McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Dr. Dan Dwyer was 'larger than life'

Published: November 17, 2015
Dan Dwyer
Dr. Dan Dwyer

A Hamilton physician known for building bridges between the community of local physicians and McMaster's newly created medical school has died.

A funeral mass in Latin was held Saturday, Nov. 14 for Dr. Dan Dwyer, 81, a professor emeritus of medicine of McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

Dr. Steve Collins, now associate dean, research for the Faculty of Health Sciences, was an internal medicine resident under Dwyer.

"Dan Dwyer was an icon.  Both as a physician and as a personality, he was larger than life. He was an extraordinarily good physician who took a holistic approach to the management of his patients," he said.

"His humour and wit, his informed pragmatic approach to medicine, his engagement of staff and students at all levels, and his love of life made him an absolute delight to work with. Sadly, we will not see the likes of him again."

Dr. Paul O'Byrne, chair of medicine and also a former resident for Dwyer, added: "Dan Dwyer was a consummate physician, a medical leader, and an outstanding mentor to many of the clinicians and clinician scientists who have made McMaster's Faculty of Health Sciences the success that it is."

Dwyer began at the medical school as a part time clinical professor in 1970, becoming full time in 1978. He retired in 2000. He also held several leadership positions within the city's hospitals, including deputy chief of medicine at Henderson General Hospital.

His obituary, which ran in The Hamilton Spectator, reflected the man, said John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences. "It is simply marvellous."

Dr. Dan Dwyer obituary

"DWYER, Daniel Edmund July 5, 1934 - November 5, 2015

"In my life, I've been so lucky, I can't believe it." July 15, 2015

"Daniel Edmund Dwyer had a long and terrific life. In his final years his health was a problem, but it was extended and enhanced and improved by the administrations of the entire Hamilton medical community; literally everyone pitched in. Most people think that their doctor is the best, but the doctors who looked after Dan win the contest hands down. There were very few ailments and injuries that avoided Dan, but his medical friends were so attentive, and so concerned, that Dan said he thought parts of him had been outsourced to India. Dan is the son of Marion Sullivan of Hamilton and Edmund Dwyer of Kingston. He grew up in Hamilton at a time when kids safely travelled by roller skate, bicycle and bus, all by themselves, and no one worried. His career as a Professor of Medicine at McMaster University brought him the greatest joy. As an examiner for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, he travelled the country and met the finest medical minds. Dan was a part of building Hamilton's world renowned medical community as we know it today, and gave each and every one of his patients the fullest attention. He loved receiving their myriad gifts of homemade wine, figs and jam among other things. Dan is survived by his wife Ruth, with whom he made many snow angels in the winter snow banks. The last one was made the year he turned 80, so that's a lot of snow angels. His son Michael appeared the year he turned 50, after a happy trip to Tuscany nine months earlier. His sister-in-law Sandy is responsible for his life-long love of scalloped potatoes; her recipe could bring grown men to their knees. Her children, John and Marc, spent happy summers hanging out with Michael and teaching him the art of pizza appreciation. Dan's accomplished cousin, Dan Sullivan, a better golfer than his cousin and thus a source of some annoyance, could not have been a better or more supportive friend and relative. "Sully" has called Dan his brother, and Dan would agree, particularly in their shared love of Max's chocolate chip cookies, the local hangout's chicken fried rice, and their mutual eternal hopefulness for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The weekends with them in Muskoka made the Dwyers realize that the Canadian north is a treasure beyond measure, and the family thanks the Sullivans profusely. He was happy that Canada has elected a government that will work toward saving the climate and will do so energetically, and will rescue the CBC. His final days were spent at St. Peter's Long Term Care (Chedoke) where everyone rooted for the Blue Jays. At game time, Dan's room was filled to the brim with wheelchairs and walkers and everyone cheering. Bill, down the hall, brought his horn, Fran, across the hall, brought chocolate cupcakes; chips and popcorn and hot dogs appeared, the nurses and PSWs would pop in to check on the score, everyone blew kisses at the team, and the only way to get from one side of the room to the other was to climb over Dan's bed, even though Dan was still in it. Management never complained. Father Ian Duffy will celebrate the mass in Latin on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. at St. Ann's Church, Ancaster."

The Hamilton Spectator

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