- The Homepage of Dr. Lyn Sutherland





Dr. Lyn Sutherland died of cancer at home on Wednesday, February 16, 2005, in her 88th year.

A descendant of Irish immigrants who settled in Toronto in the 1820s, Lyn was the third generation born in the city. Born May 11, 1917 to the late Laura McDonald and Charles Thompson Roddy, Lyn earned a BA in Biological and Medical Science at the University of Toronto (UofT) and began her study of Medicine in 1933. In her third year, her mother fell ill with cancer. Lyn and her classmate and life-long friend, Dr. Lillian Lome, spent much of their year in caring for Mrs. Roddy. After her death, Lyn dropped out of university and worked as a chemist.

In 1938, she married James (Jim) Walter Sutherland, "the boy next door" whom she had known since grade school. They had eight children.

Lyn said her greatest achievement was the fact that her family survived with so little money. Part of the income came from her work in a variety of jobs, including credit investigator, boarding housekeeper, canning factory and hospital cafeteria worker. In the early 1950s, Lyn was hired by the Blood Bank Services of the Canadian Red Cross in Hamilton, Ontario and earned her registered technician diploma, along with other certificates. Impressed by her capabilities her supervisors encouraged her return to Medicine at UofT, where she enrolled in second year. She was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honour Medical Society at year-end, but declined the honour because of the membership fee.

"I told them that, if I had $30, I would have bought shoes for my kids," she said. Her fee was paid by the late Ray Farquharson, Professor of Medicine, and Lyn received her membership certificate in 1958. She proudly wore her AOA pin for the rest of her life.

She graduated in 1959, at age 42. She stood third in a class of 108 and won the Pathology medal.

After interning at Toronto General Hospital, Lyn began a career in scientific research at the Hospital for Sick Children, specializing in kidney function. In 1965, she earned a doctorate in Physiology and Biochemistry (UofT). She lectured in Physiology at the UofT and mentored two graduate students. She also worked briefly as a researcher at St. Joseph's Hospital.

After her research funding ended, Lyn joined a provincial program supplying doctors to under-serviced areas. Concerned that her career in research only qualified her to be a "rat doctor," Lyn upgraded her medical skills and, in 1971, moved to Kirkfield, Ontario, where one of her first patients was a cow. When she considered retiring, she and Jim moved to Cameron, Ontario. However, Lyn converted the garage adjoining the house into a small medical office and continued a part-time practice.

Lyn and Jim celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary three months before Jim's death in October, 1988. Although she gave up her practice in Cameron and returned to Toronto, she retained her licence to practice Medicine "because it was so darned hard to get it!"

In retirement, she learned how to use a computer. Because of her interest in kidney diseases, she joined an email group whose members suffer from Bartter's or Gitelman's syndromes. She soon launched her own web site,, to explain how the kidney functions. Even during her final illness, she hoped to update its pages with the latest scientific information and looked forward to exchanging emails with the Yahoo! Bartter's/Gitelman's Support Group.

"Lyn brought so much knowledge, humour, love, and encouragement to us all," says group member Cindy Kerr. "She motivated us to become knowledgeable about our rare kidney diseases. She helped us so much in improving our quality of care and our quality of life. We are forever grateful. When my husband read Lyn's home page about Bartter's/Gitelman's Syndrome, he said that, for the first time, he finally felt he had an understanding of the genetic defect. She was a wonderful communicator, along with having a beautiful heart."

Lyn will be missed by daughters Sara Jane (Robert Brooks) and Irena Laura (Gerry Singleton, who lovingly nursed her throughout her final illness), sons Charles Roddy (Dale Farrelly), Walter James (Lynn Arnott), Michael James (Sylviane Maringka), Joseph Loren (Michelle Woods) and Ian Jerome and by her former daughter-in-law, Carol Sampson Sutherland.

She was predeceased by her son, Robert Francis (1975) and by her sister, Harriet Rachel Kelly Macdonald. She will be remembered by 15 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Arrangements have been entrusted to The Simple Alternative. Cremation has taken place, in keeping with her directions. A Mass to celebrate her life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, 2005, at Annunciation Church, 3 Combermere Dr. (on Victoria Park Ave., one block south of Ellesmere Ave.). Interment will be in the family plot at St. James Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Lyn's memory may be made to a charity of your choice or to the Freeman Centre for Palliative Care, North York General Hospital, who helped us to fulfil Lyn's wish to die at home.

The family offers special thanks to Dr. Stanley Teitelbaum and Virginia Clarke Weir from the Freeman Centre for their compassion and support; to the Victorian Order of Nurses, especially Colleen Ramsden; to Carol Thompson of the Community Care Access Centre; and to the Personal Support Workers.


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