Elizabeth Hillman, OC, MD, LLD, FAAP, FRCP (née Sloman)

February 17, 1928 to August 9, 2020

Obituary

Passed away peacefully in the home of her daughter Dr. Alison Hillman in Newfoundland. Her memory will be cherished by children Alison, Jamie (Joanne Scarlett), Don (Ruth Kipp), Alan, Elizabeth (Paul Coxworthy), grandchildren Adam Coxworthy and James Purvis, sister Toby Rainey and sister-in-law Elizabeth Waterston plus many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, friends and mentees around the world. Predeceased by husband Donald, parents Cela and Fred, and siblings Bill, Joan (Reid) and Margaret.

Always a trailblazer, she became the first female president of the Medical Council of Canada in 1981. She and her husband were appointed Officers of the Order of Canada in 1994 for having “consistently used their talents and energy to improve the welfare of children throughout the world.”

Born in Clinton, Ontario, Liz spent her school years with her family in a railway car that was their home and also a mobile schoolhouse. Her parents, Fred and Cela Sloman taught their children along with the families of trappers, miners and railway workers, many of whom were recent immigrants, as the CNR School on Wheels moved through Northern Ontario from Capreol to Foleyet. This was Liz’s only school until she entered the University of Western Ontario. Liz received the Girl Guides’ highest honour, the Gold Cord, from Lady Baden Powell, who was on a Canadian tour. When she was eight years old, Liz told her father she was going to be a doctor; she never wavered in her dream.

Liz completed her MD in 1951 and received postgraduate training at UWO, McGill, Great Ormond Street in London, Harvard, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. While interning in Boston in 1955, she married a fellow paediatrician from Montreal, Donald Hillman. She began her professional career in 1957 at McGill University as Director of the Ambulatory Department at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Liz and Don worked as a formidable team for 51 years until Don’s death in 2006.

In 1969 the family, now including 5 children under 13 years old, headed to Africa, where Liz and Don spent two years at the newly established medical school at the University of Nairobi and the Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya; the family returned for another two years from 1974 to ’76. After twenty years at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University, the Hillmans moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where Liz was professor of paediatrics at Memorial University and Director of Ambulatory Education at the Janeway Child Health Centre. Liz and Don continued to work with the Canadian International Development Agency during the 1970s and 80s on projects that included the Child and Maternal Education Program in Uganda; programs in primary paediatric healthcare in Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda and Kenya; and medical education in Kenya and Uganda.

From centres for international health based at McMaster and the University of Ottawa in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Hillmans helped to develop international health education for undergraduates and postgraduates, on projects in Guyana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, and the Philippines, Uganda, and elsewhere. Liz and Don were also pioneers in the field of telehealth, including using the internet to add international expertise and resources to medical education and care in developing countries.

During all these years, Liz’s anchor was the small cottage in the Laurentians where she spent happy summers with family and friends, and welcomed many students and colleagues. She loved cats and dogs and could – and often did – read a book a day. She was an early enthusiast and devotee of email, sending encouraging messages and vivid descriptions of the world she took such joy in sharing.

The list of her awards is long and includes the CPS Alan Ross Award (1989), the Royal College James H. Graham Award (1995), the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Canadian Society for International Health (2000) and n honorary doctorate of laws degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland (2004). After Don’s death in 2006, awards to honour the Hillmans were created at UBC, McGill, Memorial, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and the Canadian Society For International Health. In 2011 Liz received the first Hillman-Olness Award for Lifetime Service and Lasting Contributions to Global Child Health from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on International Child Health, and in 2014 she was made an Honorary Member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Her message to the students and doctors she mentored was a simple one: “Nothing ever turns out as you expect, and you must enjoy every minute together.” She had that same message for her friends.

Liz Hillman devoted her life to promoting the health and well-being of children and to inspiring others to do the same. In the 1970s she battled Nestlé when the corporation was promoting infant formula over breastfeeding in developing countries. This campaign led to hearings in the US Senate and the World Health Organization, resulting in a new set of marketing rules.

