Dennis Julian Stern was born in London, England in 1935, the only child of Benjamin and Theresa Stern (nee Finklestein). He died peacefully and well-cared for in the palliative care unit of West Parry Sound Health Centre in Parry Sound, Ontario on January 16th, 2021.
He was proudly born in the sound of Bow Bells which he always said made him a true Cockney. He was a beautiful child with chubby cheeks and thick dark curly hair but was born into a time of encroaching war and anti-Semitism. Like many children, he was evacuated at age 7, during the Blitz from London to the countryside – an event that he never wanted to disclose much about.
As a young man, he was smart, athletic and adventurous – and after the war travelled through Europe where his love affair with France started. He was one of the small quota of Jewish students admitted into the University of London, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine where he successfully graduated from in 1962. He remained close through the years with his fellow graduates, attending as many of their class reunions as he could.
After graduation, he was faced with mandatory conscription and had to choose between the RAF in England, or to join the Armed Forces in either Canada or Australia. He had a friend who had come to Canada and so the decision was made. He moved with his first wife to Canada and embarked upon a 5-year stint with the RCAF as a flight surgeon and base physician. His final move to Rivers, Manitoba was where his two children were born. He left the RCAF in 1968 and moved to the small Ontario town of Parry Sound where he practiced family medicine for 47 years.
He practiced true family medicine – care from the cradle to grave to generations of Parry Sounders. He got up in the middle of the night to do house calls, he delivered many babies – and then the babies of those babies, he acted as anesthetist, as coroner, and took on a number of medical students under his wing. He also served temporarily as the Medical Officer of Health for Parry Sound/Muskoka in 1995, during SARS. He ended his practice at the Lakeland Long-Term Care facility where he jokingly stated he was working with people the same age and disposition as he was!
He was a dedicated and loyal physician – he was stubborn, tough and opinionated and did not suffer fools gladly. He pissed off many nurses and patients along the way – but he deeply cared about his work and was committed to caring for others. He especially loved the work that he did with the peoples and community of Wasauksing First Nations, and his locums in Iqaluit.
Outside of his work - he was a true hedonist and intellectual – he loved the best of everything. He immersed himself in history and reading, gardening, doing cryptic crosswords (he was a whiz), and music. He enjoyed being the consummate ‘host’ to others in his home. He was passionate about good food and wine (he has an enviable wine cellar), and when he finally retired, he became an accomplished cook. His home was filled with beautiful Inuit and Indigenous Canadian art which he spent years collecting and cherishing. He travelled the world with his wife Brenda – most notably to his beloved France - but he was also drawn to and loved Georgian Bay upon whose shores his home rested.
He leaves behind his devoted and loving wife of 42 years, Brenda; his canine companion Tosca; his daughter Louise Stern (Tony Jarvis), and his grand-daughter Ruby Theresa Jarvis of Gabriola, B.C; his daughter-in-law Heather Stern, and his grandsons Ryan Benjamin Stern and Alexander Matthew Stern of St. Thomas, Ontario. He was pre-deceased by his beloved son Matthew David Stern who he loved and missed dearly.
The family wishes to thank the thoughtful and loving care he received during this last hospitalization – especially to Dr. T.J. Fargher and the nursing staff of the West Parry Sound Health Centre.
At his request, there will be no funeral. A celebration of life will be planned in the future when we are all able to meet and be together.
As expressions of sympathy, donations to the West Parry Sound Health Centre would be appreciated.
He was the best of the best... and he will be missed so very much. He was my doctor for a number of years, prior to his retirement. I absolutely adored him due to his intelligence and kindness in the medical field. May he rest in peace.-Beverlee Brown
As a newly minted RN, I thoroughly enjoyed working with Dennis on the maternity ward at PSGH. He was excellent at making even difficult deliveries appear easy to handle. And what a great sense of humour!! Dennis and Dan Daley taught me so much about the real world of nursing. Ross’ and my heartfelt condolences go out to the family for your loss.-Marilyn Raby
I have tears writing this...no words can express how much Dr. D meant to me. He had the ability to make you think you were his most important patient! From the time i was 4 or 5 and kicked him in the shin for giving me a needle, to the call he made to personally tell me he was closing his Family Practice....he never failed to make me feel safe, important and loved. Brenda...I'm so very sorry for your loss...deepest condolences to you and your family. Xo-Kathy Rosewell (Mace)
Brenda and family of Dennis
My sincere condolences. I always enjoyed working with Dennis. He definitely was stubborn but gave great care and was jovial to work with. He will be missed by many. Hugs to you Brenda
Dear Brenda; My heartfelt condolences on the loss of such an amazing husband, father, Doctor and friend. I have so many great memories of Dennis both personally and professionally. He delivered Jennifer and Cheryl, both of who today are now mothers themselves (to four of my beautiful grandchildren). Dennis was a most respected Coroner and a friend who I held in the highest regard. I have thought of you both fondly and often over the years and wished I could have spent some time with you both. I wish you peace and loving memories always of a great man and a life well lived. A man who committed his life to helping his fellow man. May God bless and keep him close at hand. Brenda please let me know when the date for the celebration of life is determined. Sincerely, Tony Cooper - Still River/Parry Sound OPP 1983-1996-Anthony Cooper
