Michael E. Roberts

August 29, 1944 - January 09, 2018
Michael E. Roberts


On January 9, 2018, I lost my cherished husband and my very best friend. We shared a wonderful life together for over thirty years. 

In 2008, Mike was thrilled to return to Kingston, his birthplace.  Merely a stone’s throw from his childhood home on Barrie Street, we found a downtown residence, embraced a new lifestyle and developed many new friendships.

Mike had a long and rewarding teaching career in the Ottawa area. He was a natural-born educator and administrator. Mike gained the respect of the staff, students and community in each and every school where he felt privileged to work. Fellow principals and superintendents held him in high regard, considering him”one of the finest”.

With a lifelong interest in education, Mike enjoyed being amongst the students in our community. He was honoured to participate in the Queen’s Faculty of Medicine First Patient Program. I wish to acknowledge and thank Alanna Bridgman and Sean Tom (Class of 2020), Meghan McPhie and Shannon Tang (Class of 2021).  Mike thoroughly enjoyed your visits and also meeting with you at some of his medical appointments.  Thank you as well to the many students who came to our home to hear Mike’s story and to learn about the challenges of living with COPD. Your interest, your sincerity and your enthusiasm encouraged him to continue to work hard at keeping his disease at bay.  When opportunities presented themselves for Mike to participate in lectures or research studies he was always willing to do so.   A student who wrote to him on behalf of Queen’s Meds Class of 2017 stated “You had said that you had retired from teaching a few years ago but I can assure you – you did not!” Mike’s battle was truly a team effort.   To all of his student friends, I wish you good luck in your studies.  Aim for compassion, not perfection.  Offer kind words with a tender touch and always take time to be a good listener.

Mike received tremendous support from the staff and from fellow participants attending the Respiratory Rehabilitation Program at Providence Care and at St. Mary’s of the Lake prior to the relocation to the new facility.   Here, he exercised to maintain a level of wellness that gave him a better life.   He learned how to cope with and how to manage shortness of breath.  It was said that Mike “exemplified both the challenge and the courage of living with COPD”.  He was a model patient, committed to a routine that he followed fastidiously... a poster child for this life-changing disease.  Lorelei Samis, Pamela Lloyd, Jennifer Patelli and others involved with the rehab group made attendance at these sessions a far more pleasant experience for Mike.

Mike was always interested in sports.  One of the most difficult aspects of living with COPD is the gradual decline in the ability to participate in favourite activities. Mike had to learn to accept limitations, to make modifications, to set realistic goals and to develop new interests.  He managed to maintain a positive attitude but it was a big disappointment to no longer be able to golf or to curl!

Sisters Joan Smith and Beverley Martin will miss their younger brother.  Mike was an admired uncle, justifiably proud of the accomplishments of our many nieces and nephews.  Other family members and many dear friends will fondly recall time spent together on the Saint Lawrence River and in South Florida.   Such fun we had! 

Mike doted on Valentine, our precious little poodle-bichon. She found her forever home with us in 2007 after being left at a pet shelter in Sunrise, Florida. Valentine loved Mike unconditionally. She instinctively knew when his spirits needed a boost and just how to get the job done.

To Dr. Chris Parker and the emergency room team who saved Mike’s life in June 2014, thank you for the extra years you gave us to spend together.  I will never forget you.

From our very first appointment with her in September 2014 at the Advanced Dyspnea Clinic, we knew that Dr. Ingrid Harle was a special physician. Dr. Harle guided us through a labyrinth of uncertainties, allayed our fears, and intuitively sensed changes in Mike’s status.  She could also very deftly see through Mike’s bravado (without letting him know!)  Dr. Harle kept us from feeling overwhelmed or discouraged and offered us much comfort during these trying years.   Heartfelt thanks to you for your compassion, your devotion and your friendship.  You are proof positive that angels are among us on this earth.

I offer sincere gratitude to Dr. Dennis O’Donnell, Elizabeth Hill NP, Dr. Brian Kain and Dr. Patricia O’Donnell. Your knowledge, expertise and support allowed Mike to live a better life.

Mike received the best of care at the KGH.  Thank you to each and every person who attended to him during his final days. Your efforts to keep Mike comfortable and to allow Valentine and me to stay at his bedside helped lessen our pain. 

If I had my life to live over, I would have found Mike sooner so that I could have loved him longer.   An event to pay tribute to Mike will be held this summer.   To all reading this, please take a moment to ensure you have signed your Organ Donation Card.

The following three groups offer significant help to those with life challenging issues:  Queen’s University, Division of Palliative Care Medicine, 34 Barrie Street, Kingston, ON K7L 3J7; Hospice Kingston “The Time is Now Campaign” 36 Barrie Street, Kingston, ON K7L 3J7; Providence Care Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program, 752 King Street West, Kingston, ON K7L 4X3.  Donations directed to any one of them in Mike’s memory would be most appreciated.

                                                                                                            Catherine Roberts



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