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In memoriam
August 09, 2021

Dr. William Edward Nelson Corbett


Dr. William Edward Nelson (Bill) Corbett passed away peacefully, in the presence of family, on Aug. 9, 2021, at Arbour Heights Nursing Home in Kingston. Bill, along with his beloved twin sister, Mary (Botterell), was born on Oct. 7, 1932, in Ottawa, to Nelson Corbett and Rena Corbett (née Landry).

Bill grew up in Ottawa and attended Glebe Collegiate. He shared many great adventures with the Huxtable boys who lived across the street and with Mary during summers at a cottage along the St. Lawrence River. A childhood bout of pneumonia left him bedridden for a year and fostered a lifelong passion for reading. He always had several books on the go and encouraged a love of the arts in his children.

At the young age of 17, Bill started medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston (meds ’56) where he was one of the students who lived in Medical House. It was early at Queen’s that Bill met the love of his life, Lois (née Grant) from Smiths Falls (arts ’54). They married in December 1956 before Bill started his residency in pathology at Queen’s. Two daughters, Susan (Ken Smith) and Cynthia (John Visser) soon joined the family. In 1961, the young family departed for London, England, where Bill continued his training for two years at the Post-Graduate Medical School of London, where he was among the first physicians in Canada to receive training in the application of a then nascent technology, the electron microscope, to pathology. During this time, he held research fellowships in pathology from both Queen’s and the National Cancer Society. His research earned him an M.Sc. from Queen’s in 1962. In 1963, the family returned to Canada where Bill started his career in the Department of Pathology at Queen’s, joining the staff at Hotel Dieu Hospital and later transferring to Kingston General. A son, Hugh (Denise Lash) soon followed.

Bill taught pathology to generations of Queen’s medical students for 34 years until his retirement in 1996 as a full professor of medicine. He was recognized over the years by the students for his teaching excellence. Bill was proud of his contributions to the growth of the department and felt blessed to have worked with so many exceptional colleagues and residents over the years. Bill formed many close friendships with his classmates and colleagues and cherished playing bridge and celebrating new years eve with the same small group for nearly 50 years. Bill also looked forward every year to renewing friendships with colleagues from around the world at international pathology conferences.

Bill was an avid sailor and often said many of his happiest moments were spent sailing the waters of Lake Ontario, first racing his International 14 dingy out of the Kingston Yacht Club and later cruising with Lois and the kids on their boat, Panacea. For several years, Bill and Lois spent their winter vacation bareboating in the Caribbean with friends. Bill's other lifelong passions included jazz and wine. Bill and Lois spent many happy summers with friends and family, including his brother- and sister-in-law, Jim and Karen Grant, at the family cottage on Big Rideau Lake, sharing stories and laughter over cocktails, meals and loud games of Trivial Pursuit. In between sailing his Laser, fishing and swimming, Bill restored the rock piles that had been dislodged by the winter ice with the precision of a stonemason.

Bill and Lois travelled extensively, both on their own, and with his twin sister, Mary and her husband, John Botterell, on art and museum tours. Bill and Lois celebrated their 50th anniversary with a memorable Caribbean cruise with their children and grandchildren and their diamond anniversary in 2016. In retirement, Bill fulfilled one of his life dreams when he and Lois rented a house in Provence for a summer. In his later years, Bill took up oil painting and French lessons at the Kingston Seniors Centre. He enjoyed both activities immensely and was grateful for his wonderful instructors.

In addition to Lois and their children, Bill leaves behind six grandchildren — Mackenzie and Kelly (Susan), Andrew and Brendan (Cynthia), and Kathryn and Megan, as well as two step-grandchildren, Maya and Gabriel (Hugh). He also leaves behind his dear nephews, Andrew and Angus Botterell. He was immensely proud of all of them and took great satisfaction in their many accomplishments. Bill also leaves behind three great-grandchildren — Isla, Kieran and Halina — whom he never met due to the pandemic.

Bill was cremated. Updates will be on the James Reid Funeral Home website. In lieu of flowers or donations, Bill would want you to enjoy a glass of your favourite red wine with family and friends or with a good book. Tributes may be sent to