Dr. Ronald Francis Whelan

June 18, 1934 to September 18, 2020


To view the service from the Carnell Memorial Chapel on Monday, September 21, please click on the link below:



Dr. Ronald Francis Whelan passed peacefully away in the presence of his loving family on September 18, 2020, age 86 years. Ron was predeceased by his parents Captain John and Marcella Whelan, his brothers Dr. Patrick Whelan, Fr. John Whelan S.J., George Whelan and his sisters Agnes Greene and Mary Rockwell.

Leaving to mourn Ron are his loving family: wife Betty-Lou (nee Lockhart) daughter Beth and son Paul (Sarah); his ‘handsome’ well-loved grandsons Peter and William, and sister in-law Marie Whelan. Ron had many nieces and nephews who will always remember his generosity, wisdom, humour and love.

Ron was a highly respected physician and medical educator, who graduated from Dalhousie medical school in 1967. After graduation Ron returned to NL the province he dearly loved and began his career as a radiologist at St. Clare’s Mercy hospital. During Ron’s 40-year tenure at St. Clare’s, he was the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and served as the Chairman of the Board and President, of the Canadian Medical Association.

Ron was an adventurous soul, who’s extensive travel was driven by his interest in history and passion for polar exploration.  Despite Ron’s worldwide adventures which took him to all 7 continents, he spoke most fondly of his 1983 seal hunt voyage, where he was the ship’s physician aboard the Lady Johnson 11, captained by his dear friend Morrisey Johnson. Ron loved the sea, was an avid sailor, and spent many hours on conception bay in his boat “The mighty Photon.” When Ron was not sailing, golfing or playing bridge, he was often found in Holyrood, entertaining his many friends or hosting the “Holyrood history club” of which he was the founder. Ron will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.

Ron was a voracious reader and loved English literature, and he would often cite well-loved quotes.  The following words by Dylan Thomas were some of his most treasured.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Cremation has taken place. Following COVID-19 restrictions, relatives and friends may visit Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Rd. on Sunday, Sept 20th, 2020 from 2-4 and 7-9 pm. A funeral service will be held on Monday, Sept 21st, 2020 at 11:30 am from the Carnell Memorial Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Dr. Ronald Whelan’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Society of Newfoundland, 835 Topsail Road, or to The Gathering Place, 172 Military Road.



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Betty-Lou, Beth, and Paul,
Dr. Whelan was someone who lived life to the fullest, and we enjoyed being part of it. One of our happiest memories is of the sunny afternoon when Mery, at 4, took her first steps in Ron and Betty-Lou’s garden. We still remember the cheers and the whoops coming from Ron. We will miss him greatly.
Martin, Meg, Meredith, and Helen

Betty Lou & Family,
My condolences, Ron was a wonderful man, great sailor and tremendous storyteller of his many adventures.

Jim Miller

to Ron’s Family, I offer my sincerest C0ndolences , Ron was a friend, and one time my Intern at the Old General Hospital, I remember him well. He will be sadly missed. May his death be a blessing, and may the family be spared further sorrow.

So sorry for your loss. He was quite the character. I loved his stories

Betty Lou and family
John and I were so sad to hear of Ron’s passing. He was a true gentleman and mentor. We never tired of hearing his so very interesting stories. He provided great support and encouragement to me both as a resident and partner and always provided sound advice. He was a great supporter of women in a time when that was not necessarily the norm. He was a generous and kind man and of course a great golfer!
Our condolences to you and your family.
Rest in Peace Ron!

Betty Lou and family:
Please accept our condolences on the recent passing of Ron. Both at St Dunstan’s and Dalhousie, Ron always provided support, guidance and good humour as we navigated towards our ultimate goals. He particularly greatly assisted me during my first year at Dal. Fond memories will prevail, of a life lived to the full.
Dr Jim & Arlita Hickey

Dear Beth and family . So sorry to hear of your Father’s passing . I met your Dad many years ago as a young boy caddying for him at Bally Haly as he golfed with my Father . I always remembered him as such a kind and considerate man . My condolences .

Mrs. Whelan and family, Ron was, as the saying goes, a “one off”. A wonderful doctor, a very competent sailor, a passionate Newfoundlander & Labradorian, and a good friend to so many people from so many backgrounds. He was gifted with a mind that lead him to seek both experiences and facts which in turn made him a fabulous story teller. I always enjoyed time spent in Ron’s company. Ron, may all your winds be fair winds and be abaft the beam.

Betty-Lou and Family: Although the years have quickly passed, it used to be a rare Friday afternoon when Ron did not stop by my office to share a story, mostly humourous, never repetitive, filled with such a vast array of experiences. A great man, a great friend! Thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Ron was both a lovely man and a dear friend of my late father. He will be missed. May he rest in peace. My thoughts are with his friends and his family at this sad time.

Mrs Whelan, Beth and Paul,
I was so saddened to hear of Dr Whelan’s passing. I have such fond memories of spending time with your family. His storytelling, hearty laugh and genuine interest in everything and everyone around him will never be forgotten. You are all in my thoughts.

Some of my fondest memories in medical school were of heading down to review a film with Ron. Magic in those dark rooms. He was a great light and I’m sad to hear if his passing.. deepest condolences to All who loved him!

