pediatric thoracic surgery. Phil Ashmore will be remembered as a visionary, who wanted to develop cardiac surgery in Vancouver at a time when there were only a few training programs in the USA and one in Toronto. He did the first open heart operation in April 1957 with Dr. Peter Allen, the beginning of a long professional relationship. Along with a spectacular group of Vancouver colleagues, the team moved pediatric surgery forward for the benefit of all British Columbians. Phil had a great eye for talent, and brought a young Dr. Graham Fraser to Vancouver. He became a pioneer in pediatric general surgery, a long time colleague and an amazing friend to Phil's last day. In 1976, Phil started to plan for a new pediatric childrens facility with his friend and head of pediatrics, Dr. Rob Hill. They worked tirelessly to lobby government, design the space, survey construction and organize the moving from V.G.H. into the new Children's Hospital in July 1982. John Tegenfeld, C.E.O. of B.C. Childrens, was an instrumental member of that team. In 1983, Phil brought on his young colleague Jacques LeBlanc, who he mentored with love and respect. Jacques carried on his work, after Phil's retirement and remained a lifetime support and true friend. As you All know, Phil loved music - singing at campfires, house parties, medical meetings, any occasion possible! He never met a microphone he didn't like. He played guitar, loved to listen to jazz and had the privilege of "sitting in" with many talented musicians. The Phil and Hill Show is remembered fondly by many. He also loved his garden and served on the board of Van Dusen Gardens, while enjoying the leisure years sailing on Bluesette, playing tennis, skiing and relishing cabin time at Gun Lake with his grandchildren. We all thank you Dad for the many life lessons you taught us - good and not so good. They all shape who we become. Thank you for teaching us to cherish time in nature, to sing for joy and sorrow, to improvise like you did when putting in the float or sewing up the Thanksgiving turkey! Phil is survived by his three children, Peter (Terry), Norah (Will) and Patrick (Stephanie), his grandchildren, Aaron and Amy, William and Gannon, Nele, and the children and grandchildren of his beloved wife, Esther, who predeceased him in 2007. Special thanks to Dr. Tom Gibson, the wonderful staff at V.G.H., and all of you on Phil's care team in his times of need. Love is always the answer, no matter what the question. In memory of Dr. Phil Ashmore a gift to The B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation would be appreciated, 938 W. 28th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., V5Z 4H4. A celebration of Phil's life will be held on Sunday, October 16 at The Royal Vacouver Yacht Club from 11 am to 3 pm.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on Sept. 10, 2011
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