Dr. Paul Watkin Roberts O.M., M.D., C.C.F.P., F.C.F.P.

March 20, 1923November 22, 2020
Obituary of Dr. Paul Watkin Roberts  O.M., M.D., C.C.F.P., F.C.F.P.
YouTube Link: Dr. Paul Roberts Memorial Service - PAUL DANBY WATKIN ROBERTS, 0.M., M.D., C.C.F.P., F.C.F.P. Honorary Consul of Ecuador in Toronto Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto March 20, 1923- November 22, 2020 "Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains you can't tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible, and HE CAN DO WHAT NO OTHER FRIEND COULD DO!" Dave Williams, Music Director, The Peoples Church, Toronto. Paul Roberts was a "no mountain too high" man. Where others would back off the challenge, Paul Roberts just went ahead and did it. And amazingly others followed him. He could communicate that it was God's work that needed doing, and He would provide all that was needed, and good people caught the vision - AND IT WAS DONE. That is the story of Paul's life: sick and miserable as he was in his Sunnybrook Palliative Care bed, he was on the telephone stirring up a shipping route for the fourth ambulance to Ecuador. Capping off tons and tons of goodwill that he has steered into his adopted country. He was just a little kid born to impoverished missionary parents in his mother's home in London, England. Back in India he was left under big sister Ruth's care to do pretty much as he wanted, for the first eight years. Toted from one lodging to another through the States and Canada; finally, when his Dad returned to the business world, settling with his parents in an apartment near Toronto's elegant Rosedale district. Was it Paul's enterprise or his father's that got him into trouble for peddling lollipops to his wealthy classmates? Or was it the berries from the backyard tree that he sold to neighbors that tipped off that this was a young man who would not wait for the world to be handed to him; he'd find a way to change it. But then God got hold of him, as a 17-year old at Muskoka Bible Camp where he turned his life over to the Lord Jesus Christ and was baptized to follow Him forever. And Paul Roberts discovered that it was GOD, WHO WOULD MAKE A WAY. A 'way' that took him in 1949 with his new wife Barbara Cullen, to HCJB missionary radio ministry in Quito, Ecuador. God's way that led to this wet-behind-the-ears doctor pulling bodies out of an earthquake site, stopping his car just before the road fell away into a great gap left by the quake. And telling stories in a way that stirred listeners to give multiplied thousands to build a hospital for Ecuador's poor. Or the foresight to leave space for a hospital elevator in a land where such an extravagance was undreamed of. He developed a solid confidence in God and His word - The Bible - a confidence that helped him earn an Ecuadorian medical degree with highest honors - in Spanish - in only two years, including an original research study that developed a successful treatment for "Pinta", a troublesome Ecuadorian disease. Paul had a "can-do" confidence that with God's help, he could pull off whatever needed to be done, whether it was driving an ambulance up a steep riverbank on two skinny planks, and around hairpin mountain turns. Or rig up a litter and help carry a desperately ill woman missionary six hours through the jungle night to a safe delivery at Hospital Vozandes. This confidence carried through when he returned to Canada where, in 1968 he was enlisted to help open the new university hospital, Sunnybrook; in almost every department he was a key player on the team. When he retired, he was Acting Chief of Family Medicine and full Professor, University of Toronto. Paul Roberts always kept a Bible on his desk and gave many away during private practice years. During those years he led 10 teams of Orthopedic surgeons to Ecuador for conferences upgrading national specialists. At one point, Paul was granted a six months sabbatical to serve as physician in an 'under-serviced' area. In this case it was with First Nations and railway employees in a remote area north of Lake Superior. While there Paul realized how many of his minor surgical skills had deteriorated, and thinking about the many doctors in similar situations, decided to enlist the help of 25 specialist colleagues to each write a chapter. Paul compiled these into a 600-page book --a book that has helped doctors around the world and would win him a full professorship with the University of Toronto, with a nice increase of salary, and pension. "Once again I could only thank God