Obituary of Dr. Robert Gilbert McKellar
Dr. Robert Gilbert McKellar
November 9, 1940 – November 15, 2020
Robert (Rob/Bob) died on Sunday, November 15th, peacefully and courageously in the comforting presence of loved ones, a short time after his 80th birthday. He passed with dignity, great compassion, strong conviction and with both his sharp mind and dry sense of humour firmly intact.
Robert, son of Mack and Elsie McKellar, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rob lived his childhood years in Halifax until the family relocated to Devon, England where Rob spent his formative, high school years. Following high school, Rob moved up to Scotland where he attended medical school at the University of Edinburgh. It was there that he met Anne McCurrach, who would become his wife. Like many at the time, Rob and Anne saw Canada as a great place to plant roots (or in Rob’s case replant roots). They settled in Toronto. It was here that they raised their family and where Rob began his long and celebrated career in medicine. Rob leaves behind all of his beloved children and grandchildren: his son Justin, Justin’s wife Jen (Barbour) and grandkids Henry and Juliet; daughter Ashley McKellar, her husband Andrew (Leitch) and grandkids Hamish, Fiona and Isobel; and son Hayden and grandson Finley; all of whom will miss him dearly. He will also be missed greatly by the McCurrach Clan in Scotland.
Robert cherished his role as a family doctor for over 50 years, and continued to practice with enduring dedication and devotion until the end. Despite house calls having fallen long out of practice, Rob continued them throughout his career. The outpouring of appreciation sent his way year after year, at Christmas, and especially on his retirement, is testament to his legacy as a caring doctor and human being. He will be fondly remembered by his patients, some for whom he was the only doctor they ever knew and whose children and grandchildren would say the same. Rob will also be fondly remembered by his many colleagues, many of whom became dear friends.
Rob was a true renaissance man; he loved sports, music, literature and the arts. His musical heart rested in the 1930s-1940s era of the Great American Songbook. After a long day at work, he brought classics like Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust to life on his baby grand. On family road trips, his wood paneled Buick station wagon would magically transform into a jazz club on wheels. We will always hold dear the memory of his fingers dancing along the dashboard as he sang in harmony with the likes of Billie Holiday, only to rudely interrupt himself with a reflexive sneezing fit induced by a ray of sunshine. He was a talented painter and actor in his youth. As an athlete Rob would recall with pride and tongue firmly in cheek that he was the all-star centre for his 1950s Devonshire Grammar School basketball team. He never stopped cheering for the Jays and the Bills. He loved to play catch with his sons and accompany Ashley to father-daughter dances. He always recalled, with special fondness, our family time and travels with Nan and James.
Rob and Anne remained close after their marriage ended, focused on family and forever friends. Rob spent some of his final days and weeks at the family home, with tremendous care and love from Hayden, Ashley, Justin, Anne and Andrew. The family would like to thank those near and dear for their calls and visits, which Rob enjoyed without anyone being maudlin. The better bottles of scotch were uncorked. Special thanks to David Thomson and Vlado Mirkovic for their long and ongoing support of Rob and his independence.
While the difficulty of coping with such a loss may be compounded by these difficult times, comfort may be taken by the knowledge that his battles with poor health, which had caused increasing pain and concern in recent months, have come to an end. The thought of him being reunited with loved ones who have gone before also helps to bring a smile to one’s face. And we hope these words he sang to a visitor in recent days are true:
We'll meet again
Don't know where, don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
In light of present circumstances, a celebration of Rob's life will be planned for a later time when those whose lives he touched and enriched can safely come together to raise a wee dram and remember him. His family look forward to that occasion and will be communicating those details once a date has been set. Until then, please honour Rob’s memory by taking care of one another and by providing reassurance to those in need. If desired, donations can be made to Parkinson Canada or Doctors Without Borders. Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.