In memory of Desmond Doran

Des Doran with wife Joan. Des is wearing the Jamaican Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation

DORAN, Desmond E. E.

January 3, 1936 – May 18, 2020

On May 18, 2020, in the morning, Desmond Emerson Edward Doran passed away peacefully at the General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, with the love of his life, his devoted wife of more than 58 years, Joan Doran (née Bosley) and daughter Kimberley by his side. One day earlier, when the end of his life was near, his wife, daughters and sister Cecille met with him one-by-one in his sunny hospital room, and he had the opportunity to tell them how much he loved them and to hear how much he was loved by them.

You might have met Des only briefly but noticed his friendly manner. He might have offered you, a stranger, a lift in his Jaguar if it was raining when you were waiting for a bus on Bank Street. He might have helped you when you dropped an item at the Loblaw’s in the Glebe. You might have exchanged pleasantries with him when you walked your dog past him as he pruned the red roses at his Spanish-style home on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway. You might have stopped by his lovely house when it was a water station for Race Weekend, or, when it was a station for volunteers during federal, provincial and municipal elections. Or, you might have known him well, and worked with him at Agriculture Canada on Carling Avenue, in Ottawa, or on a committee such as the Ottawa Police Services Board, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Council on Aging of Ottawa, Correctional Services Canada – Regional Ethnocultural Advisory Committee, the City of Ottawa’s Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee, the Community Council for Ethnocultural Equity of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Ottawa-Carleton Immigrant Services Organization, or the Jamaican Ottawa Community Association. Des appreciated all the friends and colleagues that he met during his working career and while participating in committees, and the family would like to take this opportunity to thank all of these people for their friendship and support. Des was truly a glorious person who loved to be in the middle of the action. He was like a “Doctor Bird”, helping everyone and involved in good causes – believing everyone deserved the same fair treatment and respect in life. He had a wide network of family, friends and acquaintances and, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, large celebrations would be held in his honour.

Most of all, he would want to be remembered as a devoted husband to his beloved wife “Joni”, and father to his three treasured daughters: twins Kimberley Doran (husband David Goldstein, daughters Jacqueline Goldstein and Hannah Goldstein) and Michele Doran-Sugar (husband George Sugar, sons Mathew Sugar and Martin Sugar), and Marcie Doran (husband David Attwater), all of Ottawa.

When his girls were at school, he attended all band concerts (even making records from his recordings of the school bands at Philemon Wright High School, which were sold in support of the high school music program), taught kite-making to their classes, and drove them to (and more importantly, picked them up from) house parties in the Chelsea area. When he retired from Agriculture Canada before Joan retired from elementary school teaching, he met her at the end of each day, put the small chairs on tables to make it easier for the night cleaner, carried her heavy bag of booklets to review to the car for her and made her dinner. He was devoted to his four grandchildren. When they were young teens, he drove Jackie and Hannah to their private school and made sure they had snacks when he picked them up in the afternoon – he was thrilled when the family moved back to Ottawa from Vancouver; he encouraged Mathew and Martin with their love of cars, planes and games, and set up a computer just for them in his dining room.

He had a varied career – working as a researcher at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, as a professor at both Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec, and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia; as an economist at Agriculture Canada in Ottawa for 23 years; and two international positions of which he was most proud: working on a UN irrigation project in Blantyre, Malawi, and working on UN (IFAD) projects in the Caribbean, based in Rome, Italy.

Des was a proud Canadian – flying a Canadian flag outside his home, hosting annual Canada Day parties – and also a proud Jamaican. Des came to Canada in 1956 and worked tirelessly throughout the past 64 years to better the lives of Canadians. In 2012, he was honoured to be awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. His lifetime of service to Jamaica was recognized in 2018 when the Prime Minister of Jamaica bestowed upon him the Prime Minister’s Medal for Appreciation of Service to Jamaica, at a ceremony full of pomp and circumstance in Kingston, Jamaica.

