With great sadness we announce the passing of Dr. William (Bill) Beamish on June 21, 2013 at the University of Alberta Hospital.
He is survived by Helen, his loving wife of 61 years; his children Bill, Lynn, David (Karen), Richard (Adele), Patti (Mark), Mark; and grandchildren Sarah, Laura, Paul, Nicholas, Connor, Nigel, Sullivan, Dominique, Riley, Becki, Emily, Spencer, Brenna; his sister-in– law Janice (Bob); his friends, and professional colleagues. Bill had the love and respect of all who knew him and were touched by his caring, generosity, and selflessness towards everyone in his life.
Bill was raised by his mother, Klyne, with his two sisters, Jean and May (both predeceased), after his father, a medical doctor, passed away suddenly when he was just a toddler. His lifelong ambition was to follow his father into medicine, a dream he realized by hard work in academics, and working many jobs to pay for his own education. Medicine appealed to both the scientist and the humanitarian sides of Bill — a perfect blend to forge a career he both loved and at which he excelled.
He married his childhood sweetheart Helen and they had almost 61 years of marriage together, raising a family and sharing a life of working and travelling, with all the joy of a couple bound by love, commitment, and respect.
Believing in traditional values, Bill taught his children the importance of manners, kindness, and understanding that created a legacy to pass on to subsequent generations. He loved animals, music, and golf, as well as the study of history and ancient cultures.
Spending most of his life in Edmonton, Bill graduated from University High School in 1948. He then attended the University of Alberta, completing an undergraduate Science degree and a general medicine degree in 1956. Following his internship at the University of Alberta Hospital, he did a residency program, prior to deciding that his medical education could not be complete without family/general practice experience, caring for patients at a primary level of care. He therefore accepted an offer to move to Brooks, Alberta, working in a partnership at a clinic for a period of five years. The respect he earned from the compassion he showed for his patients led to the town naming a street after him following his departure.
Ever the scientist, Bill decided to continue his academic pursuit by taking a specialty residency in Radiology (Pediatric) in Montreal, completing his diploma in Diagnostic Radiology in Saskatoon in 1967.
Moving to Edmonton in 1968, he achieved the distinction of successfully writing his admission exams to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. Bill practised radiology at the University of Alberta Hospital and served as a Clinical Professor in the Faculty of Medicine where he loved teaching young medical students while carrying on a busy practice, earning the affection and respect of the staff and students alike. While there he also developed the Beamish catheter, used in cardiac studies, which he donated to the University Hospital.
Due to health difficulties, Bill retired unwillingly from medicine at 61 years of age. He terribly missed everything about the hospital, patients, students, staff, and above all, medicine itself. Until the end, he was Dr. Bill. In retirement, Bill and Helen spent many happy years together, golfing at Mayfair in the summer, and spending winters in Palm Desert. Husband and father, dad was a special man who took pride in his children and grandchildren, and had an unwavering love for Helen.
Passing away quietly, surrounded by family, following an adverse health event was what he would have wished for himself. Never one to brag about his own accomplishments, he died as he lived, with grace and dignity, and the love of all of us.
Following his own wishes, a private ceremony and funeral have been held with his immediate family celebrating a life lived large. As he would have most wanted, anyone paying respects can make a donation to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, if they so wish. The family would like to thank Dr. Brindley and the staff on the neurological intensive care unit and in emergency for their care and compassion.