Lorne Burritt Collins, age 101, passed away on September 27, 2019 in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Lorne was born in Strathclair, Manitoba on January 21, 1918, the son of a country doctor. Lorne had a happy childhood, with daily horse riding (to school and for pleasure), working on farms, and many travel adventures in the family’s Model T with his parents, brother and sisters.
Lorne left home at age 16 to go to Wesley College in Winnipeg, graduating from the University of Manitoba in 1941 as a Medical Doctor. He paid his way through medical school by working in an axe gang for a logging company, and for one summer as a medical officer for the Department of Indian Affairs, travelling by canoe to Indian settlements in northern Manitoba along with a Mountie, to make treaty payments and provide basic medical service.
After completing his medical internship and an additional residency in surgery, Lorne joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1942 and was posted first to Winnipeg then to Camp Shilo before going overseas in 1944. Lorne was stationed in England, and then in Utrecht, Holland and eventually the Ruhr valley in Germany, performing surgery in field dressing stations and base hospitals for the Royal Canadian Army. He returned to Canada in 1946.
Lorne met Rhonda, the love of his life, while they were together in medical school. They married before Lorne went overseas and, after Lorne’s return from the war, they moved to Pincher Creek, Alberta in 1946, where Lorne started a general medical and surgical practice. The practice grew substantially over the years, as Lorne quickly developed a regional reputation as a surgeon. In 1949, the local hospital built a 50-bed addition to deal with the growth. Several doctors joined Lorne’s practice over the years, and Rhonda joined him in practice once their youngest child had entered primary school.
Lorne was instrumental in starting a rural country practice rotation for medical students, in conjunction with the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. From 1974 to 1978 Lorne was also a part-time assistant professor in surgery at the University of Calgary, and was appointed to the Hospital Privileges Appeal Board for Alberta. Lorne was also active in the Alberta Medical Association, which awarded him with a Senior Life Membership for his contributions to the medical profession in Alberta as did the Canadian Medical Association. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta also recognized his contributions, with a Certificate for Meritorious Service, and an Honourary Life Membership.
Lorne was also a medical officer for Indian health services for the Peigan Indian Band, from 1947 until Medicare became available to the Band.
Lorne practiced medicine until age 61, when he and Rhonda both retired. Lorne joined with a good friend and worked as a realtor for several years. The early retirement years were full of frequent foreign travel, and motorhome trips to Alaska, across Canada and to various parts of the United States. Lorne and Rhonda eventually purchased a unit in a retirement park in Mesa, Arizona and spent many happy winters there, hiking, golfing and socializing with their many friends.
Lorne had a busy family life, encouraging his children in their academic and musical studies, and sharing with them his great love for the outdoors. Lorne spent much of his free time in outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, golfing, gardening and – every summer for many years – a week-long horse pack trip into the mountains. Lorne fished for salmon off Vancouver Island, hiked the Chilcoot Trail, rafted down the Yukon River, and took a mule ride into the Grand Canyon. Lorne and Rhonda had a very social life – golf league, curling, the Pincher Creek Community Band (where they both played clarinet), frequent dinner parties and community events.
Lorne was also active in community affairs: serving a term on the Town Council; serving on the Board of the Pincher Creek Co-op; and active in the Royal Canadian Legion, the United Church and various local organizations.
Lorne is survived by his wife of 76 years, Rhonda Maynard (Boughton) Collins; his four children, Shelagh (George Torbiak) Stefan, Ruth (Someshwar) Collins-Nakai, Elinor (Paul) Hobbs and Peter (Elizabeth) Collins; his seven grandchildren, Sean, Natasha, Rachel, Joshua, Sunil, Erin and Monica; his two great grand-children, Wesley and Sam; and many nieces and nephews.
Lorne was an elegant gentleman who led a rich life for many years. He was a loving husband and a much-loved wonderful father, who will be greatly missed by his family.
There will be no public memorial service for Lorne; the family will have a private remembrance for him, when his ashes are interred at the Pincher Creek Cemetery. The family thanks the staff at Adaptacare Personal Care Homes - Cedar Creek for their care of Lorne. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, whose audiobooks brought Lorne much pleasure in his last years as his eyesight failed.
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