Sue Calne

November 2012

It took a phone call from their young grandson, Wil, then four, to convince Sue Calne and her husband Donald that it was time to move to Kamloops. “Granny, will you read us a story?” he asked. His mom turned on the speakerphone and Sue read Little Grey Rabbit’s Birthday to Wil and his brother, Adam. When she hung up, she said to Donald, “This is absolutely crazy, what am I doing reading a story over the telephone!” That settled it – they sold their Vancouver townhouse and headed to the Interior.

Donald, who retired in 2003, and Sue, who retired in 2007, had rewarding careers at UBC’s Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre, and are now enjoying life in Kamloops. Sue has made a garden out of a field, goes bird watching and hikes with their dog, Ruby Tuesday. Donald enjoys his radio-controlled airplanes and classical guitar. And, of course, they love spending time with their Kamloops family.

Sue says they’re reaping the rewards after decades of hard work, a feeling she summed up when making a recent gift of securities to Knowledge Network: “You have no idea how lovely (and lucky!) I feel to be in a position to do this. Forty-seven years ago we got married with four non-matching plates and mum-in-law’s furniture!”

The Calnes emigrated from England in 1974 – moving first to Maryland, and then to Vancouver in 1981 when Donald, a neurologist and researcher, was given the opportunity to head up The Neurodegenerative Disorders Centre at UBC, which became the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre. A year later, Sue was hired by the centre as its first nurse coordinator.

Through her work at the clinic and as a board member of the Parkinson Society Foundation of Canada, and later Parkinson Society BC, Sue worked to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers. Among her endeavors was the establishment of a national network of nurses in Parkinson’s clinics to provide care for patients and their families with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders. Between 1987 and 1998 she wrote the Foundation’s patient literature and organized their patient conferences with the help of the nurses in the programme.

With Carmen Dyck at Parkinson Society BC she developed and delivered outreach programs for nurses in BC Long Term Care facilities. What she enjoyed most in her career was the contact with patients and their caregivers, some of whom remain in contact as friends. Sue has published widely, particularly for nurses, patients and caregivers. She is currently managing editor of the journal Parkinsonism and Related Disorders. In 2001, Sue was named a Member of the Order of Canada. Donald was appointed an Officer in 1998.

Regarding her gift of securities, Sue says, “It’s satisfying to be able to give to Knowledge Network, keeping the gift in the province. Of course, I have favourite programs on Knowledge, but it’s more about knowing that it’s a British Columbia station, that the people running it know what they’re doing, and that what we’re given to watch is worth watching.”

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