for His help," Paul concluded. Soon after his return to Canada in 1960, Paul had become a member of EMAS, an arm of the Christian Medical and Dental Society gathering supplies to facilitate medical missions overseas. He also was involved in setting up the Christian Horizons program providing Christian-led residences for challenged young people. He was one of the founding members of Christian Children's Fund Canada and only recently retired as Honorary Chair. His gift of fund-raising continued, enlisting enough money for his new church building program; and later he brought in millions for a campaign to enlarge and modernize his beloved Hospital Vozandes. In his family and church life, with his wife Barbara and children David, James and Betsy he tried for normalcy with regular Bible class attendance and an open Sunday dinner table. Paul reveled in playing trumpet with the Roberts Brass Trio in Sunday night services, with James on trombone and Dave on trumpet. The Algonquin Park cottage was a treasured summer retreat, with Paul pulling the kids on water skis down the lake. He was delighted that he could send his children to the best schools, and treat the family to trips to Bermuda, Ecuador, and India. Possibly what Paul Roberts valued most was his continuing Ecuador ties: he was thrilled when asked to serve as Ecuador's Honorary Consul of Ecuador in Toronto which involved issuing passports and visas, legalizing birth certificates, even performing marriage for Ecuadorian citizens. And he was given a special consulate red license plate for his car! --He liked that very much. Paul was the consummate diplomat with a capital "D"; he enjoyed immensely the Consulate Corps activities and social functions such as the glittering black-tie dinner for the Queen and Prince Phillip at Toronto's glamorous new Harbour Castle Hotel. The man beside him keeled over and it was Dr. Roberts to the rescue - the Queen never blinked an eye as they carried the poor man out.... Then he was given Ecuadorian citizenship, only the second for a person not so born, with Passport Number One. Over the years there were many awards and tributes from the President, including the equivalent of Knighthood. When Paul was 74, the President sent an SOS asking Paul for help following the disastrous El Nino floods. And within two months friends helped pack a 20-foot container of food, followed by a special aircraft carrying six tons of medical supplies. And so, with the little FRIENDS OF ECUADOR COMMITTEE it has continued with enormous supplies of medicines and medical equipment, hospital beds and wheelchairs, ambulances, and a big red firetruck with the Canada flag boldly displayed. When the poor people requested a more respectable vehicle for carrying their dead to be buried, Paul went looking for, and found a used funeral coach. But Ecuadorian import laws had no such category, so the hearse was denied. In a 'Find-a-way' Roberts classic, a new application was submitted for "A specially designed vehicle to transport cadavers." Permission was granted and the gleaming almost-new hearse was delivered. The first of three. To date, FOE has sent 75 maritime containers plus tons of deck and aircraft cargo. And another ambulance is waiting to be driven to the ship as soon as Corona virus restrictions are lifted. Each shipment includes a plaque that states: "A donation from THE FRIENDS OF ECUADOR, Toronto, for the Glory of God." Paul was always surprised by the honors and tributes that came his way, like the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003 for his "significant contribution to Canada, my community, and to fellow Canadians." Looking back over his life he would see that music had played a role: he was an accomplished trumpeter and this led to his playing, at only age 17, the solo Last Post in packed Varsity Stadium and in Times Square New York with Peoples Church Trumpet Trio. And then with the Meds Gospel Team during university years: how lifelong friendships were made with Bob Foster and Bob Stephens who all went on to build missionary hospitals. Paul would say that the most significant lesson learned during Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) days at University of Toronto was the lifelong habit of "keeping a morning watch." The quiet time spent in reading his Bible and prayer first thing in the morning. The half-hour between 7 and 7:30 a.m. were "the Lord's" - nothing was permitted to interfere with that sacred time. He would look back with awe and wonder at the leading of the God and His Word, the