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Will Bentham

Physician, husband, father, humorist, athlete. Born Dec. 7, 1928, in Vancouver, died Aug. 28, 2012, at Stony Lake, Ont., of Parkinson's disease, aged 83.

While in high school, Will grew a luxuriant beard and was dubbed "Black Dog" by his mates on the football team. The coach of an opposing team complained that he was an older, experienced player, but he was only a tall and handsome 17.

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After finishing school, he and a friend signed on as crew on a Norwegian transport ship bound for postwar Paris, where they occasionally sat in the cheapest seats in the opera in order to keep warm. In later life, Will loved music, especially opera.

To pay his fees and living costs while at Sir George Williams University in Montreal, Will drove an ambulance. He remembered vividly the difficulties of carrying patients on stretchers down icy outdoor circular staircases. He also worked in a tailor's shop and acquired a tuxedo, which he wore for special events for the next 60 years.

He appreciated his medical education from McGill University and later donated generously. Ever since suffering a boyhood episode of severe pain, he had planned to become an anesthetist, and after 10 years of medical school and specialty training he started practice in Scarborough, Ont. He soon became the anesthetist-of-choice for other doctors, nurses and their families.

Always considerate and caring, he was respected by both patients and surgeons.

As a medical intern at Hamilton General Hospital, Will requested a hearing test to find out if he could detect the high frequencies on his new hi-fi set, which had cost $100 – a whole month's salary. He later claimed to have been incarcerated in the soundproof testing booth until he agreed to marry the audiologist, who later became his wife.

Will was the father of six adopted children. He used to joke that he was reluctant to drive past the Children's Aid Society offices in case his wife suggested that they "drop in."

As well as a football player in high school, Will was a tennis player, skier, golfer and crewman on his wife's 24-foot classic sloop on Stony Lake, where they spent their summers.

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He also gardened, planting flowers and vegetables in old boats at Stony Lake. He tried his hand at carving a totem pole, and invited neighbours to a totem pole painting party. He was truly a man of many talents and interests.

Weakened by Parkinson's disease in his later years, Will kept his wonderful sense of humour and accepted his condition with courage and grace.

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