Husband, father and grandfather, sportsman, Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, businessman. Born May 16, 1944, in Quebec City, died Feb. 24, 2013, in Vancouver, of lymphoma, aged 68.
To say John loved family, friends and country would be an understatement. To say that he lived each day fully would only begin to describe the man.
John’s childhood was marked by a life-threatening case of polio. At the age of nine, he spent the summer in bed, told that he would never walk again. For an active young boy that restless summer would be a defining moment: He was determined he would not live from the sidelines again.
While John enjoyed considerable success in his more than 40 years in business, he is also remembered for his love of what he called the “Three Sport Day.” Whether he was skiing the black diamond trails of Whistler, B.C., golfing with family or friends, paddling his canoe in Ontario’s Algonquin Park or fly fishing in B.C.’s Birkenhead Provincial Park, he had a unique ability to squeeze as many of his passions into each day as possible.
John had an endearing habit of enthusiastically discussing each day’s “mandatory” and “optional” activities. Holidays, centred on sharing with the family his love for his country, brought out his desire to maximize each day with a full itinerary. His ability to create memories meant his wife of 46 years, Ruth, and their three daughters, Elizabeth, Anne and Margaret, enjoyed wonderful times together, along with son-in-law David and grandchildren Claire and Malcolm.
Whistler, his favourite place, signified family for John. He delighted in morning swims with daughters, spotting black bears wandering by, savouring a glass of good wine, sneaking Froot Loops to grandchildren, and squeezing in a twilight putting competition. He was happiest on skis, downhill or cross-country – preferably both in one day. His zest for life was infectious.
John’s ability to connect people brought success in his 36-year career with KPMG and its predecessor firms. He was honoured to be named a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2002 and, after retirement, took his optimistic outlook to a number of public company boards.
John was, most of all, a proud Canadian. He considered his trip last November to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France to be a “mandatory” activity. There, he was so affected by the sacrifices of the young Canadians that he was moved to write his thoughts to his family: “I headed to the Memorial in silence, trying to understand what these men thought and felt. Pride for the Canadian battalions who fought seared my heart. This battle was thought to signify the birth of our nation, Canada. I wiped away my tears, and stood, stilled by the place, the history, the significance. I thought about Canada and what we as a nation hold high in our standards and principles.”
In the last few years, while dealing with lymphoma, John had been impatient about not being able to squeeze in all the activities he loved so passionately. He longed for those Three Sport Days to complete more of his “mandatory” activities.
Dad went into hospital last January. On Feb. 24, he paddled his canoe away for the last time, leaving his beloved family, and the life he loved so deeply.
Ruth Brodie is John’s wife. Anne Brodie Fischer is his daughter.