She mentored several generations of young doctors around the world, encouraging a balance of family and professional life, often with fun and laughter. And daughter Alison followed her parents into the medical field. Liz summed up the challenge of Global Child Health work, saying: “There is always more to be done and never enough time to do it all – which is why we must teach others.”

After Don’s death, and as advancing dementia dimmed Liz’s bright spark, family, friends and many others formed a circle of care and kindness to support her continued well-being and quiet enjoyment of life, which included travel and time at the cottage.

In honour of her late husband, Liz Hillman established the Hillman Medical Education Fund to support health education and to foster future leaders in medicine, particularly in East Africa. Donations in memory of Liz Hillman may be made to https://www.rosecharities.ca/category/hillman-fund/.

A celebration of Liz’s life will be held at a later date.

 

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Dr.Alison Hillman & the Hillman Family …
Please accept Our Sincere Condolences on the Passing of your Mother . After reading her Obituary it gave us a Small Glimpse of the Amazing Life both she and Your Dad had Endeavoured….Keep those Wonderful Memories Close to Your Hearts …May she Rest In Peace .

Michael , Rynette & Joyce

Dr Hillman
So sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. I met her once in your office and she seemed like a lovely lady. Condolences to you and your family.

Tara Kavanagh

Dear Alison, Jamie, Don, Alan, and Elizabeth
My condolences to you all. Your parents were very special people in my life as teachers at MCH in the early 1970’s. Liz later became a mentor and an inspiration.as leaders in global health in Uganda. As a former president of the CPS Section on Global Health, I was asked to write a note of remembrance about Liz, to help others know what a remarkable and wonderful person she was.
May she rest in peace.

May she rest in peace.

Dear Hillmans,
My family and I have many happy memories of Aunt Liz, especially from the cottage in Quebec. The first time my husband met her, she was flying her old bicycle over the hilly and tortuous road at the cottage with great joy and abandon. She had come to meet us! He was so impressed with her apparent fearlessness and good humour.
Aunt Liz was always a great favourite with my children when they were young, due to her kindness and unique outlook. She was encouraging to me in my education, and was a great source of parenting advice. I really think that Aunt Liz helped and cared for every single person she came into contact with. She will be remembered with great fondness and admiration.
Our condolences to Don Jr., Alison, Elizabeth, Alan, Jamie, Toby, and the rest of the family.
Suzanne and Jim Telford

To Liz, Alison , Paul and the Hillman family,
I am sorry to hear of your mom’s passing.
I have fond memories of her as a teenager! I always knew her as Liz’s mom , spending a lot of time hanging out at their home.
She had a beautiful, warm smile and was always kind to Liz’s friends.
In later years, visiting her office at the Janeway, and seeing all of the great things she has done in Pediatric care, I feel she inspired me to become the pediatrician that I have enjoyed as a career.
My thoughts are with you.
Your mother made this world a better place.
Rest In Peace.
All the best,
Mike

My most vivid memory of Dr. Liz is of her sitting on the steps to the basement, where Liz Jr’s friends congregated after school. She would chat for a bit and beam at us all benevolently – clearly pleased to welcome a gang of teenagers into her home – and I felt that, whatever happened, we all had her blessing. Heartfelt condolences to her family and all those who are missing her.

I had the privilege of meeting Elizabeth Hillman both at MUN and at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. What an inspiration she was! A truly wonderful person and a wonderful life.
My condolences to the family.

Dorothy Moore MD

Condolences to Elizabeth and the rest of your family on the loss of your second remarkable parent. Both made a great contribution to medicine and medical education in Canada, including MUN Medical School.. ..I remember their advice to my husband (Ian Bowmer) when he was going on sabbatical to Nairobi – and their thoughtful phone call to me during a coup attempt, to say this was not unusual and that, in any case, the factions would be shooting each other, not non-Africans!. Not to worry! Later Ian followed in your mother’s footsteps as President of the Medical Council..

I have many happy memories of working with Elizabeth Hillman at Montreal Children’s Hospital in the 1970’s – she was one of the people who made me want to choose paediatrics as a career.

