Spring 2021 (Volume 31, Number 1)
Tribute to Dr. Robert "Bob" McKendry
By Gunnar Kraag, MD, FRCPC
Dr. Bob McKendry passed away on December
26, 2020. He was the driving
force in establishing academic rheumatology
at the University of Ottawa and
also helped establish the Northern Ontario
School of Medicine in his role as
Assistant Dean of Postgraduate Education
in the Faculty of Medicine.
Bob graduated from Queen’s University
in 1968. He received his Internal Medicine
training in Toronto and was the
Chief Medical Resident at the Wellesley
Hospital. He did his rheumatology training
at the Scripps Clinic and Research
Foundation in La Jolla, California.
He returned to Ottawa in 1974 and
quickly became the Director of the University
of Ottawa Rheumatic Disease Unit.
He was successful in dramatically raising the profile of rheumatology
in Ottawa and started a Royal College Training
Program in rheumatology. He was able to attract excellent
Fellows, many of whom subsequently joined the Division.
Bob exemplified the excellence of an academic as a clinician,
educator and researcher. As a clinician he was an
excellent diagnostician and developed superb rapport with
his patients, earning their gratitude and respect.
Bob was a superb teacher and mentor to undergraduate
and postgraduate trainees.
As a researcher, he authored some 60 peer-reviewed
papers. In 2002, he created a private research clinic. He
became CEO of Rheumatology Research Associates, where
he was the principal investigator for more than 50 industry-sponsored clinical trials.
His many professional accomplishments include his
role as Chairman of the Division of Rheumatology at the
University of Ottawa, Deputy Chairman and Acting Chairman
of the Department of Medicine, Assistant Dean Postgraduate
Education, as well as serving on numerous professional
associations and international committees.
He was the recipient of many awards throughout his
career and was particularly proud of receiving the Commonwealth
Medal for the 125th anniversary of the Confederation
of Canada, awarded by the Governor General in December
of 1992 – “in recognition of significant contribution
to compatriots, community and to Canada.” He also received
an Award of Excellence from the Department of Medicine at
the University of Ottawa. He received several awards recognizing
his volunteer service to programs of
the Arthritis Society in Ontario.
There was much more to Bob than
his academic and professional activities.
He had a wide array of interests that included
running, gardening, skiing and
extensive travelling. Flowers were a particular
passion, and he added a greenhouse
at the back of his house so he
could enjoy gardening all year round.
His favourite pastime was undoubtedly
puttering at his cottage on Calumet
Island. Building may be more accurate
than puttering. The cottage was a true
Bob loved good company, and his wit
and wry sense of humour were legendary.
We were all privileged to know him.
Gunnar Kraag MD, FRCPC
Professor of Medicine (retired), University of Ottawa