Reunited After 70 Years

February 7, 2023

Eighty years ago, Bill Kennedy and Dr. Earl Wynands were students at Loyola High School.  When they met up nearly 70 years later in Ottawa, that connection fostered a friendship that is a testament to both the enduring strength of the Loyola community and - though they would likely demur - the character of two exceptional men.

Their “Loyola” roots go back to St. Ignatius Loyola elementary school on Terrebonne Avenue in 1930s Montreal. From there each moved on to four years at Loyola High School, followed by Loyola College (now Concordia University). 

Bill studied at Loyola High from 1939-1943 and then entered Loyola College’s first pre-engineering class. After graduating from Loyola College in 1947 he completed electrical engineering studies at McGill and, as a newly minted “P. Eng.,” joined Northern Electric (later Northern Telecom/Nortel). Bill’s 35-year career there coincided with the evolution of Northern Electric’s business and technology from electromechanical crossbar switching to digital switching equipment that set new standards for the telecommunications industry. After retirement he dabbled in astronomy and physics courses at the University of Toronto and was active in his community in Mississauga.His lunches with another Class of ’43 transplant to the Greater Toronto Area grew into a regular and longstanding gathering of retired Loyola alums (and later a few non-Loyola ex-Montrealers) affectionately dubbed the “OFL”.

Bill Kennedy

Earl attended Loyola High School from 1942 to 1946, and joined Loyola College’s Arts program, earning an all-activity letter at both institutions. He graduated from Loyola College in 1950 and gave serious consideration to a career as a professional golfer but, fortunately for generations of cardiac patients, settled instead on medicine - specifically cardiac anesthesiology. He completed his medical degree at McGill University in 1954 and certified in anesthesia in 1959. Earl went on to pioneer anesthesia in cardiac surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, and authored the seminal publication in the field, “Coronary artery disease and anaesthesia.”

Earl is a professor emeritus in the Department of Anaesthesia at the University of Ottawa, former Chair of Anaesthesia at the University of Ottawa, and former Chief of Anaesthesia at the Civic Hospital and at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. He founded the country’s first professional assistance program for physicians with disabilities and established the University of Ottawa Skills and Simulation Centre in 1996, one of the first in Canada. Although he retired from the operating room, Earl continued to serve as the Centre's Medical Director until 2008.

In addition to his clinical and research responsibilities, Earl found time to serve a year as President of the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society (CAS), two years as president of the US Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists (SCA), and 10 years as associate editor of the Journal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia.

Earl’s pioneering medical contributions were recognized with his 1998 induction to the Order of Canada. He has also received a CAS Gold Medal, the first SCA Distinguished Service Award, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Montreal.  Most recently, he was honoured with the establishment of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s Dr. J. Earl Wynands Associate Chair in Cardiac Anesthesiology Research. All these accomplishments were achieved as Earl experienced decreasing visual acuity from macular degeneration.

Earl Wynands

Serendipity (and family) brought Bill from Mississauga to the Rockcliffe Retirement Residence in 2013, and Earl arrived the following year. Their reconnection has been a boon to both.  True to their natures, both men remain engaged and engaging.  On warm summer days you may find them in the Rockcliffe’s garden listening to Bill’s favourite jazz music on Earl’s iPhone; they will be seated on a bench installed by Earl and his six children in memory of Earl’s beloved wife Mary. Earl’s four sons attended Loyola High. He also has 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Earl remains actively involved with colleagues at the Heart Institute and beyond, and in writing his memoirs. Bill is one of the Rockcliffe trivia champs. Looking back on his 97 years, he credits his 49-year marriage to wife Dorothy as central to his many good fortunes. Looking forward, he is watching with delight as his 18- and 21-year old grand sons follow in his engineering footsteps. He is planning to attend their iron ring ceremonies in 2024 and 2026.

The article was prepared by Marianne Kennedy Beaulne (Bill’s daughter) and Dr. Michael Ircha (friend of Earl).

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