Liz was one of the first mentors I had when I came to MCH as a resident in 1960. She was kind but tough. When I had my first child, she insisted that my husband and I went away for a weekend whilst she took care of our baby. That was a typical thoughtful act. She was very approachable and actually provided supervision in the outpatient clinics when there were no assigned staff to monitor the residents. She was an exceptional person.
My condolences to the family .

Alison, so sorry to hear of your Mom’s death. What a truly remarkable woman who left an inspiring legacy. So sorry I didn’t get to meet her and your Dad during my visit to Malaysia while they were there. Meeting them would have been an honour. Sincere condolences. John Connors.

Dear Alison, Elizabeth and family. We were saddened to hear of Liz/s recent passing but were comforted to know that she died with such comfort and grace and with love surrounding her.
We treasure our time as friends and neighbours in the Pine Bud condo – our shared teas and rich conversations with her beloved Gray nearby. We even convinced her to share her life story with young women at a Women in Science and Engineering event and all of us were enthralled. What a rich legacy she, and Don, have left to communities around the world.
We extend our condolences to you all with love, Carolyn and Gloria

I didn’t know Dr. Elizabeth Hillman, but reading about her I can see that she was a truly remarkable person and physician. My condolences to Dr. Alison Hillman and the rest of the family.

Dr. Hillman, I was so sorry to hear about the passing of your dear mother. May she rest in peace. Thinking of you during this difficult time.

Dear Liz,Paul and Adam,
We are all so sad to hear about your loss..When we first came to Memorial, Eiizabeth was an inspiration for all the young, professional women who wanted to continue their careers and build a family life in Newfoundland.Mike and I remember many happy conversations with Elizabeth and Don at the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club .Their dedication to their work ,the community and their family testified to their sterling values.
We are thinking of you all at this sad time and send our love,

Annette,Michael,Victoria,Alice and James. Staveley.

Mes plus sincères sympathies à toute la famille,
J’ai eu le bonheur et l’honneur de fréquenter Mme Hillman comme voisine de lac au chalet, depuis toujours. Dans mon cœur, elle avait une place spéciale réservée aux personnages mythiques, plus grands que nature.
C’était une très grande dame; toujours de bonne humeur, accueillante, généreuse et ouverte aux autres.
Il est clair qu’elle a eu un impact majeur sur plusieurs vies tant au niveau personnel que professionnel.
Elle va nous manquer au lac Stevens xxx

Dr Hillman
I’m so sorry to hear of your moms passing. You spoke of her many times and I got the privilege of meeting her. She was such a sweet lady.
My sincere condolences.
Susan Hayes

Elizabeth, so sorry to read of your mother’s death. We send love and virtual hugs. Condolences to you, Paul, Adam and the Hillman family.
Janet and John

My condolences to Dr. Hillman’s family. I was privileged to get to know Liz at the University of Ottawa and to benefit from her warm friendship and wise counsel.
Denise Alcock

I am saddened to hear of Dr Elizabeth’s passing , I had the privilege to meet her and Dr Don during their involvement in the delivery of health education at the Janeway and their subsequent visits to Memorial with Dr. House to partner their international work with the Telemedicine Center .

Her involvement, along with Dr Don , in our activities at the Centre were most rewarding as Dr Elizabeth always showed great interest in what we doing , what technologies were being applied in telemedicine and distance education and how to use these in advancing healthcare delivery in Africa and elsewhere .

We proudly worked together on several highly successful international telemedicine projects over the years . Success reflective of Dr Elizabeth’s always positive and enthusiastic approach on working together and helping others.

Dr Elizabeth and Don Hillman were humble world leaders in their field, as down to earth individuals and as like minded a couple as one could have ever have the most good fortune to meet.

My sincere condolences to the Hillman family .

Michael Mooney

We always called Elizabeth, Elizabeth MD and sometimes just MD. She lived with my family while she went to medical school at Western. Her room and board was covered by looking after me, Martha Murray and my sister Alison. Our parents, Ken and Libby Murray adored her and kept in touch for years. MD’s sister Margaret looked after my first born in the early 80’s commuting from Clinton..
Such fond memories of the Slomans.

