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Zurich remembers doctor who cared for village for 50 years

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Dr. Charles Wallace is revered in the town of Zurich.

“Just a really special guy. A person may not always refer to their doctor as more than their doctor, but in this case, he was a friend,” says Mark Heimrich, whose family was Dr. Wallace’s patients, for four generations.

For 50 years, Dr. Charles Wallace was Zurich’s doctor. He cared for generations of families, and saved many lives along the way, including Sherri Penn’s son, who needed Dr. Wallace’s help with a neo-natal infection just days after birth.

“Scott would not have survived had Dr. Wallace not intervened and caught it. Because of that, he is my forever hero,” says Penn.

Born in an army camp in British occupied India in 1929, he trained as a doctor in London in the 1950s. Wallace moved to Canada in 1961, as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force stationed in nearby Centralia.

Dr. Charles Wallace passed away on Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023. He served for 50 years as the doctor in the village of Zurich, Ont. (Source: Family of Dr. Charles Wallace)

Following his three year commission, a delegation of Zurich residents asked Dr. Wallace if he’d consider being the town’s physician. He agreed, and wouldn’t hang up his stethoscope until 2014.

“He was our family doctor. He would, at one time, make house visits. He’d come even on weekends, if necessary. That just doesn’t happen anymore,” says former patient and friend, Julian Bayley.

“It wouldn’t matter what time of the day or night, you could be looked after there by Dr. Wallace,” says Marilyn Heimrich, whose entire family was looked after by Dr. Wallace.

A pioneer, Dr. Wallace would be one of Ontario’s first physicians to employ a nurse practitioner.

But, his forever fingerprints are all over the town he called home, Zurich.

No more than at the Blue Water Rest Home, which he helped found in 1965. He cared for the residents, and then spent some of his final years as a patient himself. A wing of the long term care facility bears his name.

Plaque inside Blue Water Rest Home denoting the Dr. Charles Wallace Hall in Zurich, Ont. on Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2023. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

“When I started 10 years ago, he was making rounds, doing house calls to our seniors’ independent living apartments. As well as coming into the rest home and seeing his patients, who became residents,” says Angie Dunn, CEO of the Blue Water Rest Home/West Huron Care Centre. “He knew his patients. He knew them as people, and he also provided their care,” she continues.

 

At the age of 93, Dr. Wallace passed away on March 18. His family held a private service on March 22, sharing this statement with CTV News:

“We want to express our deepest appreciation for the overwhelming love and admiration that you have shown towards Dr. Wallace since his passing. The numerous messages of condolences and touching stories that you have shared with us are a testament to how much he meant to you. Dr. Wallace had an unwavering commitment to his patients, and he never compromised on the quality of his work. He was also effortlessly charming, greeting everyone with a wink and a smile.

He lived a full and rewarding life, and we are all fortunate to have been a part of it. In addition to being a highly skilled physician and a valued member of this community, he was a cherished husband, father, and grandfather, who we miss so much already.”

Dr. Charles Wallace passed away on Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023. He served for 50 years as the doctor in the village of Zurich, Ont. (Source: Family of Dr. Charles Wallace)

A public memorial is being held this summer, on June 17 at the Hessenland Inn, in honour of Dr. Wallace. Generations of thankful Zurich and area residents will attend to remember the man, who was more than just the town’s doctor, for half a century.

“For 50 years to be around, to serve four generations of Zurich and area families, and everybody called him their friend. That’s how everybody, felt about him,” says Penn.

“The number of hours that man worked. I don’t know if we’ll see that kind of commitment in the future. He was very special, in that way,” says Heimrich.  

Dr. Charles Wallace passed away on Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023. He served for 50 years as the doctor in the village of Zurich, Ont. (Source: Family of Dr. Charles Wallace)

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