Remembering David Braley
Canada lost a champion of primary care this past week. He was a friend, particularly to our Department of Family Medicine at McMaster, having contributed nearly $15 million over the last number of years to us. His gifts have been transformative. The legacy that he leaves in terms of an endowed chair, award winning building and programs of research will be an enduring legacy to his belief that family medicine is a critical foundation of the healthcare system. Mr. Braley was committed to improving the doctor-patient relationship, optimizing communication between primary care providers and their patients, and he fully embraced the model of interprofessional team-based care.
David Braley and his wife Nancy Gordon created the first endowed chair in our department. The original chair holder was Dr. Cathy Risdon; Dr. Dee Mangin is the current recipient. Mr. Braley generously supported our Health TAPESTRY project and provided significant funding ($10M) to enable us to build and relocate to the David Braley Health Sciences Centre in downtown Hamilton. He embraced the vision of a comprehensive, longitudinal family physician and always supported and encouraged our department to expand and strive to be the best that it could be. His leadership, through donations and support of our vision, were truly transformational. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that we would not be where we are today without the support and direction of Mr. Braley.
I have been privileged to have had countless conversations with David over the last 15 or so years. He was truly a wonderful human being; always challenging me to make our department the best we could be (and thus contributing to the reputation of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster). In spite of his success and his connections with Prime Ministers and Premiers, he never lost the common touch. He took such great pleasure in the renovated Rock Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens — he viewed it as a community resource and was proud of the fact that his stimulus gift prompted so many thousands of donations from the citizens of Hamilton, Burlington and beyond. He never failed to ask after my family whenever we spoke. He cared deeply for the employees in his many businesses and was always focussed on both mentoring the next generation and ensuring that the communities they worked and lived in were special places.
But beware the twinkle in his eye when he asked probing questions. He could see through a poorly thought-out proposal in less time than it would take me to articulate the proposal’s first two sentences. I am going to miss bouncing ideas off him and being challenged to think differently and more broadly. Whatever was suggested to him had to be excellent, contribute to society, further the academic mission of the University, preferably be the largest/best in class and, oh yes, “how is it going to be sustainable or make money for the university or the department?”
Thank you, Mr. Braley for your faith in us and your unwavering support. We promise to continue making a “Brighter World” through our work in McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine.
Professor and Chair