Doc' , a light has slowly burned out, but an angel is on his way to heaven! You were a god send to me and my Mom over the years. I honestly am and will be forever grateful to you and your kind loving ways! Straight forward, and right from the hip every time, lol! You called us your family from the Island, Doc, the feeling is mutual! I can still feel your hug that you gave me after Grandpas story, performance at the Stockley Centre in Parry Sound. Chi-meegwetch! Sure gonna miss you and your usual banter, but I will remember you the most when I smell that wonderful smell of sweetgrass in July. Hugs to you Brenda, and the rest of the family. A remarkable man, one of a kind, and a heart of gold!-Laura Pegahmagabow
To Brenda and family, my condolences to you at this sad time.As a registered nurse I worked many years with Denis both in his capacity as a family physician and as a coroner, he was also my family doctor and delivered my daughter. I always had great respect for his knowledge and compassion, nerves so much as when he called me personally after my husbands sudden death to offer his condolences and support. I hope you will find comfort in your own special memories at this difficult time❤️ Sincerely, Roxann Meldrum-Roxann Meldrum
Dear Brenda and family, Condolences to you at this difficult time. The staff at the ol General thought very highly of Dr. Stern, his wit, humour, knowledge and teachings, especially on Pediatric ward, he will not be forgotten, may he now rest in peace-Ruth Robinson
My dear friend, Brenda. Condolences, lots fo love and heaps of hugs from our family and clans here at Ishpecog. Many memories, Many prayers for a sweet and sacred Spirit Journey for Dennis. Please, share our words of condolence to the Stern family-Vera Pawis Tabobondung
Dr Stern was my family doctor for a number of years. Never have I met a Dr as genuinely interested in his patients. He never over booked, alway had tons of time for me, and was extremely thorough regardless of the reason for the appointment. I will never forget his care and professionalism. Sincere condolences to the family.-Mark Payne
I had the pleasure of working with Dr Stern for many years in the OR. He was a dedicated Dr and took great care of his patients. Thinking of him brings a smile to my face, I always enjoyed hearing about his many adventures and loved his sense of humour. He truly will be missed.
Sending my heartfelt condolences to Brenda and the family. Hugs to all.
Dr. Stern was my doctor for many many years until he retired. He delivered my children and was truly a caring and compassionate Doctor , he always went the extra mile when you needed him to, he was one of the best. Condolences to the family-Gail Jacklin
Please accept my utmost condolences on behalf of the King family on Wasauksing. He was our family Dr. and we are so ever grateful for his care for us. Miigwech Doc, you will be always in our hearts!-Hilton King
I am so sorry for your loss. I had the privilege of being one of Dr. Stern’s patients. He delivered me and saved my life at the time. I will always remember his laugh and sense of humour. I will remember him with fondness.
It will with heartfelt sympathy I send sincere condolences to you Brenda, Louise, and your extended families. I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Stern since my young years through my friendship with Louise, and then was honoured to work
along side of him in the OR. My first memory as a child, he was rather angry, after trusting Louise to carry his doctors kit from the boat to the cottage, and accidentally ended up scattered floating in Georgian Bay. We sure laughed years later. I respected him, his knowledge and stubbornness. He only wanted best, especially for his patients. He spoke often of France, BC, archeology travel, and his family. We liked music but hated ‘Cow Music’ he called country, which we now refer to as the same. He was meticulous as an anesthetist and also known as the best baby doctor in the district. He’ll be remembered as one of those great physicians and men
We are forever grateful to Dr. Stern. He saved our daughter's life when she was born prematurely and went into cardiac arrest!-Paulette and Dave LaBrash
Lesley and I send our sincerest condolences. Our digital picture frame often shows pictures of Dennis and Brenda dancing at my dad's 60th birthday party and it evokes strong memories of cheek-straining smiles and joyous laughter.
I'm one of many who Dennis actually helped bring into this world. Last night we debated who played a bigger role, Dennis or my dad!
I have personal memories of conversations "Dr. Stern" and I have had that aren't appropriate for digital transmission, but I'll hold them forever.
We're so saddened to see Dennis go but blessed to have been part of his life and he a part of ours.
Jacob and Lesley Kennedy-Jacob and Lesley Kennedy
So sad to hear of Dennis’s passing. I worked in Parry Sound from 1974 for 5 years and Dennis was one of the first people I met at the DGH. Both of us had been medical students in London (the one in the United Kingdom) and we had also spent time as Medical Officers in the RCAF and RAF respectively. We shared a love of good wine, black humour and tiny pieces of very old paper – also known as philately. We worked in different practices and he was a solid medical colleague, always supportive during the many hours we spent together in Emergency or the OR. My wife, Peg, and I send our sincere condolences to Brenda and the family - you are in our thoughts. It was a good life well lived and he will be missed by many. Rest in Peace dear friend.
