Memorable Manitobans: Robert Henry Thorlakson (1923-2011)
Physician, community activist.
Born at Winnipeg on 27 November 1923, son of Paul Henrik Thorbjorn Thorlakson and Gladys Maree Henry (1896-1987), he attended primary and secondary school in Winnipeg, obtained a medical degree from the University of Manitoba, then went to England for postgraduate work in surgery. Upon his return to Canada in 1956 he began his practice at the Winnipeg Clinic where he continued to work until his death. He was a distinguished colorectal surgeon and associate professor of surgery. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal Society of Medicine (London), the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, Past President of American College of Surgeons, American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and Founding Fellow and Past President of the Canadian Society of Colon Rectal Surgeons.
He served on the executive of many cultural organizations. He was a founder and Past President of Manitoba Opera, founder and Past President of Opera West, founder and Past President of the Federation of Professional Opera Companies of Canada, founder and Past President of the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts, Chair of the Building Committee and Fundraising Committee of the Chinese Cultural and Community Centre of Manitoba, and first recipient of their Golden Dragon Award, Past Provincial Commissioner and Past President of St. John Ambulance and Past Vice-President of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He served on the board of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg Habitat for Humanity, Leo Mol Gardens, and Aquatic Hall of Fame and Museum of Canada.
In recognition of his exemplary community service, he received the Canadian Forces Decoration, Canadian Centennial Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), and Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal (2002). He was a Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John and an Officer of the Order of Canada (1996). He had an extensive knowledge of Heraldry and designed Coats of Arms for several organizations.
He died at Winnipeg on 23 February 2011.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 28 February 2011.
We thank Trish Loewen for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 21 November 2019
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