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Saturday February 9, 2013

Dr. Bernard Joseph Reilly
June 20, 1926 - January 25, 2013

Dr. Bernard Joseph Reilly , M.A., M.B., Ch.B., F.R.C.P. (C), Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto). Former Radiologist-in-Chief, The Hospital for Sick Children.

After many days in darkness, Bernard Reilly (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, Ontario. He now lives in the hearts of those who loved him and bask in happy memories shared with this remarkable man.

Barney was born in Scotland of Scottish and Irish ancestors. The latter had in 1853 immigrated to Scotland because, to quote Barney, "they had developed the habit of eating, which they wished to maintain". He started his intrauterine life in New York City, where his father had prospered and Barney liked to say he felt like a spawning salmon when later, in his professional life, he so often found himself in that city. Born in Glasgow to Mary (Boyle) and Bernard Reilly, he is predeceased by his late wife Molly, daughter Louise, sister Agnes and brother Joe. Barney is mourned by his wife, Helga of Mindemoya, ON, his son John of Victoria, BC, sisters Maureen (Sr.Mary Christine OSM) of Bognor Regis, England, Teresa Crombie of Strathmiglo, Pearl McAllister (Thomas) of Glasgow and Sister-in-law, Terry Reilly (Joseph, predeceased) of Perth, Scotland and many talented nieces and nephews.

After seven years at the University of Glasgow, the young Doctor Reilly, at age 23, 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. During the crossing of the Atlantic, in the Fall of l950, he became ill. He said he could feel the pleural rub through his shirt. They were traveling first class on the Empress of Scotland. Instead of enjoying meals they hadn't seen since before the war, he ordered bowls of hot oatmeal porridge, for poultices which Molly, who was seasick, applied to his chest.

Eastern Canada was decked out in its most welcoming fall finery during train trip west. When Barney and Molly arrived at Fort San, he, looking wan, mentioned that he was feeling a bit under the weather and might need a chest x-ray. He spent the next weeks stuck in bed. While the pneumonia resolved, he was eager to explore his surroundings. The first thing that impressed him was that a hearse was constantly pulling up at the hospital gate and he wondered what the mortality rate was at that institution. He also noticed the name on the hearse: Stiff's Funeral Home. He made some enquiries and found out that Stiff's also provided a taxi as well as shuttle service to the local pub. When Molly wouldn't provide the clean shirt he requested, he tucked his pyjama top into his trousers, borrowed a tie and hitched a ride on the hearse for a beer with the boys. There was a lot of coughing going on. "It's not the cough that carries you off; it's the coffin, they carry you off in", he assured them.

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 Boston Children's Hospital. There he met Roentgenologist, E.B.D.Neuhauser, a brilliant teacher, one of the pioneers of the subspecialty of Pediatric Radiology, which was still in its infancy. He was hooked. He wouldn't have minded staying in Boston. Standing at the foot of the statue of John Boyle O'Reilly, he felt right at home.

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, Barney 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 man who lacked any sense of self-importance. Seven years later, he 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. He 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 in Canada; brought the first C.T. to Sick Kids. From 1975 to 1977 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 1978. Following his ten year tenure as Radiologist-in-Chief, he remained, until his retirement, head of the Division of General Radiology. In 1981 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 1986 became President of the Medical Staff. In l987 he became an Honorary Member of the Australasian Society for Paediatric Imaging. In 1991, 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. Proud to have 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 1988 and the relentless march of Alzheimer's for Barney. We had been married in 1984. Shortly thereafter we heard the bad news that my own mother's fate was sealed by the diagnosis of cancer. I soon left my job as his inner factotum and in 1988 Barney retired from the Hospital for Sick Children.

In Saskatoon, Barney had played for the University badminton team, once winning an Open Badminton championship. At Sick Kids, he was skip of a curling team. Too often, his Thursday afternoons, reserved for golf, had been rained out but in his retirement, Barney pursued his favourite sport with a passion, as well as literature and music, interests we shared. On the golf course, my contribution to camaraderie was confined to supplying him with an endless cache of found golf balls and chasing the wild life with my camcorder.

As a boy, Barney 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 tenor voice, inherited from his father, a baritone who starred in amateur opera in Glasgow. Barney got more than his share of musical genes from both sides of the family. His maternal grandfather Tom Boyle in the early years of the Twentieth Century conducted for the St. Cecilia Choral Society in Glasgow. From 1897 to 1938 he was choirmaster at St. Saviour's Church in Govan where from 1897 to 1915, his wife, Mary, was first organist. Grandpa Boyle taught piano and voice, and staged and acted in light opera and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

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 haven could have been found than Manitoulin Island and its friendly inhabitants. We were privileged to walk in beauty and safety for over a decade. Memorial donations may be made to the Hospital for Sick Children Foundation (1-800-661-1083 Ext. 8271).

Helga Reilly,
Mindemoya

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