Dr Chris Jarvis
Dear Brenda and family; I am so sorry to hear of Dennis’ passing! He was my family Dr. Just after starting nursing at the PSGH. He was such a great Dr. and when he retired I really missed him! As you know Brenda , I also had the pleasure of working with him on Pediatrics and obstetrics. I learned a lot from Dennis and considered him a friend. He was well liked by both staff and his patients. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.
Condolences to family, friends and patients of the good doctor. I delivered the globe and mail paper to him for several years and heaven forbid I was late delivering as he was always waiting for me lol. Yes you are correct in saying he pissed off many nursing staff as my mother was one of the nurses who worked under him at the PSGH and Belvedere home for the aged. Mom always admired him for the level of care and the thoroughness he demanded for his patients well being. Doctors like this are a rare commodity.-Tim Harrison
We were so saddened to read of Dr. Stern's passing. He was an important person in the life of our family.
There are many occurrences when we required his expertise and wisdom and he always came through for us.
He was kind man, an honest man and even a wee bit 'crusty' at times, (probably warranted) but, always there to help.
For all of his brilliance, he was yet a humble man.
He stayed true to himself - to who he was as a person. He was honest and yet compassionate.
We were blessed to have had him as our Doctor for many years. And to dear Brenda, he couldn't have done all that he did without you by his side...thank you.
We are truly thankful also, that we recently took the opportunity to let Dr. Stern know how important he was in our family's life, and to thank him. May his memory always be a blessing to those he cared for.
My deepest condolences to the family I can’t begin to express how much this beautiful man meant to me I’m just heartbroken right now
He was my doctor since I was a little girl and he took such good care of me as the years passed our doctor patient relationship was more like a father/ daughter he told me he had a soft spot in his heart for me I knew that because he went the extra mile to help me I owe this man a great deal for I was heading down a bad path but he helped me get to a good place
Meegwetch dr stern for everything and caring for Wasauksing you were and will always be an honoured member and a part of us
Until we meet again 🌹
Dear Brenda and your family
I had the honour to have worked with Dr Stern for 30 plus years as an RN at WPSHC . No better man could take care of his patients his assessments skills were so excellent , his heart for his under his care was always shown especially to the children . He always treated myself with respect and kindness , but he expected the best of care to be given . I will miss him greatly His skills have been missed . Brenda I send our caring thoughts to you as well as our prayers . with a heart of sadness I wish we could share this in person . Until then know we send a hug R$onda and Jim
Dennis was a good friend and a fine physician. We will miss seeing him at the Festival of the Sound. We were Medical Associates patients in the 1960s. Dennis' death is a loss to everyone who knew and cared for him. He made this world a better place.-Heather Mallett
To Comfort You Many thoughts and prayers are with you at this time of sorrow-Tom and Sue Besner
Dear Brenda and family,My heartfelt condolences to you at this difficult time.I was the Night Nursing supervisor at the old General Hospital when I first began working with Dennis.He and I had an instant and long running relationship that was full of mutual respect for the patients as well as a decidedly demented sense of humour we both shared.I will miss his pointed jabs at my Scottish heritage which he delighted in delivering whenever we crossed paths at work.He was to me,the truest definition of what a doctor should strive to be---dedicated,compassionate and committed to each and every patient. Memories of the banter we exchanged still bring smiles to my face.-Ian Lumgair
Dear Brenda, My heartfelt condolences to you at this sad time. Dr. Stern has and always will be held in high regard and respect in our family. He was our doctor for many years, and was always there for us during some difficult times. When our youngest son was born with health issues, Dr. Stern saved his life. As an RN on OBS, I worked with him many times and also at Medical Associates. We will never forget his care and kindness. Brenda, I wish you comfort and peace in all the days ahead. Sincerely, Jean Kitchen-Jean Kitchen
So sad to hear of Dr. Sterns passing. He was our family physician for many years. A fine, understanding and compassionate man. It was an honour and a privilege to have known him. Our sincere condolences to all of the family.-Ken and Bev Webb
Wishing you a good journey Dr Stern, on behalf of my mother Hazel Tabobandung-baa who always spoke kindly of you. You helped catch all 11 of her babies, thanks for being there to help welcome us all into the world. Sending light and love to your family and loved ones at this time.-Amy Desjarlais (nee: Tabobandung)
My very heartfelt condolences to the family of Dr. Stern - he was my Dr. from my birth up to his retirement. I have many fond memories of visiting him or just running into him on the street. Always happy to have a conversation about anything and eager to put a smile on my face. He will surely be missed.-Tim Heitman
I was truly saddened to learn of Dennis' passing. He was always such a friendly and enthusiastic bloke around me.
Above all I remember the lovely friendship you had with my parents: good food and wine, lively conversation, and great companionship.
Please pass on my condolences to his family, and above all, my thoughts will be for you during the difficult days ahead. May your grief be brief, and your memories be comforting and everlasting.
I was so sorry to hear about this loss. It was just over 50 years prior to his passing that be delivered my twin brother and I at the Parry Sound General Hospital. My mom tells the story about her Christmas Eve present from Dr. Stern "Your having twins". While we moved from Parry Sound we continued to return in the summer months as cottagers and still saw him as our summer doctor. Sorry for your loss and our hearts go out to you and your family-Edward Lawrence