The honour in 2018 could not have come at a better time – he was finally back on his feet after one of the lowest points of his life. In March 2017, he was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer following a routine annual physical. Joan was diagnosed on the same day with breast cancer. Together they made the rounds of appointments for chemotherapy and radiation, supporting each other. He lost his hair and his appetite and, for a time, his normally boundless energy. And then, wondrously, starting in September 2017, he regained his strength and vitality. On April 30, he drove to a COVID-19 testing centre because he had been having trouble breathing for a few days. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with an aggressive lung cancer. He did not have the coronavirus. Despite best efforts of the hospital staff, he continued to have difficulty breathing and was not able to return to his much-loved home. Many thanks to the dozens of medical staff who worked since 2017 to extend his life – especially Dr. Marc Langill, and Dr. Rodney Breau, Dr. Sandeep Sehdev.

Des was born in Lacovia, a small town in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, on January 3, 1936 to Daisy Marcella Doran (née Williams) and Basil Edward Doran, who were both born in Jamaica. Daisy and Basil had met and married in San Francisco but had returned to Jamaica in 1928 for what was to be a short visit to family in Slipe, St. Elizabeth Parish (near Black River), to show off their baby Basil. Des had three brothers (Basil Edward Doran (deceased 2020), Jack LeRoy St Clair Doran (deceased 1999) and Rupert Oliver Doran (deceased 2014)) and three sisters (Gloria Joyce Chambers (née Doran), Kathleen Marie Angela Weise (née Doran) (deceased 2018), and Cecille Marcella Campbell (née Doran)).

Des attended public elementary schools in Slipe and Claremont. When he was 12 years old, he won a scholarship to Jamaica College in Kingston, at that time the top secondary school in Jamaica. He studied at the Ontario Agricultural College (now part of the University of Guelph) for his BSc (1960) Agriculture and MSc (1961)(Agricultural economics), and at McGill University in Montreal, where he completed the coursework for a PhD in economics.

Des met Joni in 1959 through a mutual friend who was walking down Wyndham Street in Guelph, Ontario with Joni. Joni was teaching in Acton, Ontario. Des left Canada to pursue graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley but he missed Joni so much that he propose to her on the telephone, planned the wedding, and they married in Guelph, Ontario, on December 23, 1961 and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Des would want you to know that he had a wonderful life. He married the love of his life, had three loving daughters, designed a house that he had built in Chelsea, Quebec, and worked as a professor, in the federal government and in international development. He would want you to get involved – he always said that life was too short, live it to the fullest. He encouraged other men to have their prostates checked regularly. He would want us to let you know that he did everything he could to be a supportive husband, father, brother, grandfather, colleague and friend. We will miss him dearly and treasure our memories of Des Doran all the days of our lives.

He loved: photographing flowers by the canal and at the Dominion Arboretum, making greeting cards featuring photos and coloured crayons, jazz (esp. Brubeck), throwing house parties with Joni, strawberry fields, roses, tulips, bougainvillea, hibiscus flowers, dogs (Mam’selle, Kandabar, and Morgan), Soca dances, architecture, politics, recruiting friends for JamDay maypole dancing, the Oriental House restaurant on Elgin Street, the meatball sandwiches at the Prescott on Preston Street, watching the boats float down the canal by his house, New York City, going to the ByTowne Cinema and Mayfair Theatre with Joni, Morgan sports cars, Jaguars, Rome, Juventus, exploring Tuscany with friends and family, waking up and eating breakfast in Jamaica, making kites, eating cashews, catching up with Jamaica College “Old Boys”, The Gleaner, eating Marcie’s carrot cake and Joni’s sandwiches, hearing from friends and relatives, his blue Italia jacket, dashing to the mall with Kim for last-minute holiday shopping, watching March Madness with Kim, listening to Miki’s stories, listening to Jackie’s stories, watching Jackie paint, getting texts from Hannah, eating fettuccine Alfredo with Hannah at Colonnade Pizza, listening to Martin and Mathew sing karaoke, and dancing with Joni cheek to cheek.

Des will be interred at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa on May 25 with only immediate family in attendance due to the current restrictions. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Please contact marcie_doran@hotmail.com if you wish to share memories of Des with his family. Should you wish to make a donation, he would have appreciated your support to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation https://www.ottawacancer.ca/get-involved/ways-to-give/make-a-tribute-gift/. For messages of condolence please visit www.beechwoodottawa.ca

Black Ottawa Scene interview with Des Doran

Des Doran at 2019 JAM Day

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