Jackson, Robert, MD, FRCP died on Sunday morning, March 24th 2019. He will be mourned by his daughters, Elizabeth and Anne, and grandchildren, Leigh, Lindsay, Molly, Kate, Heather and Mark, and cherished friend, Diana. Robert was predeceased by his beloved wife Noreen (Noni) (nee Emory), and son Stephen.
Dr. Jackson was a singular man. Everything he did, he approached as an explorer, a sleuth, a student. HIs curiosity just had no off switch. He was also a tireless worker. He was the driving force in establishing the post-graduate dermatology program in Ottawa, and was still interviewing medical students interested in specializing in dermatology until his death.
Robert reached the pinnacle of his profession, having authored over 100 peer reviewed papers most notably on skin cancers, and a definitive medical textbook, Morphological Diagnosis of Skin Disease. To include them all, his CV runs 62 pages. He began his practice in Ottawa in 1958 and served his patients for over 50 years. He has been awarded many honours over his career, his most cherished was Canadian Dermatology Association Award of Merit. He served as President of Canadian Dermatology Association and Vice President of the American Dermatological Association.
Dr. Jackson credited his wife Noni and her fine arts education with teaching him visual literacy and appreciation for the arts. "Seeing" became a major theme in his teaching, helping aspiring dermatologists to read the visual clues on the skin to arrive at difficult diagnoses. HIs academic output was prodigious, but he was always applying his knowledge in interesting ways, and with underserved populations. He was honoured by the Nunavut government in 2008 for running clinics and training in Iqaluit for over 10 years. He provided care to the Smiths Falls Rideau Regional Institute for 22 years, and was a board member of the Canadian Medical Protective Association for 23. He fought tirelessly for resources to train more Canadian dermatologists.
Outside of work, Robert loved the outdoors. While other doctors were out on the links, or skiing, Robert would go to one of three woodlots he owned. Once he had improved the quality of the forest, he donated the land to local conservation authorities, a single example of so many charitable donations, there is no room to list them.
Following a canoe trip down the famous Nahanni River, he fell in love with the north. For the last 25 years he has been taking friends and family on incredible wilderness adventures on Canada's northern rivers. He also introduced many medical residents to Nunavut when he brought them north to do clinics with him.
Being as driven as he was, Robert had his eccentricities. Jolted awake at night, he would scrawl urgent thoughts, "jackson-o-grams", in bright green ink, that would have to be translated and forwarded by his wife Noni: a topic for the next paper or conference; a thought about a puzzling condition; how many white pine seedlings he needs for his new woodlot. His green ink missives were legendary at the Ottawa Hospital, where he served on several committees.
Robert also loved medical history. He did academic studies on Chinese Foot Binding Syndrome,
medicine related to the American Civil War and Hong Kong Canadian Prisoners of War. He was also a
member of the Sir James Saunders Society, an annual meeting of dermatologists who are fanatics about the canon of Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle.
During his prime working years, most of the family obligations fell to Noni, but in his later years he really engaged with his kids and grandchildren, taking them on his northern trips and educational get togethers (and there was always homework).
Born in 1926 in Winnipeg, his childhood was a fairly typical depression era upbringing, spent outdoors playing around the Assiniboine river. In fact, before medical school, he was enrolled in Zoology at McGill University, working for the Fisheries Research Board. He almost became an ichthyologist! Dr. Jackson made huge contributions in so many ways. He will be missed.
Friends are invited to visit the West Chapel of Hulse Playfair & McGarry, 150 Woodroffe Ave. (at Richmond Road) on Wednesday, March 27, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, and Thursday, March 28, 10:00 to 11:00. The funeral service will be held in the chapel on Thursday, March 28, at 11:00 am.
Donations may be made to Camp Liberté, which offers children with skin conditions the opportunity to experience the magic of summer camp. Mail a cheque to: Camp Liberté, 1385 Bank Street, Suite 425, Ottawa, ON K1H 8N4, or go online to: https://campliberte.ca/giving/donate/