Medical 05

R. Mervyn Letts

June 29, 1940 ~ December 3, 2023 (age 83) 83 Years Old

R. Mervyn Letts Obituary

Dr. Robert Mervyn Letts, FRCS, a beloved husband, dedicated father, and devoted grandfather, passed away on December 3rd, 2023.

Born in Killarney, Manitoba in 1940 and raised in Minnedosa, Merv Letts was active in his community. He delivered newspapers, played hockey, and developed fine motor skills playing the trumpet and carving leather. He began university in 1957 with a science program at Brandon College (now University of Brandon), followed by Medical School at the University of Manitoba. On May 21st, 1964, he experienced a memorable day, graduating as a Doctor of Medicine and marrying Marilyn Jones in an evening ceremony.

During university Merv received financial support through the RCAF officer training program. He then served as a medical officer at the National Defence Medical Centre in Ottawa and was seconded to the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), Air Transport Unit 115 in the Sinai Desert from 1966-67. Merv's and Marilyn's lives took them to Beirut, where Marilyn worked for UNRWA, providing schools and medical care in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Gaza.

Returning to Canada, he pursued extensive training in Orthopaedic Surgery beginning with an MSc at Queen's University then  fellowship training at the University of Manitoba. He further honed his skills in Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at the Hospital for SickKids, University of Toronto. His dedication led him to work and teach at Winnipeg Children's Hospital, eventually becoming Head of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief, and Chair of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Manitoba.

In 1989, he was recruited as the Head of the Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. He served as president of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. Former students describe him as a legend in the field of orthopedic surgery as an educator, researcher and innovator. In addition to his medical career, he enjoyed playing tennis and indulged in collecting stamps, old comic books, dinky toys and 1950s cars with his boys.

In 2003, Merv was hired to establish a Pediatric Orthopaedic program at Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Over the next six years, he embraced a new environment and culture, and explored the region alongside Marilyn. On his return to Ottawa he served as a consultant, providing clinical,  educational, and research advice to hospitals and universities. He joined the Rotary Club of West Ottawa, supporting the Rotary Home for Children in Ottawa and Rotary International's mission to eradicate polio. Merv often drew inspiration from the RCAF's Latin motto, "Per ardua ad astra" – Through adversity to the stars.

Survived by his wife, Marilyn, his sons and daughters-in-law Ian (Shelley), Eric, Daron (Jillian), and grandchildren Baigh, Reverie, Osler, Vyka, Shaeden, Jared, Casey, and Tyche. He is also survived by his brothers Keith (Linda) of Killarney, MB and Glenn (Carol) of Treherne, MB, and many nieces and nephews. A private family gathering will be held in the springtime to celebrate Merv's life. In memory of his commitment to children worldwide, donations may be directed to Save the Children (Canada) or Doctors Without Borders.

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