‘Dr. Mac’ given fond send-off

Duane Hicks

It was an evening of fond memories, laughter, and even a few tears.
A sold-out crowd of 220 people gathered Friday evening at La Place Rendez-Vous to celebrate the career of Dr. Angus J. Mackintosh, who retired Sept. 30 after 39 years of being the obstetrics and gynecology physician in Fort Frances.
Riverside CEO and president Wayne Woods saluted Dr. Mackintosh for his professionalism, noting he always maintains a certain calm demeanour on the job—even when he was called out in the middle of the night.
“He’d always be Mac,“ Woods said. “I really think that is something to be admired.”
It’s been estimated Dr. Mackintosh has delivered 10,000 babies since he began practising here in 1971, and it’s clear he has touched many lives.
“We have been blessed by your presence,” Woods remarked. “Thirty-nine years is an amazing career and we are one of the fortunate small communities to have a gentleman of your calibre visit us for the last 40 years.
“We thank you for that.”
Dr. Jas Spencer said Dr. Mackintosh always has been a team player.
“As a specialist in a community of doctors, you have to be a team player,” he stressed. “Of course, you have to be a team player because you are dependent on your colleagues.
“Teamwork, especially in the operating room, is so important,” Dr. Spencer added. “You are dependent upon the anesthetist, you’re dependent on the surgical assist, you’re dependent on the scrub nurses.”
Dr. Spencer joked that the surgical staff are quite relieved a left-hander is retiring, and he won’t be putting the needles on the needle holder “the wrong way.”
“We’ve been a team, it’s been wonderful,” he said.
Dr. Spencer also passed on greetings from Dr. Brian Johnstone and Dr. Richard Moulton, who couldn’t be in attendance Friday evening.
The obstetrics department staff paid tribute to Dr. Mackintosh with a song to the tune of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”
Afterwards, RN Susan Whalen, who has worked alongside Dr. Mackintosh for the past 34 years, said she was proud and honoured to be part of the celebration.
“It was difficult to find words that were eloquent and adequate enough to express our appreciation for your lifetime commitment, dedication and devotion to the world of obstetrics, and how you affected our lives in such a positive way,” she remarked.
“Also, what joy you brought to the lives of parents, literally thousands of them, as you brought newborns into the world. . . .
“Dr. Mac, we want you to know how much you’re respected, valued, and held in high regard by your colleagues, nursing staff, and all of your patients,” Whalen added.
“On behalf of all of the nurses, I want to say thank you. Thank you for always being there for us, for always being the enthusiastic teacher, for teaching us not to be afraid, for I quote, ‘If I am not afraid, than you shan’t be, either.’
“And so we weren’t. Our fears were calmed by your strong, reassuring presence,” Whalen noted.
She also thanked him for his patience—even when new RNs called him in the middle of the night to a delivery they thought was imminent, and yet after he arrived, waited and waited.
“We’ll miss your story-telling, your quick wit, dry sense of humour, and your amazing recall for historical dates,” Whalen continued.
“Most of all, Dr. Mac, thank you for not just being our mentor but also for being our friend. . . .
“How are we ever going to fill those big boots? You set the standard high.
“Last but not least, we must say thank you to Carole, Dr. Mackintosh’s wife, for always being so cordial and helpful on the phone when we phone at all hours of the night trying to track him down,” Whalen said. “You don’t have to share [him] with us anymore.
“So even though it’s a sad time for us, we’re so happy for you. As you enter this new phase of your life, it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself.
“You deserve it. It’s been a heck of a ride.”
Wearing a pair of Dr. Mac’s white rubber boots, Dr. Lorena Jenks remarked some people have said she’ll be taking over for Dr. Mackintosh, but that’s not possible as his boots are three sizes too big.
She added she’s learned much from Dr. Mackintosh. And every time she’s phoned him in the past 20 years, he has responded without fail.
“Congratulations on your retirement. I’ll try not to accidently phone you,” pledged Dr. Jenks.
Presenting Dr. Mackintosh with an etched glass plaque, RN Marilyn Erwin said it’s no secret to many of the staff at the hospital that to the obstetric nurses, Dr. Mac has become something of a father figure.
And just as young children believe their dad can rescue them from anything and their dad can fix anything, the nurses feel that way when he arrives on the floor.
The surgical department staff read out a humorous poem about Dr. Mackintosh while Dr. Elaine Spencer, president of Nelson Medicine Professional Corp., as well as a colleague and friend, recalled when she and her husband met the Mackintoshes in Scotland back in 1971.
“They were keen to come [here] and we were keen to have them. So we recruited them,” she noted, adding when the Mackintoshes came to Fort Frances in August, 1971, they brought with them a Mothercare two-wheeler bike as a gift, which was well-used for many years.
“It’s been great having you around us. You probably all know he is an excellent joke-teller and story-teller,” added Dr. Spencer, noting monthly meetings at the clinic usually were disrupted by Dr. Mackintosh’s reminiscing and many, many jokes.
She noted some earlier presenters commented on him being elderly, and she felt it appropriate to connect him to his “antiqueness” by giving him some antique obstetrics equipment.
Dr. Mackintosh wrapped up the evening’s program with a few jokes, stories from his early days, and heartfelt remarks.
“As Plato said, ‘Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something.’ And I’ve just been told I have to say something,” said Dr. Mackintosh.
He recalled that when he first started, the hospital was a very busy place. Doctors delivered about 400 babies each year, and now it’s down to about 200.
Women stayed there for five days after giving birth, or eight days if they had a Caesarean section.
Dr. Mackintosh said he was honoured to have an evening dedicated to his career, and joked he hopes he can keep up his current level of popularity.
“Family, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen, ex-patients, I want to say a very great big thank you for the singular honour that you’ve done me tonight,” he remarked.
“I’ve enjoyed all my years in Fort Frances, I’ve enjoyed the work,” he noted. “I think that this is probably the most emotionally-rewarding specialty, and something that I’ve really gotten pleasure and emotional reward from.”
Dr. Mackintosh’s son, D.J., was emcee for the evening, providing some humorous insights into the home life of his father, including his driving habits, frequent visits to Canadian Tire, and his tastes in Scottish fare.
The evening also featured a slideshow of Dr. Mackintosh’s life—from his youth in Scotland through the past four decades practising medicine here. Just prior to dinner, Dr. Mackintosh was piped in by Fort Frances Highlander Pipe Major Dr. Bruce Lidkea.
Dr. Mackintosh also was presented with several gifts Friday evening, including plaques, a framed picture, and a gift certificate to take a trip.
Dr. Mackintosh, who turned 80 this year, was born near Fort William, Scotland. He studied medicine in Glasgow, Scotland and Portsmouth and London, England, and obtained his degree in Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery in 1958.
He then entered specialist training and qualified as a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) in 1968.
He eventually was elected a Fellow in the RCOG in 1986.