Bible, that Paul so many years ago had decided to trust utterly. Most wonderful for Paul Roberts was that last trip to India in 2010 to help celebrate the 100 years since the Gospel of Jesus Christ came to the savage Hmar tribe through the ministry of one man, Paul's father, Watkin Roberts. "If your father had not made that long dangerous trip through the jungle to bring us the gospel of Jesus Christ we would still be living like animals, killing each other. We used to be HEADHUNTERS. NOW WE ARE HEART HUNTERS!" they told Paul again and again as they grasped his hand and hugged him. Almost the entire tribe of 200,000 people are transformed believers, no poverty, no crime; the entire community was bustling and prosperous. The elders honored Watkin Robert's son with a Doctor of Divinity degree, wearing that magnificent hood, Paul led the Faculty parade into the Convocation Ceremonies where he gave the Convocation Address for Trinity College and Seminary. Fourteen of the graduates were earning their Masters of Ministry Degree; all were the grandchildren of headhunters. Possibly the most dramatic night of his life, the most wonderful night of his life, was the night when 6000 Hmar believers gathered in the Centennial Celebrations tent. The lights were turned off, and in total darkness and silence, as 6000 people watched in awe and gratitude, from the back of the tent Paul solemnly carried a flaming torch down the long aisle to the platform. And then in a loud voice he announced: "THE PEOPLE WHO WALKED IN DARKNESS HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT!" (Isaiah 9:2). Then Paul lit the torches of a dozen Hmar pastors who proceeded to light 6000 candles. And the massed choir burst into a melodious song written by their director, honoring Watkin Roberts who brought them the LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL! Moving and marvelous beyond words. Possibly tying that occasion for amazement was in June 2017: it was the evening of his 70th Anniversary Graduation from University of Toronto Medical School, when Paul marveled that from among the others of his class, he had been chosen to "give the charge" speech to new students. In the Great Hall of Hart House. Paul, now age 94, stood at the lectern and the years fell away: he stood there tall and straight with a young man's posture, and in a young man's strong clear voice urged these fine aspiring young people into a life of service for others. In conclusion, in this uncertain world Paul Roberts advised them to follow the wise counsel of our King George V in a New Year's Address: "I SAID TO A MAN WHO STOOD AT THE GATE OF THE YEAR: "Give me a Light that I may tread safely into the unknown". And he replied: "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light, and safer than a known way." (M.L.Haskins) And so, we bid farewell to Dr. Paul Danby Watkin Roberts, "Chosen of God to take God's healing of body, soul and spirit to the Nations." We say goodbye! But not forever. Farewell! --- dear dear Pablito. Hasta vernos en la Gloria! Until we meet again in GLORY! As Paul signed all his writings: SOLI DEO GLORIA! TO GOD ALONE BE ALL THE GLORY! (Lois Neely Roberts, wife and biographer) In lieu of flowers, please consider continuing Dr. Paul’s legacy of generosity by making a donation to Sandbox Medical CT Scan Project - Harpur Hospital in Egypt (, Children Believe - formerly Christian Children’s Fund of Canada ( or a charity that was close to Dr. Roberts' heart. Direct Links found below the obituary. Attached is the YouTube link for the video of Dr. Paul Roberts’ funeral held at Kane-Jerrett Funeral Home on Thursday, November 26, 2020. Dad died peacefully at Sunnybrook Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit on Sunday, November 22, 2020. Pastor Sandra Ryan of The Peoples Church officiated and did a wonderful service for our extended family. Dr. Paul leaves behind his 2nd wife Lois (Neely) Roberts, David and his wife Evelyn, Jim, Betsy Kikuchi and her husband Koko and his grandchildren Ryan, Jody, Katie, Lora and Amy. Dr. Paul’s first wife, Barbara Roberts, predeceased Paul in August 2008. YouTube Link: Dr. Paul Roberts Memorial Service Our family thanks Charles Price former Senior Pastor of The Peoples Church, Katerine Romero, the Consul General of Ecuador in Toronto, Isabel De Escala former Consul General of Ecuador in Toronto and Fred Witteveen, CEO of Children Believe formerly Christian Children’s Fund of Canada who sent us their condolences via video.

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