Westlock mourns Dr. Sydney Gomes
Dr. Gomes passed away April 12
When Dr. Sydney Gomes, 83, passed away peacefully at his home in Westlock on April 12, he left behind lots of fond memories with many people in the community.
First and foremost there is his family, but also his many friends, colleagues, patients, fellow Rotarians and many others.
To some, he was simply Dr. Gomes, the man who was their doctor or delivered their baby at the old Immaculata Hospital and in the final years of his practice, the Westlock Healthcare Centre.
To others, he was just Sydney, a man who earned their respect for the kind of person he was.
He was born in Bombay, India, now known as Mumbai, in 1929. He earned his medical degree from the University of Bombay when he was just 23 years old.
He moved to England shortly thereafter, where he met his wife Elsebeth and had his children, Anthony and Michael.
Gomes moved his family to Westlock in 1970 when work in England became hard to come by, and started a practice in town.
One of his partners in the Central Medical Clinic, Dr. Guy Gokiert, said last week that undoubtedly over his career, Gomes delivered thousands of babies into the world — a reasonable guess would be 2,000 over his 26-year career.
“He had the magic hands, and he always knew what was going on. With his prodigious memory, he knew and remembered all the names and the weights and whether they were boys or girls, what happened, etc.,” he said.
His partners in the clinic remember him as a hard worker and a skilled doctor.
“He was a very loyal person — if he said he was going to do something, he was on top of it, did it very well and was very organized and very meticulous,” Gokiert said.
He retired from the medical profession in 1996, but continued to keep busy with his hobbies and other activities, like his involvement with the Westlock Rotary Club. He was active with the organization, serving on several committees and as president of the club for 1992-93. During his year as president, he initiated his STAMPS project. It was in keeping with his hobby of stamp collecting, something he began as a young boy.
STAMPS — Stamps To Abolish Malnutrition, Poverty and Suffering — was his way of raising extra funds for the club. People collected their used postage stamps from that time on, and Sydney sorted through and sold them, raising well over $2,000 for Rotary projects.
At his funeral, a section of the church was reserved for his fellow Rotarians and about 50 members and many spouses attended. As his son Anthony said, it was most fitting that his father’s funeral service be his last Rotary meeting.
His two sons delivered the eulogy at the funeral, and remembered their father fondly
“Dad was a real family man, and mom was his best friend,” Anthony, who is now a surgeon, said.
“He took great pride in the work he did,” added Michael. “He said he had a great life, loved his wife dearly, and spoke with pride of his boys and grandchildren.”
When Anthony first talked of going into medicine, he said his dad tried to talk him out of it, explaining that, “If you really want to do medicine, you have to understand that it’s not just a job — it’s a lifestyle and it can fill lots of your waking hours and your sleeping hours as well, depending on what you decide to do in medicine.”
He said his father’s advice was no doubt a big influence in his decision.
“He was a bit surprised that I chose medicine, but at the same time, I think he was very proud,” he said.
Anthony added he saw how much his father enjoyed his work, and felt it was really the only thing he could do.
“He felt what he did really mattered — and I think everybody wants that in their life and work,” he said.
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