Newhouse, Joseph Ross
Dad had a good life and a good death. In many ways, his death was a reflection of his life, and Dad’s life was marked by a number of good decisions.
After serving in the Air Force during WW2, he chose to invest in a university education (and investing in lifelong learning was something he always promoted). On the 5th of September 1949, he married Pauline (Graham) and soon after raised a family of three boys (Chuck, Ross and Ian) and one daughter, Nancy. His career was highly successful (Chartered Accountant for Husky Oil, VP Administration at the University Hospital in Edmonton, Professor of Hospital Administration at U of A). In the mid 50s, Dad made the decision to purchase 4 acres of land on Lake Lillian, and the property has evolved to become the focal point for all family gatherings ever since. Dad didn’t take up golf until around age 40 but it quickly became a healthy obsession for the next 57 years, which is one thing the boys inherited from him. A perfect day for Dad would be a large breakfast, a round of golf with Pauline and/or the boys, followed by the requisite “happy hour” with a gin and tonic, ideally on the dock to absorb Lake Lillian’s beauty. These happy hours allowed for not only a recounting of all the golf highlights, but a catching up on all of the diverse family activities. After supper, the perfect day would conclude with a couple of rubbers of bridge where Dad would invariably win as he seems to know not only his partner’s cards but those of his opponents.
How did Dad make these rewarding decisions? Dad was very good at providing an objective, insightful analysis of any situation; and the situation may range from career advice to what card you’re supposed to be playing in bridge. Another thing was his sharp mind, often evidenced by a sharp wit. Just a couple of weeks ago, Nancy and I were discussing the challenges of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) with Dad, and the point was made that whereas MAiD sounded good in theory, it was more challenging in practice when you come face to face with it. Dad then piped up to say “Yeah, and you only get one practice!”
Good decisions are built on a set of values. Dad’s values were family, patience, honesty (i.e. count every stroke and play the ball where it lies), embrace the challenge as well as the ride, and to treat people fairly and with respect and humility. I remember after one round of golf (which is a lesson in humility and honesty in itself), Dad imparted a related life lesson. I had been recounting my round and sprinkled a couple of sentences with the big “IF”. If I hadn’t had to take a stroke and distance penalty for that out of bounds ball on #6 or if I hadn’t missed that putt on # 12, it should have been a gimme anyway. Dad then said “You know what they say about IF, don’t you Ian?” I replied “No”, to which he responded “Well, if your uncle had tits, he’d be your aunt.” Another life lesson was duly registered.
If Dad were to describe the perfect death, he would probably have liked to die of a heart attack on the 18th green after draining a long birdie putt, thus capping off an excellent round. The alternative to a perfect death, and one that Dad decided on, was MAiD, surrounded by family, listening to Ross playing the piano, looking out at the natural wonder of Lake Lillian (which inspired Nancy’s passion in nature conservation), from the beautiful home that Chuck built, gin and tonic in hand, and after enjoying the recounting of a good round or a life well lived….And this is what he did.
An extra comment from Mom
“Joe and I have had many long conversations regarding the end of our lives these last few years and are so grateful to our kind and loving friends and our thoughtful community. In particular, a thank you is extended to Dani Bondoc who provided home support, the healthcare workers Gwen, Jan, Angela, Shauni, Karen and Will, Nurse practitioner, Jessie McKersie, and Dr. Edward Schaffer. We are most appreciative now that we are able to resolve our wishes. We are so proud of and happy with our wonderful family. We know that our happy lives will be reflected in each of theirs.”
Joe is survived by his wife Pauline, sons Chuck (Jan), Ross (Anne Morin), Ian (Donna), daughter Nancy (Trevor), grandchildren (Ayla, Breanna, Lia, Graham, Megan,”little” Joe and Dougie) and most recently great grandson Emil Joseph.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Nature
Conservancy of Canada (https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/) or Pynelogs Cultural Centre and Art Gallery