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Those who died, June 15, 2006

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Roy Alexander Lawrie, 61: Public servant, died June 15, 2006, of colon cancer in Lindsay, Ont., early morning.

The night before he died, coping alone with the side effects of chemotherapy, Roy Lawrie did his laundry. He didn't want to leave a mess. He never liked people fussing over him.

Born in Glasgow in 1944, he remained a proud Scot — independent, opinionated, a bit fierce, fond of his pints.

He did not want treatments that would interrupt his golf game, which he played year-round between Canada and Scotland.

He certainly did not want painkillers muddling his brain, with which he had accomplished a respected public-service career after emigrating to Canada in 1971. He started as an auditor for Revenue Canada, and eventually, in 1987, became the assistant deputy minister of the tax revenue and grants programs for Ontario, a position he held until his retirement in July, 2000.

He kept his colon cancer a secret for a long while. Even when his operation was scheduled and his only child, Samantha, had flown over from London, he made her promise not to tell his parents in Scotland. He and Samantha's mother had divorced years earlier. He was used to living alone.

When the cancer went to his liver in May, he accepted that he would die, but he did not want to lose himself in it. “He didn't want to go gently,” Samantha says. “He didn't want it to turn him into an invalid.”

Samantha and her husband, Chris, had seen Roy home from the hospital, but she flew back to London for a prenatal test, at his insistence: He was so happy, she says, at the prospect of a grandchild. As it turned out, he missed his granddaughter's birth by four months: Madeleine Alexandra Eddis was born on Oct. 27.

On the telephone the night before he died, he told Samantha he loved her. She later learned that he had driven to his golf club only two days earlier for a drink with a friend. The chemo was making him sick, but he didn't want help — no one, as his daughter puts it, to “hang around, annoying him.”

Eventually he said to Samantha on the phone that if it was okay, he wanted to go to sleep. A friend found him the next morning: He had died in his bed overnight.

NEXT: William J. Field

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