So sorry to hear of Dr. Hillman’s passing. Dr. Hillman became my mother’s doctor when her physician had to take medical leave and Dr. Hillman filled in for his practice. What a blessing she was to my Mom. She was a caring, kind and very knowledgeable doctor and we always thought that had she been Mom’s primary physician, Mom would not have passed at such a young age. Mom passed away in her sleep at home on Regatta Day many years ago but Dr. Hillman, who was at the pond watching the morning races, came to the house and filled out all the paperwork. Thank you again, Dr. Hillman, for the care you provided all your patients, I am sure. Rest in peace.

Elizabeth Sloman was my friend. We met in Clinton as children. The adults had banished us noisy kids to the upstairs part of the house where we all played together, and the rest is “history”. After that, we often joined the Sloman family on trips to Lake Huron. I will always remember staying with her during Expo 67 in Montreal. I was happy that my children had a chance to meet her children. The family has my sympathy in her passing. Her memory will remain with me as long as I live.

Aug 18, 2020
It is with profound sadness to learn about the passing away of my favorite mentor Liz Hillman. Liz played a crucial role in my life when she introduced me to my career at the university of Ottawa in the nineties. She was always the light at the end of the tunnel to many immigrant physicians including me. Donald and Liz teachings, guidance, support and compassion will never be lost. My sincere condolences and sympathies to her family. May the merciful, and compassionate God bless her sole with forgiveness and mercy.

Allison and family,
Your parents both taught me in medical school. I was impressed and perhaps a little astonished when they presented their work in other countries. I recall vividly a presentation when Dr. Elizabeth taught us about the situation they had found in China about 1980. She pointed out both the good and questionable treatment of children there. The topic of one child per family came up and she explained that because that law would result in a shortage of women, it would only last one generation. Two decades later, I was pleased but not surprised to learn that women were then prized in China because there were so few of them. I was again astonished by Dr. Elizabeth Hillman’s wisdom and ability to see the world order so clearly. May she rest in peace..

While I only met Dr. Hillman briefly many years ago, I read with great interest her many accomplishments during her life time. My condolences to the entire family on the passing of your mother and grandmother. While sad to see her go, I’m sure there are many wonderful memories and life lessons to give you strength and comfort you.

To the family of Elizabeth and Don,

So sorry for your loss! I worked with Elizabeth and Don in promoting breastfeeding in the province. What a power couple! Elizabeth was indefatigable, with the energy and drive of ten people, always so sharp and quick-minded, so knowledgeable and so humble, letting other people shine. She talked with me a lot about her children – the 4 a.m. breakfasts so kids could do swim practice at the Aquarena and she and Don could make it for 7 a.m. rounds at the Janeway! Elizabeth was one of those people that leave an indelible mark in those who cross her path. Clinical practice, research and leadership, always with great enthusiasm and good humour. A great example for physicians, for women and for everybody else.

Elena Hannah, St. John’s

To the Hillman family, I had the good fortune to meet Liz and Don as a medical student at McMaster and paediatric resident in Ottawa. I will always remember Liz as an incredibly vivacious, kind, inspiring and brilliant person and doctor.. Sending you my deepest condolences at this difficult time.

Dear Allison & siblings,

Cynthia, my elder sister and a Prof. of Engineering at MUN forwarded your dear mother’s obituary. Her life touched so many people. I remember her exuberance and great kindness when we were chums at Montreal West High School. Dr. Elizabeth has left a remarkable legacy., a life well lived. With condolences and loving greetings,

Pat Coles
Campbell River

Liz, please accept our sincere condolences on the passing of your Mom. From reading her Obituary, she was such an accomplished woman, reached out to the world and passed on her wisdom to so many others. She will be remembered for a long time to come.
Dinah and Fred Anstey

Dr. Allison Hillman and family, Our sincere condolences on the passing of your mother. Thinking of you during this difficult time.

Liz, Paul and Adam,

So sorry for your loss. Grandma was a bright light and, I’m sure, will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.

LIz and family,
Please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of your beloved Mom. My thoughts and prayers are with you all!

