Obituary of Alexander Russell
Alexander Russell (1930 - 2022)
The Russell family lost their guiding light and Lieutenant Surgeon on November 14, 2022 when Alexander (Alastair) Russell, died at the age of 92 in North York, Ontario. He is finally at peace and can rest after a difficult battle with heart disease.
Alex was forever focused on the paths of his family, spending as much time as possible with each of his spouse, children, and extended family using the magic of travel to bring those people together while using his career in the medical industry to support that focus. Born March 23, 1930 in Inverkeithing, Scotland; educated in Fife and East Lothian, Alastair graduated with his medical degree from Edinburgh University in 1954. Adult life took over quickly from there. Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1955 as Lieutenant Surgeon aboard the HMS Adamant; married to the delightful Ruth Healey in 1957 and discharged in 1958. Alastair and Ruth had a highly active, newsworthy life in Scotland highlighted by being front page news as he accompanied a Norwegian diver who had contracted “the bends” into a tank for 40 hours to re-engage in depressurization.
Once discharged Alastair and Ruth decided that their future lay abroad and later that year boarded the SS Empress of England bound for Montreal, Canada then train to Regina, Saskatchewan. Here they set up for their new life welcoming son Ian and daughter Carol during this time. Desire to specialize in Anesthesia led the family to move to Toronto in 1966 where Alex then interned/resided at multiple hospitals achieving full accreditation in 1969 and joining the team at Toronto General Hospital Anesthesia Associates group. Through that journey he was part of the team of physicians and surgeons who performed the first successful heart transplant at St Michael’s Hospital in 1968. The family continued to grow when son Andrew was born in North York.
Medicine was Alex’s vocation but building a life for his family in Canada was his true focus. He and Ruth as expats in a foreign land learned via their friends, friends’ kids and their kids the critical skill sets for life as Canadians in Saskatchewan and Ontario. They learned to skate, to curl, to fly airplanes, and to water ski. They enjoyed cottage country life in the Kawarthas where Alex could work away the stresses of the hospital via gardening, and painting and landscaping. Alex became a strong tennis player with a wicked slice serve and he and Ruth mastered the tradition of travel to get away from the winters first via conventions, then family trips, then golf/tennis experiences. He could throw a frisbee as well as any local, do the side stroke across lakes, back up his car/boat into any ramp no matter how tight, and make a mean pot of tea with a ceaseless stash of cookies.
Throughout his life Alastair/Alex (always a mystery) will be remembered as a compassionate, highly skilled doctor, while at home a caring family leader who emphasized spending real quality time with Ruth, kids Ian and wife Loretta, Carol and husband Philip, Andrew and wife Sheryl and later grandchildren Nicholas, Elizabeth and Alexandra. Ruth having been by his side, and often pushing him forward for those many adventures will now lead the Russell family with all of our support.
A memorial service will be held on Friday December 2 at 11am at Humphrey Funeral Home, A.W. Miles-Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Ave. (south of Davisville). Reception to follow from 3pm to 6pm at the Russell Family home. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada would be very much appreciated.
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