As funeral services for long-time Emo doctor John O’Sullivan were held yesterday at the Legion Hall there, many residents and co-workers shared their thoughts on the loss of a pillar of their community.
“I can remember when he first came here,” said former Emo reeve Brian Reid, who was still a boy when Dr. O’Sullivan arrived there in 1964.
“I don’t know of any more important member of this community,” he added. “He’ll be deeply missed by everyone—as a friend and a doctor—not only because of the importance of his job but his reputation as a doctor.
“It’s a big loss.”
Dr. O’Sullivan passed away suddenly last week while on vacation in Prince Edward Island.
Norma Elliott, medical services director for the Emo hospital, noted she’d known Dr. O’Sullivan since 1974, and looking back, she said it seems as if he’s always there for the people of Emo.
“He has devoted his life to the community. A great man,” she remarked.
“He was very prominent,” echoed Carolee Strachan, secretary at the Emo clinic. “We don’t know how we’re going to replace him. He was the clinic and hospital in Emo for many years.”
Back in 1964, Dr. O’Sullivan was the sole doctor in the community, being on-call for the thousands of residents of Emo and the surrounding area. The health centre then was a Red Cross outreach hospital.
In more recent years, he’s been joined by Drs. Philip Whatley and Ingrid Krampetz.
“The fact he was here for so long was the best advertisement to get me to come here and stay,” said Dr. Krampetz, who stressed in times when doctors rarely stay in small communities for long, Dr. O’Sullivan was the exception to the rule.
“He did everything he could to help out fellow doctors,” she added. “With the current contract we’re in, he was able to convey a better idea of what it’s like to be on the job, and responsible for it, all the time.”
Dr Krampetz also said Dr. O’Sullivan was one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated doctors she’s met.
“He was so well-read. If you had to know any obscure medical fact, he was an encyclopedia,” she noted.
“And no matter what, he would work. When he broke his hip around Christmas two years ago, he would come to work in his wheelchair,” Dr. Krampetz recalled.
Wayne Woods, CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc., noted Emo will get another doctor sometime in the near future. “Emo is delegated for three physicians so a position will be open somewhere down the line,” he said.
Dr. O’Sullivan was born in Cwm, Wales in 1932, and studied medicine at Harrow, Cambridge, and Westminster Medical School in England. He then spent three years practising in Uganda before emigrating to Canada from Ireland.
He is survived by his wife, Gerd; sons, James, Timothy, and Mark; daughters, Deirdre and Anne; and several grandchildren.