Liz and Paul,

My sincere condolences on the passing of you Mom.

J. Paul Walsh

Allison and family, I will always remember you mother as an advocate for Women in medicine and a wonderful paediatrician. She was always an inspiration for me.

Dear Allison, Liz and Don and families.
Saddened to hear of demise of your mom. She was my teacher at Nairobi Medical School and its through them that I ended up in Newfoundland and our new home for last thirty five years plus. Both your dad and mom were my mentors.
We lots of fun times in Kenya and whenever they visited Nairobi while on assignment in Uganda. Of late had met her in St.John’s at Liz’s place before you dad passed away.
Heart felt condolences but she did a lot for the developing countries and education of medical students and residents in Pediatrics.
May her soul rest in eternal peace.
Surya

My deepest condolences to the Hillman family at this difficult time. I’ve worked for Memorial for over 10 years and never made the connection that Dr. Elizabeth Hillman was Dr. Allison Hillman’s Mom. Warm thoughts to you Dr. Hillman, we are thinking of you.

The Roberts Family (Patients of Dr. Allison Hillman)

So sorry for your loss. She was kind and thoughtful and an inspiration to many. My mother thought very highly of her

It is with much sadness that I have learned of Dr. Elizabeth’s passing. As a Nursing Instructor at the Janeway Children‘S Hospital , for fifteen years, I had many occasions to discuss children’s health care. With Dr. Elizabeth. . She always had a kind word to say when interacting with people. My condolences to her family and may her memories be a blessing to them.

Deepest condolences to Dr. Hillman’s family and friends. I met both The Hillmans through the Janeway. and it was a pleasure to work with them.

Dr. Hillman interviewed me for medical school. I told her about my goals of becoming a Pediatrician, which I have since accomplished, and I continue to be inspired by all she accomplished in her life.
Deepest condolences.

My sincere condolences to Liz, Paul and all the Hillman family. I took great pleasure in reading the wonderful obituary… what an incredible woman and life lived. May Your mother Rest In Peace.

So very sorry for your loss my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this very sad time your Mom was a very special lady, and certainly had a very interesting life, RIP Mrs Hillman

Dr. Hillman,

Please accept my sincere condolences to you, Jamie, Don, Alan and Elizabeth on the loss of your mother. She was a wonderful woman. I enjoyed the times that I was fortunate enough to spend with you, your mother and other friends. I know that she was a wonderful mother to you and your siblings. I shall always treasure the fact that you and she shared so much about her life, with me. And I loved seeing her sweet drawings in her notes and letters, that had so much love in them for all of you.
She was so kind to me. I loved her and I will miss her. Her smile was infectious. I was pleased to learn that she was at your home, with so much love surrounding her, when she passed. God bless.

Dr. Alison Hillman and family,

My condolences to you on the loss of a wonderful, warm-hearted, caring and giving person. I had the good fortune of working with your mom during the summer after first year of medicine at McGill at the MCH. We worked on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I had no place to sit and she set up a desk space in her office by her side! She inspired me to go on to an academic career. Always full of great ideas and enthusiasm. She will be missed. May your good memories, family and friends be a source of support.

Alison & family. So sorry for your loss. Knew both your parents from the Janeway.. They were a delight to be around., & awesome to me, a young lady starting her career.. I had lots of chats with your
mom, especially on baby health. Sweet lady…….loved her BIG smile., blessed to have known her…
Sincere condolences.
Ros

Dr Hillman

Condolences on the loss of such a beautiful lady. I always enjoyed our lunches together. Sending my thoughts and prayers

Annie Power

To the Hillman family. I knew your Mom from my time as a pediatric nurse at JCHC. She was an inspiration to many of us ,a kind and caring person. .I shall always remember her beautiful smile.

Alison,
So sorry to hear of the passing of your dear mother, she was an inspiring woman and will surely be missed by all who loved her. Our heartfelt condolences to you and your entire family.

Alice and Earl George
Michelle Noftall

Dr. Alison, Elizabeth and the Hillman family. My condolences on the lose of your mother. I had the honor to meet her and your dad after they received their honourary degrees from Memorial University. I hope the memories of all the good times you had together will help you through this difficult time.

