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Dr. Clarke Fraser

We are very saddened to report the loss of Dr. Clarke Fraser, at the age of 94, on December 17th, 2014.  Clarke was the father of Medical Genetics and Genetic Counselling in Canada.  He was the first recipient of the CCMG Founders Award and a former CCMG and ASHG President. Those of us fortunate enough to have known Clarke will agree that his legacy lives partly in the curiosity and wisdom that he imparted to all of his students.  Clarke was a superb physician and scientist – and an equally wonderful human being.  His truly remarkable career and distinguished achievements are summarized in this professional biography and video tribute that marked his introduction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.  His history is also summarized in the following obituary:  http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/montrealgazette/obituary.aspx?n=f-clarke-fraser&pid=173618924


F. Clarke FRASER
March 29, 1920 - December 17, 2014

Dr. F. Clarke Fraser, PhD, MD, DSc (Acadia), DSc (N.Y. at Potsdam), DSc (McGill), LLD (Dalhousie), Officer of the Order of Canada, Prix du Québec recipient and Canadian Medical Hall of Fame laureate, died peacefully in Digby Nova Scotia on December 17, 2014.

Born in the USA to Annie Louise (Clarke) Fraser ("Nan") and Frank Wise Fraser, Clarke grew up in Jamaica but had deep family roots in Nova Scotia. He earned his BSc at Acadia (1940) and his MSc, PhD and MD (1950) at McGill. In 1950, he became Canada's first medical geneticist when he founded the Division of Medical Genetics at the now Montreal Children's Hospital. From 1950 - 1982 he was Director of the Department of Medical Genetics at the Children's Hospital and Professor of Human Genetics at McGill. Following, he was Professor of Clinical Genetics at Memorial University, then in 1985, Professor Emeritus at McGill. In 1999, he moved with his wife Dr. Marilyn Preus to his family home in Bear River, Nova Scotia.

A beloved teacher and brilliant researcher, Clarke Fraser was a pioneer in medical genetics, teratology and genetic counselling. He co-authored two textbooks on human and medical genetics and authored a book on the genetics of common familial disorders. He was President of the American Society of Human Genetics, the Teratology Society, and the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists; and headed the working group on genetics and prenatal diagnosis of the Canadian Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1985, awarded the Prix du Québec in 1999, received four honorary degrees, and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2012.

Clarke is survived by his former wife Beryl (DeBlois) Fraser; his wife Marilyn Preus; children Norah, Noel (Patricia), Alan, and Scott (Tasha); and grandchildren Trevor, Emmett, Megan, Gillian, Masha, Alexander, and Ogden. He was a quiet man with a gentle sense of humour who loved music, athletics, his family, and a scotch before dinner. He played rugger until the age of 40, and tennis until 81. Clarke frequently said how lucky he was, in both his career and his marriage to Marilyn, his beloved wife of 41 years. He was genuinely interested in other people and intensely curious about the natural world.

He is deeply loved and will be greatly missed by his extended family, his many colleagues and former students in genetics and teratology, and numerous friends and neighbours. "He tried to be good."