Whitehorse Daily Star

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Dr. Michael G. Bendall M.B, Ch.B., FRCSC, Dipl. Am. Board Ob/Gyn

May 24, 1946 – January 16, 2024

Dr. Michael Bendall passed away on January 16, 2024, with his wife Celeste and little dog Coco at his side, while Adagio for Strings played in the background. He was at the Wind River Hospice House surrounded by love. He left us too soon, a result of ALS.

He leaves his wife Celeste Sundquist-Bendall, son Charlie Bendall, granddaughter Hayden Smith Bendall, and stepson Sam Carson.

Family members in South Africa are nephews Bradd Bendall, Kevin Bendall, great-nieces Chelsea and Britney, and great-nephew Tommy. Michael Bendall was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to Iris May and Ernest Gordon Bendall. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother John.

Michael had a passion for the natural world and enjoyed wildlife safaris in Africa, birding, camping, sailing and boating. It was a delight to walk with Michael and listen to him identify birds by their songs, while pointing out interesting plants and flowers. To Michael it was all interesting.

Michael was a compassionate, dedicated physician who strived to do his best and improve the lives of his many patients. His efforts improved the obstetric and gynaecological care available in the North. A practising physician for 43 years, Michael spent his early years in Iqaluit, Northwest Territories (then known as Frobisher Bay).

He travelled by skidoo to make house calls to the Inuit elders in the communities and he learned some Inuktitut to better serve his patients. He provided care to the Inuit on Baffin Island, and travelled to medical visits in the remote villages in the High Arctic.

In 1980 he filled the position of a community-based obstetrician/gynaecologist (Ob/Gyn) in Whitehorse, Yukon. For six years he was the only specialist providing these services for women and girls, working with utmost dedication, understanding and skill.

He put the needs of his patients ahead of his personal life. Michael was available 24 hours a day, every day, in case of an emergency. This meant being within 20 minutes of the Whitehorse hospital at all times, day, night, weekends and holidays. Michael provided this service in addition to looking after the daily routines of surgeries and patient visits to the clinic. Over his career he delivered many thousands of babies and not infrequently saved the lives of those babies and their mothers.

In the early 1980s Michael initiated the first ultrasound service in the Yukon. With the help of a generous donation by the local Rotary Club, Whitehorse General Hospital was able to purchase the territory’s first ultrasound machine. Dr. Bendall performed all obstetric and gynaecological ultrasounds for several years.

He was on the board of the Friends of McIntyre Creek, a volunteer grassroots organization whose mandate is to attain park status to maintain the integrity of the last linear game corridor in Whitehorse and to permanently protect this gem of a wetland.

Michael supported global relief organizations such as Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, Operation Smile and the Canadian Red Cross.

He enjoyed music and frequently attended the Bluegrass Festival, Jazz on the Wing and many more concerts.

In addition to his medical qualifications, Michael held a degree in horticulture.

His friends will miss engaging with him in thoughtful discussions. No topic was out of bounds and his quick wit and sparkling humour kept things from getting too heavy. He loved to try to solve the problems of the world!

Michael was a recipient of the Yukon 125 commemorative medal, awarded in recognition of his professional and community contributions. His work and leadership helped to make a better place for all Yukoners.

He will be remembered for his sacrifice, and for his commitment to his community and to Canadians as a whole. His absence will be felt by many for years to come.

Thank you to doctors Jamie Wilkie, Alex Kmet, Alex Coholen and Sally Macdonald. A special thank you goes to the outstanding staff at Hospice, who cared for him in his last days with the utmost professionalism, sensitivity and kindness. We feel truly privileged to have received such high-quality care.

At Michael’s request, there will be no service or celebration of life.

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