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In memoriam
Aug. 24, 2023

Dr. Margot Ruth Roach

Roach, Margot Ruth.jpg

With sad hearts, we announce the death of Dr. Margot Ruth Roach, aged 88, in Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro, N.S., on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

Margot was born in Moncton, N.B. on Dec. 24, 1934. She was the eldest daughter of Dr. Robert D. Roach of Tatamagouche, N.S. and Katherine L. McMillan of Jacquet River, N.B.

Margot’s life was dedicated to learning and teaching. She was a lifelong learner who became a trailblazer in her field of biophysics. After retiring from a full career as a university professor, researcher and physician, she continued her learning in theology to become a licensed lay worship leader. She was influenced by many mentors and was equally passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience with her many students and young nieces and nephews.

Among her early influences, her grandfather, W.R. McMillan, and Margot spent many hours debating on diverse topics, and she credited him with her ability to think on her feet and excel in oral exams.

Margot was also greatly influenced by her high school geometry teacher’s motto, “We can if we try hard enough." Dr. McNaughton encouraged Margot to attend the University of New Brunswick where she earned a B.Sc. in honours math and physics and became intrigued with biophysics. She joined the summer intern program at UWO Biophysics Dept. and found her home.

A third mentor was Dr. Alan Burton of the biophysics department at the University of Western Ontario. He encouraged Margot to continue her studies in biophysics and then told her that, for her research to be recognized by the medical profession, she would need to have a medical degree.

Margot followed his advice and completed her M.D. at McGill University in Montreal. She later trained in Internal Medicine and studied for her PhD with Burton. 

She thrived on combining the associate professorship of biophysics at UWO, internal medicine consultant at Victoria Hospital in London and later at University Hospital and continuing research for the Medical Research Council of Canada. She won awards in biomedical engineering, for research on blood flow and artery mechanics and was the first chair of biophysics following the retirement of Dr. Burton. Margot designed a biophysics course for medical students at UWO, and her creative assignments were devilish combinations of clinical medicine and biophysical concepts. She was most proud of her teaching award by the graduating medical class, "Class of '62 Award" as the students had voted her the professor who taught them the most during their university years.

Margot’s work in biophysics took her around the world, including sabbaticals in Australia and Oxford where she continued her research, presenting at international meetings and in support of the development of biophysics programs in other countries including China. In recognition of her continuing work in biophysics she was awarded a D.Sc. by UNB Saint John. There are two scholarships set up in her name at the UNB and one at Dalhousie Medical Faculty. The flag at UWO will be lowered in her honour this week.

After devoting a lifetime to the advancement of biophysics, she married Franklin St. Alban House of Oxford, England, a few days before her 60th birthday. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of returning to Tatamagouche, she and Frank happily retired to Sand Point and were welcomed by the community. While in Tatamagouche, Margot remained active, volunteering with the hospital board at Sharon United Church and filling in as a licensed lay worship leader at churches in the area.

Margot was predeceased by her mother and father and two infant brothers, Evan Dickson and John Robert. Left to mourn are Margot’s treasured friends Ann Wildish of N.B. and Pat Hankinson of England, stepdaughter Jane Lusty of England, and Margot’s sister, Lorna Roach Tissington of Nanaimo, B.C. Also, nieces Janice Colleen Tissington Walker (Michael) and Margot Lynn Tissington, and nephew, Garth Stephen Tissington (and his wife Holly Kinkaid). Great nieces Darby Meagan Walker and Nora Frances Loyst and nephew Benjamin Stewart Loyst. Many students, friends and relatives will miss a caring and inspiring role model and friend.

Margot’s family gives heartfelt thanks to the staff of Parkland Truro for their care and especially to Valerie Kerr.

Donations may be made to Sharon United Church or the Heart and Stroke Foundation.