Dr. Michael Ross Memorial Award in Surgery

This award provides financial support for students in honour of Dr. Ross who was a pioneering Head and Neck surgeon who saved the lives of many Island Health patients. Dr. Ross is honoured by his colleagues for his lifelong devotion to the care of his patients as a kind and respected physician but also as a scholar, as a leader in the community, as a devoted husband and father, and as a man of many interests and talents.

Michael Ross graduated from medical school at Liverpool University during the height of Beatlemania and he subsequently interned at the Vancouver General Hospital. Thereafter, he opened his General Practice in Victoria. After seven years, he pursued his passion for head and neck surgery and completed a fellowship in Otolaryngology in Seattle and returned to Victoria to practice for another 45 years.

For 60 years he served the people of Vancouver Island. His practice focused on highly demanding and complex care of patients with head and neck cancers. Following retirement from his own practice he continued to serve as a consultant at the Cancer Clinic and the Island Health Pain Clinic and teach at the Island Medical Program. His ENT lectures always took the students on a stroll through another time and place (like imagining the sounds of a monastery in Tibet) while providing  the necessary medical content of the lesson. He also generously embraced the Division of Vascular  Surgery and was a tireless, enthusiastic assistant. His presence in the operating room brought equanimity during tense moments and humor when the opportunity arose.

Michael’s renaissance style will be missed, however he will be remembered as a person who lived life well and took advantage of his time with us. He drew people in with his wit and his charm. Michael valued people and conversation and took interest in all who took the time to engage in a meeting of the minds. A true gentleman amongst gentlemen who respected and valued others. His  participation in any conversation guaranteed that it would be interesting and informative. In a room of well-mannered people, Michael stood tall! 

Michael embodies all the attributes one would hope for in a friend and colleague. He never failed to be thoughtful, kind and generous. Any request of his time was always answered with an affirmative “happily” or an enthusiastic “with pleasure”. He was a leader when called upon and served as Chief of Surgery at the Royal Jubilee Hospital for many years as well as President of the Victoria Medical Society.

He was never afraid to speak his mind and his passionate, articulate, and insightful contributions to  the British Columbia Medical Journal and the Times Colonist tell us all we need to know about Michael’s outlook towards his patients, his work and his colleagues. The titles of some of these articles “Expectations of Fairness” and “Disappointed in the BCMA” tempt you to read on with interest. Here is just one example from his Listerian Oration to the Victoria Medical Society “Physicians and Patients: Then and Now” published in the BCMJ in 2007: “Mingle with your colleagues for learning and enriching the standards of our collegiality. Support and share your knowledge and patient concerns with nurses, the most giving of professionals. Medicine is a spiritually rewarding vocation and the trust of your patient is paramount. Give it your all.”

He was a tireless promoter of the Victoria medical community, proudly listing off the accomplishments of the doctors and nurses serving Victoria and Vancouver Island. He also supported transformational changes to medical practice but in particular, he was a strong proponent for MAID.

His love for life is embodied by his love of all things fine including food, wine and the arts. Every spring, Michael would stomp grapes to create his own wine which was proudly served at dinner parties. With his wife, Mary Spilsbury, Ross having the colorful background of dancing professionally in Europe, Michael and Mary were generous supporters of Ballet Victoria. Michael enjoyed many sports over the years including gymnastics (his family lovingly teased him about a somersault routine he performed through a flaming hoop!), rugby, cycling, skiing and fly fishing and his yearly trip to Alberta for pheasant hunting. He enjoyed crabbing with his skiff off the shores of the massive stone breakwater he built. Most importantly, he enjoyed his time with his “buddies” on the golf course every Saturday morning. 

Dr. Michael Ross exemplified the best of our profession while being an outstanding example of a balanced human being.

Return to Index