David James Lewis
MD, FRCP(C), MRC(Psych),
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry
May 28, 1920 – January 1, 2013
David James Lewis, an intrepid psychiatrist, artist and intellectual died Jan 1, 2013 in his 93rd year in the Greenwoods Extended Care Facility, where he was cared for compassionately. His family was present as he passed peacefully onto his next adventure.
David was born in Montreal in 1920, the eldest of three children to Dr. David Sclater Lewis and Evelyn Ross Lewis. David studied liberal arts at McGill University while pursuing his love of photography by working as a reporter for his Uncle PD Ross of the Ottawa Journal during his summer breaks. Soon after graduating in 1941 he joined the Royal Canadian Navy and served as an officer with Combined Operations surviving beach landing invasions both in Normandy and Sicily. Many years later he and his naval colleagues compiled a two-volume photo-essay of their war years, ‘From St Nazaire to Singapore’, (ourroots.ca). The collection of WW2 photographs he took with his precious Zeiss camera proved invaluable. As LCDR he returned with fellow Canadians to Normandy and the Combined Operations at the1997 reunion of the Dieppe raid of 1942.
After the war he studied pre-medicine at McGill and met his future wife, Kit (nee Catherine Jefferson). Kit was his close companion, his intellectual and emotional confidant and they had a kind of relationship that was rare for that era.
After earning his medical degree at the University of Toronto in 1950, he interned in psychiatry at Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto, the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, the Maudsley Hospital and Bethlem Royal in England. He then returned to Toronto to practice at St Michaels Hospital and teach at the University of Toronto. In 1964 his career took him back to McGill University and the Royal Victoria Hospital. In 1971 political turmoil in Quebec compelled him to move his family and career to Calgary, where he taught and practiced at the University of Calgary and the Foothills Hospital. By this time he had earned the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, Canada, and membership of the Medical Research Council in Psychiatry. David was curious about all sorts of ideas and how they related to the spiritual and psychological landscape. Throughout his formative years he was inspired by his meetings with Carl Jung, JBS Haldane, Naomi Mitcheson, R.D.Laing and others. David was an early adopter of new methods in psychotherapy and took part in research into the therapeutic uses of hallucinogenic drugs. His creative and progressive approach was reflected in various undertakings including the establishment of the Mood Clinic at the Foothills Hospital.
David always had a sketchbook with him and recorded his impressions of the world and people around him with startling insight. He had an eye for art and built a significant collection of paintings, Inuit carvings and books, many of which have been donated to the University of Calgary. In spite of his loss of hearing, music delighted him to the end of his life.
David is survived by his wife of 63 years, Kit, children David (New Mexico), Anne (David Leininger, Montana), Peter, Jane (Squier) and Naomi (British Columbia), and his brother John Lewis, (Toronto, Ontario). He was preceded in death by his sister Marjorie (Brunton).
David has been blessed by and was always an inspirational leader to his grandchildren, David, Sky, Morgan, Patrick, Lily, Cole, Abigail, Anna, Julia, Kipling, Theo, Stefan, Odin and great-grandchildren, David Jed and Grace Valentina.
David’s final years were spent on Salt Spring Island where sadly his mental faculties diminished due to Alzheimer’s disease. He lived at the Greenwoods Extended Care facility for four years where he was much loved and cared for by the staff and was visited daily by his wife and family.
To commemorate the life of a remarkable person and in gratitude to the caring community of Salt Spring Island, a celebration of David’s life will take place from 2 – 4 pm on Sunday, January 13th at Meadowbrook Seniors Residence, 121 Atkins Rd.
The private family memorial will take place May 28th, 2013, at Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal.
Memorial donations may be made to Greenwoods Foundation Charitable Organization (#107457731RR0001) 133 Blain Road, Salt Spring Island, V8K 1Z9