John is a retired federal public servant living in Ottawa.
He is the proud father of three and the happy grandfather of five.
After graduating as a mechanical engineer in 1954, he
spent 15 years as an aircrew navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force
and 20 years as a civilian defence scientist in the Department of National
In 1980 John's wife Audrey developed breast cancer, which
was treated surgically, with initial success. But after eight years as
a cancer survivor she learned that the disease had metastasized to her
liver. For the next four years she underwent chemotherapy, in an inspirational
and courageous battle against her illness. At this time John became involved
with the Ottawa
chapter of Dying With Dignity (DWD) to become better able to help Audrey
cope. In the end she did not want or require any special form of assistance;
she died in hospital during surgery.
At the first DWD Ottawa meeting he attended, John was
greatly impressed by Stella McMurran, who together with her husband led
the group. Although old in years and frail in body, Stella had the judgment,
intellect and courage of a born leader, one of the most compelling that
John had ever met. She was a strong and effective campaigner for the rights
of dying people and her style drew respect from everyone she met, including
those who were not supporters of her cause.
Soon after joining DWD Ottawa, John became its Secretary/Treasurer
and was very active in supporting its promotional work. At that time, living
wills were not recognized in Ontario and DWD Ottawa undertook a wide range
of local public-awareness activities, such as running information booths
at seniors' gatherings, speaking at community centres and service clubs,
and participating in media panels or discussion shows. When the Ontario
government began considering living-will legislation, DWD Ottawa submitted
documents to help guide and support the process; legal recognition of living
wills was achieved in December of 1992.
In 1992, DWD Ottawa became Choice in Dying Ottawa (CIDO)
in order to concentrate more directly on changing our laws to fully respect
self-determination in medical treatment and in dying. The group appeared
before the Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in 1994
and developed several position papers that were submitted to the federal
Minister of Justice.
Although he has not been actively involved in CIDO for
the last few years, John still continues to support the cause of voluntary
euthanasia and assisted suicide, as an individual, whenever he can.