Dr. Jack William Popowich left this world on July 8, 2016, grateful for 80 years of doing the things he loved – being a husband and father, helping children and families, teaching and mentoring medical students, and experiencing nature.
Jack was born to be a physician, a passion he pursued with determination from his earliest years in Depression-era Red Deer, where he grew up in a first-generation immigrant family with siblings, Irene, Sandy and his late sister, Laurene. It was a passion he shared with wife, Vicky, a nurse, over their 54 years of marriage and the foundation of the active and full life they shared with sons, Michael and Jon.
Blending skill, humour, integrity and unwavering practicality, Jack enriched the lives of so many in his 40+ years as a physician at the Misericordia Community Hospital. To many, especially the care teams he encouraged and mentored, he was known simply as “Poppy”. Approachable, smart, down-to-earth, intrepid and pragmatic.
The many generations of children Jack cared for over the decades as a respected and well-loved pediatrician remember his sense of humour and calming approach. He also understood that the small patients he cared for came with bigger people, who also needed support and care. With parents, Jack was an avid listener and practical problem-solver, approaching each family as important and each situation as unique, worthy of his undivided attention.
Jack’s impact on the community, the Misericordia and the profession he loved was profound and lasting. He held formal position as the Chief of Pediatrics and as associate clinical professor of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. Jack mentored hundreds of medical students and forged strong professional relationships that shaped the services and supports available to medical practitioners and the children and families they served.
Understanding the stressful impact that chronic day-to-day health problems had on children and families, he was instrumental in establishing busy Child Health Clinics at the Misericordia and Grey Nuns Community Hospitals, as well as the region’s Adolescent Pediatric Program. He established a thriving rural pediatric outreach program.
Jack was a good friend and supporter to his colleagues and students. Believing it was the health and wellbeing of physicians was vital to good care, Jack played a key role in the formation of the Physician Assistance Program to support physicians wrestling with mental health issues, occupational stress, and substance abuse.
With his family, Jack instilled a lifelong passion for the mountains and the outdoors, rooted in summers spent working at the Barrier Lake Forestry Field Station in Kananaskis. Favourite memories include camping in Marble Canyon Campground in Kootenay National Park and Waterfowl Lakes Campground in Banff National Park.
In his final years, Jack faced the challenges of Parkinson’s disease and cancer the way he lived his life – with humanity, compassion, courage, and a sense of humour.
At Jack and his family’s request, there will be no service. If you wish, please remember Jack with a donation to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation; by supporting an organization that serves children and families; or to the Memorial Society of Edmonton and District.