For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
WOODS, Desmond Gerard (Des) - MD, CM, FRCP(C) - 85, passed away January 8, 2009, in Halifax. Born in Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland, he was the son of the late Francis and Bridget (Coffey) Woods. Des attended secondary school at St. Enda's College, Galway and later received his medical degree from National University of Ireland, Galway. Upon completion of his Medical Internship in 1948 at Central Hospital, Galway Des was recruited by the Newfoundland hospital system. With a one year contract for $60 per month plus keep, he set off for St John's, Newfoundland with the world at his feet. He plied his trade at St. John's Hospital and later St. Mary's Bay, travelling to various out ports where frequently he was given freshly caught fish in appreciation for his service. It has been said those fish often remained in the trunk of his prized 1948 Chevy well past their "best before" date. When Newfoundland elected to join Canada in 1949, Des was granted landed immigrant status and promptly enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as a Surgeon-Lieutenant. He loaded his Chevy on the train, then ferry and headed for Halifax where upon his arrival he learned he'd been posted to Esquimalt, B.C. With the Trans-Canada highway still but a dream in 1949, Des believed he may have been one of the first people to drive coast to coast across Canada, arriving in Victoria nine days after his departure from Halifax. During his first posting to Esquimalt (1949-1955) Des served a year aboard HMCS Nootka in Korea and after his return was promoted to Lieutenant Commander Surgeon in 1954. He began his residency in Radiology in 1955 at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and received his Certification in Diagnostic Radiology in 1961. Des was granted his Canadian citizenship in 1956 and spent 25 years proudly serving his adopted country. He accepted postings in Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton and Victoria before finally settling in Halifax in 1967 and retiring from his position as Surgeon Commander, Chief of Radiology, Canadian Forces Hospital, Halifax, in 1974. Des was never content to remain intellectually idle, often reading four or five books per week and attacking every crossword puzzle at his disposal. He always maintained a variety of "moonlighting" activities from assisting in the study of the effects of deep sea diving at the Deep Sea Diving School, Washington, D.C.; and providing radiology services to various Annapolis Valley hospitals (CFB Greenwood, Berwick, Soldiers Memorial in Middleton, Annapolis General and Digby General); to educating as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax. Upon his retirement from the RCN in 1974, Des accepted the position of Chief of Radiology for the Digby General and Annapolis General Hospitals where he remained until his retirement from all medical practice in 1987. Des travelled throughout Canada and many parts of the world but he cherished most his trips to Ireland and England to visit his immediate family and their offspring. Des is survived by his wife of 55 years, Hilma (Worthylake) and their daughter, Sheilagh (Darvill) Hamshaw, Halifax; sons, Brian (Diane) and grandsons, Taylor and Alexandre, Halifax; Drs. Eric (Terry) and grandson, Trevor and granddaughter, Nicki, Yarmouth; and Kevin (Margaret) and step-granddaughter, Bailey, Halifax. Des is also survived by his brother, James, Dublin, Ireland and family and nieces and nephews from his late brothers, Frank and Patrick and his late sister, Peggy (Mrs. Matt Corcoran). His family wishes to express their sincere gratitude to Drs. Wayne Sullivan, Joseph Nassar and Helmut Hollenhurst, the VON and other staff at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. Cremation has taken place and a memorial mass celebrated by Father Bernard O'Neill will be held on Wednesday, January 14, 2009, at 10 a.m. in St. Benedict Parish (Our Lady of Perpetual Help), Bedford Highway. Des' ashes will be placed in the Nova Scotia Veterans Columbarium, Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, for eternity. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Des' name to the Palliative Care Unit, c/o QEII, VG Site, 7A Centennial Bldg. or St. Benedict Parish, Halifax.
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