Bernard Joseph Reilly

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Reilly-DeathJune 20, 1926 – January 25, 2013

Obituary of Bernard Joseph Reilly, M.A., M.B., Ch.B, F.R.C.P.(C), Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto and former Radiologist-in-Chief at the Hospital for Sick Children. After many days in darkness, Barney, a proud Scot, on Robert Burns Day followed the light of his liberation from the calm surroundings of the Palliative Care Room at the Manitoulin Health Centre in Little Current. He now lives in the hearts of those who loved him and bask in happy memories shared with this remarkable man. After seven years at the University of Glasgow, Barney, at age 23, an M.A. (English and French), M.B., Ch.B, behind his name, began his rewarding medical career. Two years later, in l950, at the invitation of the Anti-Tuberculosis League of Saskatchewan, he and his bride, the late Mary Milne Hamilton (Molly), also a physician, headed for the Prairies of Canada for a stint at the old TB hospital at Fort San in the verdant Qu’Appelle Valley, Sask. In early l951 the ATL transferred the couple to the sanatorium in Saskatoon. The following year Barney left the ATL for general practice and Molly worked at the Cancer Clinic of the Saskatoon City Hospital. In l954, he joined the Saskatoon Light Infantry as Medical Officer. Around that time, the partnership convinced him to do a year of radiology and pathology at the Saskatoon City Hospital. This was followed by a year at the Boston Children’s Hospital. The subspecialty of Pediatric Radiology was still in its infancy; he was hooked. Upon his return, the endless skies of the Prairies suddenly seemed confining. After a year in New England, Bernard and Molly yearned for four distinct seasons. The young family, now four with the addition of a son, John, and daughter, Louise, arrived in Toronto in l960 where we met at Sick Kids and I befriended him and his family. At that time, he preferred being a small fish in a big pond. The incongruity of that remark would not have been lost on him but he remained a humble guy who lacked any sense of self-importance. Seven years later, Barney became the Chief of the Department of Radiology at that venerable institution, which in 1896 was the first children’s hospital in North America to acquire x-ray equipment. At Sick Kids, he joined the ranks of those illustrious academics and researchers who helped enhance the reputation of the hospital on the international stage. A gifted linguist, he was in his milieu in the multicultural environment at the hospital. Because of the large Italian population in Toronto, he took up Italian which enabled him to communicate with his young patients and their families. Barney was widely published in the medical literature and traveled the world as Visiting Professor and lecturer. His wit, dedication and enthusiasm inspired the many residents and fellows from all over the world who attended his daily teaching rounds at HSC. He was one of the pioneers in Telemedicine; brought the first C.T. to Sick Kids. From l975 to l977 he was Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee (U.T.H.A. Committee). In l976 he was appointed Professor of Radiology at the University of Toronto. As one of the founders of the Society for Pediatric Radiology in Canada, he became President of the SPR in l978. Following his ten-year tenure as Radiologist-in-Chief he remained, until his retirement, head of the Division of General Radiology. In l981 he was appointed President of the Canadian Association of Radiologists. That year he also became a member of the American College of Radiology. From l981 to l985, he was President of the Canadian Radiological Foundation. He was much involved with the Hugh McMillan Centre (formerly the Ontario Crippled Children’s Centre) and in l986 became President of the Medical Staff. In l987 he became an Honorary Member of the Australasian Society for Paediatric Imaging. In l991, at the International meeting of the SPR and European Society for Pediatric Radiology, in Stockholm, Sweden, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Society for Pediatric Radiology. Tragedy struck when in 1983 his beloved Molly, a physician in the Out Patient Department of the Princess Margaret Hospital, succumbed to a massive heart attack. Having seen her children attain their goals, John graduating from law, Louise, from forestry, Molly was spared the tragedies to follow, Louise’s death of a brain tumour in l988 and the relentless march of Alzheimer’s for Barney. We had been married in l984. Shortly thereafter we heard the bad news that my own mother’s fate was sealed by cancer. I soon left my job as inner factotum and in l988 Barney retired from the Hospital for Sick Children. In his retirement, Barney pursued his love of golf, literature and music, interests we shared though my camaraderie on the golf course was confined to supplying him with an endless cache of found golf balls and chasing the wildlife with my camcorder. As a boy, he had been an award-winning violinist. In Saskatoon he played with the Saskatoon symphony. For some years after leaving Sick Kids, he played his violin and often sang with Jerry and the Atrics, a members’ musical group at the Granite Club in Toronto. Barney had a glorious voice, inherited from his father, a baritone who starred in amateur opera in Glasgow. Barney’s keen eye led his pencil to sketch many fine portraits and his phenomenal capacity to remember also served him well in his chosen profession, exploring the world of shadows in radiological imaging. He never forgot an interesting or unusual case. It is another irony that in the twilight of his years, he again lived in the shadows, the shadows of lost memory. No finer refuge could have been found than Manitoulin Island and its friendly inhabitants. We were privileged to walk in beauty and safety for over a decade. A big thank you to all those who sustained us with their kindness and compassion. Predeceased by his late wife Molly, daughter Louise, sister Agnes and brother Joe, Barney is mourned by his wife, Helga, his son John of Victoria, BC, sisters Maureen (Sr. Mary Christine OSM) of Bognor Regis, England, Teresa Crombie of Strathmiglo, Pearl McAllister (Tommy) of Glasgow and sister-in-law Terry Reilly (Joseph, predeceased) of Perth, Scotland. Special thanks to Drs. Kevin O’Connor, Dieter Poenn and Ken Barss and the caring staff at the two branches of the Manitoulin Health Centre and to the nurses at the Little Current Hospital who eased Barney out of his life: You made the unbearable bearable. A debt of gratitude is owed to so many who ‘nursed’ us through this long ordeal. Over the last years, nephew Paul Reilly, MD broke the sound barrier of an ocean as he became the Family Consultant in every sense of the words. Memorial donations may be made to the auxiliaries of either branch of the Manitoulin Health Centre (Mindemoya or Little Current) at the Admitting Offices of those hospitals.

 Helga Reilly, Mindemoya



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