Gerrit Johan T. Schuurkamp
It is with broken hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved son, brother and best friend Dr. Gerrit “Gerry” Johan Teunis Schuurkamp on Monday, February 5, 2018 surrounded by his loving family at the An Cala Pallliative Care Unit of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
Born January 17, 1947 in Arnhem, Netherlands, the son of Geertruida (Peters) and the late Gerrit Schuurkamp, Gerry immigrated to Canada along with his parents and two siblings arriving at North Sydney October 1954. Gerry was a well-known photographer on the Northside during the 1960’s and 70’s as owner and operator of Schuurkamp Photography as well as a photographer for the Cape Breton Post. He continued with his photography as he attended Dalhousie University in the early 70’s where he completed his BSc. in May of 1974. In July of 1975 Gerry left for Papua New Guinea arriving one month prior to that country’s independence from Australia as a CUSO volunteer. He worked as a field entomologist with the PNG Department of Health Malaria Control Program initially in Madang and in 1978 was transferred to Malaria Control Headquarters in Port Moresby as parasitologist. His work with malaria control took him all over Papua New Guinea. In 1980 Gerry received a scholarship from the Canadian International Development Agency to continue his MSc. at the University of Sydney in Australia School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine as well as Gabriele Gramiccia at the Australian Army Malaria Research Unit, and in 1992 Gerry completed his PhD in Community Health Tropical Medicine at the University of Sydney in Australia. In March 1982 Gerry took a temporary assignment with OK Tedi Mining Ltd in the Western province of Papua New Guinea to establish a program to control malaria. Consultations also took Gerry to mine sites in Mali, Africa to help set up similar disease control programs. That “temporary assignment” with the Public Health Dept. OK Tedi Mining Ltd ended up lasting until 1995, until his retirement home. Gerry’s association with that country and its people spanned two decades. Over that period he had seen much change. Having watched families mature and many of the younger generations from the 1970’s and 1980’s now married with families of their own, Gerry felt it was important to provide them with the reminder of their special culture before it became “westernized.” As a result Gerry created a picture book (photo album) showing the traditional culture and heritage of “The Min People of the Papua New Guinea Star Mountains”. The book captures images of a living past, as portrayed in the present for the future, after a decade of rapid development and a changing social structure. This book was as much a “family album” to Gerry as it is to the Min People and has been distributed all over the world.
After his retirement Gerry returned to Canada and settled at Kempt Head, Boularderie Island. He loved his property and enjoyed many years developing it and its gardens. He was a private, quiet soul but overwhelmed everyone that knew him with his kindness. Gerry loved to entertain and always captivated his family and friends by his many stories, but most of all he loved his family especially his nieces and nephews for whom he was always a wonderful role model.
Gerry was predeceased by his father Gerrit Schuurkamp Sr., his infant nephew Daniel Kenneth MacLeod and brother-in-law William Taylor.
Gerry leaves to mourn his passing his mother Geertruida, brother John (Rodina) Schuurkamp, Lamont, AB; sisters Trish Taylor, North Sydney; Brenda (Duncan) MacLeod, Boularderie Center, Thea (Brian) MacLellan, Kempt Head and nephews and nieces Troy Taylor (Angela), Gerritt Taylor (Michelle), Dawn Taylor (Ricky), Nathan MacLeod (Brittany), Joel MacLeod (Jamee), Emmaly MacLeod (Joey), Lorel MacLellan and Ella MacLellan. Great-nephews and niece William, Cove and Meadow Taylor. Gerry is also survived by an aunt, great uncle and many cousins in the Netherlands as well as his lifelong devoted friends Wes & Marie Stewart and their daughters Michelle and Jennifer.
Gerry touched multiple lives and made many great friends over the years, both at home and abroad. The family would like to extend a very special thank you to Dr. Harry Henteleff QEll, Dr.Rod McGory CBRH, Dr. John Ritter, Dr. Peter Poulos, Susan MacKenzie RN and Michelle Finney RN for their home visits, Dr. Wissam Saliba and staff of Cape Breton Cancer Center for their wonderful care, VON for their wonderful home visits and the physician’s and staff of the An Cala Palliative Care Unit for their kindness and care.
In keeping with Gerry’s wishes there will be no visitation or service. Cremation has taken place under the care and direction of W.J. Dooley Funeral Home, 107 Pleasant Street, North Sydney.
Memorial donations in Gerry’s memory may be made to the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton An Cala Unit or the Cape Breton Metro VON. Online condolences may be sent to www.wjdooley.com.