February 15, 1930 - October 09, 2014
February 15, 1930 - October 09, 2014
George was born Saturday, February 15, 1930 at Saintfield, County Down, Northern Ireland. Although named Samuel George Skelly, he preferred to be called “George”. George came from a family of four. Older sister Ina has predeceased him. Sister Pearl is living in Northern Ireland and younger brother Hugh lives in Brisbane, Australia.
George was the eldest son of a dairy farmer and worked hard on the farm. He was innovative, introducing a diesel generator, being the first to have electricity in his area. He also raised crops such as barley. He was a potato inspector for his area. He raised chickens and shot rabbits which were sent to England to supplement income and support the war effort.
He received an agricultural scholarship and was well on his way to receiving that degree when he switched to medicine. He graduated from Queen’s University-Belfast, Northern Ireland and returned to attend his 50th reunion in the summer of 2012.
He should have graduated earlier but he had to repeat his finals twice before “his name came up”, because the registrar did not realize that George was exempt in one of the sciences due to his agricultural degree.
George was a marksman with a rifle and still is the only one to hold the indoor and outdoor shooting trophy in the same year for the Ulter Constabulatory.
He spent two years working in Northern Ireland as a doctor, married Alison, had two children Siobhan and Patrick, before getting a call from already immigrated British doctors to come to The Pas. George, Alison and their two children immigrated to Canada in 1969. He had thought of working in Africa.
After he accepted the position in The Pas, he was offered positions in Ontario and Alberta, but being a man of his word he came to The Pas, where he stayed for over 40 years because he loved the people and Clearwater Lake. When he first came to The Pas he worked with doctors: Cotton, Templeton, O’Boyle, Bolton, Lee and others.
His children were educated in The Pas and Winnipeg and eventually moved with their mother Alison to Victoria, B.C., where they finished their schooling. George was to join them in Victoria but that never happened. The children returned to The Pas each summer and worked at the hospital or at the lake. They had a great time with their fun-loving father and many tales about waterskiing, fishing, boating, card playing, and BBQ’s could be told.
George worked 24/7 and especially loved surgery and delivering babies (almost 4,000).
He was a fly-in doctor to many Northern Communities and was the regular weekly doctor to Moose Lake. There were no roads to these places at first. He preferred to fly with Connie Lamb who would let him take the controls. George could not qualify as a pilot due to being deaf in one ear.
He was a member of The Pas Clinic with doctors: Banks, Pinder, Nehra and Noel. He, of course was friends with Dr. Awheng and Dr. Cheam.
George’s “need for speed” was almost his undoing. Several times he totalled not only his vehicles but those he loaned from others. He sustained many injuries, some of them life-threatening, but he always bounced back. He had the “Luck of the Irish” as well as more than 9 lives, usually reserved for cats!!
Not only did George serve the communities he worked in but he served as the Northern Representative for Doctors in Manitoba for many years and was president of this organization from 1998-99. He was also made a Senior Member of the Canadian Medical Association. He was still on several committees when he passed away. In his earlier years, he also served on committees at St. Anthony’s Hospital.
His diagnostic and 6th sense served his patients well. He could get patients seen almost immediately, as he was as persuasive as he was persistent. He would not take no for an answer if his patient needed immediate attention.
Often even his friends would be “Georged”. That is, he could talk you into doing things for him before you realized it!
The number of times George retired is a constant topic. He took a “lateral” retirement from The Pas to Snow Lake, where he was a G.P. for 9 ½ years working with Dr. McLeod.
In Snow Lake he enjoyed being a member of the “Old Foggie’s” club at the curling rink and finally had to admit he couldn’t curl anymore, but he still enjoyed going and watching. He took up golf with his co-worker Sandra Gogal. He became very close to neighbors Paul and Sandy Hawman and Sylvia and Garry Zamzow. When he left Snow Lake (another retirement which was attended by his colleagues from The Pas) the town hated to see him go. He did return for visits but he loved being at Clearwater Lake. George “retired” for 10 months but became bored so he again went to Moose Lake, one day a week. He soon became involved with the walk-in clinic at St. Anthony’s Hospital for two days and Moose Lake that became five days a week at the clinic.
He had to give up his medical practice in January 2014 because of being diagnosed with “Supra Nuclear Palsy” (a Parkinsonian type of disease). The condition caused extreme cold and pain in extremities. His feet lost circulation and amputation became a possibility but he was put on Warfarin and pain medication to circumvent this happening.
In September 2014 he had to go to St. Anthony’s Hospital in The Pas where he spent two weeks under the care of Dr. Golchin. The pain medication caused disorientation and he was concerned and upset because he didn’t know the time or the day. Head nurse Beth, who had worked with him for years set him straight. She said his reactions were not uncommon and he needed time to adjust, which he did.
Before he was discharged he worked with the O.T. and P.T., who even came out to the house to make certain he could get around safely. Neighbor Art Chartrand built him a ramp to get into the house and visited with George as often as possible. Art has also maintained the yard for over 10 years.
During a hospital family telephone conference, George told his children he was ready to leave his cottage at Clearwater Lake and would like to move closer to his daughter Siobhan. They couldn’t believe it and plans were made to move as soon as possible.
He spent the first week out of hospital with his old friend Blanche Ellis, looking in on George if he was on his own. Blanche had just been recently widowed and they had opportunity to reminisce over the loss of her much beloved husband, Frank. The second week out of hospital George had home care. The third week he was driven to live with his daughter Siobhan in Victoria. He arrived there Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
The plan was to have his wife Laura (who he married October 25, 1986) to sell the Clearwater Lake cottage as soon as possible and join him in Victoria where they would rent a place to live. However, George passed away 8 days later Thursday, October 9, 2014 at his daughter’s home in Victoria, British Columbia, at the age of 84 years and 9 months. This was quite unexpected, as he had been seen the previous day by Dr. Paul Nehra, who had taken George on as a patient and he appeared fine.
George conducted himself with his patients, as he did with all who knew him, with kindness, compassion, and selflessness. A loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, he was known for his gentle disposition and mischievous sense of humor. He loved fishing, animals and the great outdoors, but he loved people more and they loved him. He will be missed.
George leaves to mourn his passing, his wife Laura; daughter Siobhan (Rob) and their daughters Nicola and Meaghan of Victoria, BC; son Patrick (Myriam) and their daughters Tessa and Liliane of Saint Sauveur, Quebec; and son Jonathan (Jennifer) of Brantfort, Ontario; sister Pearl Donnan; brother Hugh (Anne) Skelly; nieces Janet Benison, Barbara Neville; and his many colleagues and friends.
Saturday, November 1, 2014 10:30 am
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, The Pas, Manitoba
Under the Auspices of Christ Church Anglican
Presider: Rev. Rebecca Graham Music Ministry: Rita Hayward
Memories of the Heart: Gary Hopper, Dr. Stan Miller, Mr. Gordon Miller, Dr. Sandy Banks, Dr. Mike Pinder, Dr. Colin Noel, Siobhan Kivell, Patrick Skelly, Jonathan Skelly.
Scripture Readings: James Hemauer
Ushers:Colin Noel, Adam Noel, Gary Hopper, Tommy Adam.
Immediately following this service, everyone is invited to join George’s family for a time of fellowship and refreshment at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall.
If friends so desire, donations to the St. Anthony’s Hospital Ladies Auxiliary, Box 240, The Pas, Manitoba, R9A 1K4, would be appreciate by George’s family.
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