Dear Liz, Paul, Adam ,
Olivier and I send our sincere condolences to you and your entire family. I have so many vivid happy memories of your mom way back when I was living in St. John’s. I was so glad to have dropped in to see you last January.

Dear Elizabeth, Adam, and Paul:
We have very fond memories of meeting and sharing a pew with you and your dear mom at St. Thomas’ Church a few years ago. She was the epitome of warmth, grace, and humility. It was always a pleasure to be in her company. May your many treasured memories bring you peace and comfort with time.

Dear Elizabeth,
So sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. Please accept my deepest sympathy.
Tony Chadwick

Dear Elizabeth and Paul,

My condolences on the passing of Elizabeth’s Mom. Her marvellous accomplishments will enrich your memories of her.

Gus Lilly

Elizabeth and family,
We were saddened to learn of your Mother’s passing. What a truly exemplary life she lived. It was a joy to see her lovely smiling face at Church each Sunday. May you know God’s peace as you call to mind fond memories of her beautiful life.
Bob and Eleanor

To the Hillman family:
I first met your mother as a newly graduated psychologist in my first professional position at Montreal Childrens’ Hospital, Outpatient Department. She inspired me with confidence in my own abilities and with such warmth, enabled me to start my career with confidence. Her contribution to the world of medicine, children, and medical education was immense. Her legacy will remain. She will be greatly missed.. My condolences to you all.

Marilen Picard-Gerber

I knew your mum and dad from my time as a pediatric resident at the MCH. They were great teachers and I learned so much about care and compassion for children and their families in our bustling ER and outpatient area. From all those children and families in Quebec, Newfoundland, Africa and countless physicians like me who were privileged to have been their students thank you.
Morrison Hurley

Allison, Sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. She was an amazing person, by all accounts. My condolences to you & your family.

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your dear mother. Please accept our condolences. John and Diane Rideout

Our fondest memory of Liz and Don was a trip we took with them in February 1999 from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay to visit their South African friends, John and Joy Hansen. Liz and Don were taking a break from their evaluation of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town and we were enjoying a six-month sabbatical at the University of Cape Town. They were great company on the trip and we were in awe of how Liz carried all her travel needs in one small satchel. Despite their well-earned international prestige, their life-style was closer to that of the people they served. May they rest in peace.

I had the pleasure of knowing her along with her husband. I worked at the Janeway and got to know them both, very, very pleasant couple. My condolences to the family. Loosing any family member is very hard .

Elizabeth and Family, Jeanette and I were deeply saddened to hear of your dear mother‘s passing . Her radiant smile welcomed everyone she met Sunday morning at St . Thomas’ . Her life of service to human kind in the field of medicine was outstanding.
May God Bless you as you celebrate the life of your precious mother . “ Well done , good and faithful servant”Matthew 25:21
Pester & Jeanette Harvey
Langley, B C to

To all her family, She was such a wonderful, sweet person. We so looked forward to seeing her beautiful face at St. Thomas’s Church. May She Rest In Peace..

It was truly a pleasure to have known your Mom, she was a kind, gentle and caring lady who always greeted you with a beautiful smile. My condolences to all the family.

Dr Hillman so story to hear about the passing of your mom..She was remarkable woman my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
God Bless.

To Dr. Alison and family,
My deepest condolences on the loss of your Mom.

I had the privilege of working with Dr Hillman for one Summer at the Janeway Children’s Hospital. I could not have asked for a more kind and thoughtful person to work for.. I was her Secretary, she treated me as an equal. Beautiful .Lady. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

To Dr. Allison and family: My deepest condolences on the loss of your mom.

To Dr. Alison Hillman and Family our condolences on the loss of your mother. We are thinking of you at this sad time.

Alison and family,
Such a truly beautiful woman. The world has lost one of its brightest stars. My heartfelt condolences to all Dr. Hillman’s family whom she loved and who loved her. May her beautiful spirit soar.

What a beautiful tribute to an obviously beautiful woman. I wish I would have known her.