I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a very dear friend of our entire family. Memories of his smiling face and eyes and pleasant conversations will never be forgotten. You are in our thoughts and prayers. God bless

Ron was a special person. I found him so genuine. he was one of the last of the old school of doctors.
He put the patient and person first, his family second, himself third., and money last.
He was kind to me personally, at a time in my life, when I was a patient, not a doctor, that gave me the strength to carry on.He was a shining light in one of my darkest hours.
.Betty lou, paul ,Beth, he will always have a special place in my memory.

Betty-Lou, Beth and Paul: As they say, old sailors never leave they just pass by. Ron was truly one of a kind. Our family is just glad to have known him, and, for that matter, his whole family. Anne and I, in particular greatly enjoyed the time we spent with you and Ron at your home in St. John’s at one of our CMA gatherings. Of course no one can possibly replace the Awards Night at the CMA AGM’s of the past: certainly not the corporate approach now used. Woolfrey’s, Hogan’s, Whelan’s and our many other Newfie friends made our visits to St. John’s some of our most memorable experiences. But, that was the past and it was fine and happy, for the most part. Now we have to think of the future, for that indeed is what Ron would want us to do. Betty-Lou, Paul and Beth, please take care and stay safe in these perilous times. Dominus Vobiscum.

Mrs. Whelan, Beth and Paul,
We are so sorry to hear this sad news. Dr. Whelan was one of a kind and will be fondly remembered by many. He was always so interested in talking to the “younger” generation. When he was talking to you, he made you feel like you were the only person in the room. That is a gift! His kind, caring and gregarious spirit was infectious. He always left you with a smile on your face and wanting to hear more of his fabulous stories. It was evident how much he loved his work, the sea and most of all, his family. Take comfort in knowing that he was loved by many and will not be forgotten.
Thinking of you all and sending our love,
Ruth & Dave

Dear Betty Lou and Family;
Our deepest condolences to you on the loss of your beloved husband and father; Ron has touched so many of our lives in an immeasurable positive fashion that continues to deeply resonate with us today. He was a wonderful role model and mentor to all of the medical trainees lucky enough to have been guided under his watch. Ron accomplished this in a kind, caring and gregarious fashion which was a gift to us all. Not only was he a great radiologist and communicator, a true clinician`s clinician but equally as important, he treated colleagues, nurses, other co-members of the health care team and patients with the greatest respect and compassion.
I was privileged to have had Ron as my teacher and mentor during my radiology residency; he always exhibited a “joie de la vie ” and exemplified the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between work and family. His Friday lunch-time radiology teaching rounds were highly anticipated where he taught us in an egalitarian manner sprinkled with gentle humor and great stories of his many escapades. We also looked forward to the delicious edible treats that his dearest Betty-Lou had graciously prepared for us!
Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this most difficult time; may you be comforted by your loving memories of him and his wonderful legacy as he begins his next Great Adventure.
Paul and Bobbi Jeon and family

Betty-Lou, Beth and Paul,
Sorry to hear this news. Ron’s life was a life well lived, full of adventures along the way and good deeds to all whom he encountered during those adventures. I was glad to enjoy his hospitality last year during a gathering of the Historic Society at his home in Holyrood. That is a nice memory. My condolences.

Beth, Mrs. Whelan and Paul,

So very sorry for your lose. Dr. Whelan was an outstanding individual full of integrity and kindness. He was truly one of a kind. He also made enormous contributions to NL and Canada.

Thinking of you all in this tough time.


My memories and many wonderful shared moments with Ron go back to 1963 when we became fast friends at the beginning of out formal training as physicians. We kept in touch over the years and as families shared some truly great moments. I have and will treasure memories of time spent in Holyrood and also in Grand Bank with Ron and family. On the water was always time for reflection and joy. Your time here Ron has been a tremendous contribution to all those who crossed your path in your life’s journey. Many who never had the privilege to meet you have also benefited, your impact spreads far and wide. To my dear friend Betty-Lou my thoughts go out to you at this time as well as your treasured family. Love to all.

Mrs. Whelan and family,
Please accept my condolences,
Ron will be sorely missed at our card table where his quips and quotes punctuated every played hand.
Be assured he will be often remembered and fondly spoken of.

Betty-lou, Beth, and Paul/Family: Please accept my deepest sympathies from Cold Lake. I have wonderful memories of Ron’s medical insights as a Radiologist and his kindness to me both as a ‘senior’ medical student and later as a colleague at St Clare’s. I also enjoyed the ‘times’ at Marie’s with Rupert and Agnes, and Mary. I relished sitting and chatting with him at Holyrood, and sensing his effervescence as a true ‘Renaissance Man’! Ad Astra! Jim

Mrs. Whelan, Beth and Paul,
I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Whelan,. I remember him well from sailing and the Yacht Club,. Thinking of you all during this sad time. All the best, Diana Baird

Our sincerest condolences and prayers are with you all.
Dr. Whelan was a presence in our lives – through his long time friendship with our father, Ivan, and to us both during our medical training. He inspired our commitment to medical education and while busy medical students in the late 80’s, he taught us the value of work-life balance – we will always treasure the time he took us on ‘the mighty photon’ to get us away from studying. God’s speed.

Betty Lou and family: Please accept my deepest condolences on your family’s loss. Ron was a real treasure and just thinking of him brings a huge smile to my face. Someone so special will never be forgotten.

My sincere condolences to Dr. Whalen’s family and friends. I met him in 1984 as a young Nuclear Medicine Technologist and for the 8 years that I had the pleasure to be around him, he took me under his wing. He was like a father to me and I have nothing but fond memories of him. I have often had him in my thoughts for all the years since that time. He was a wonderful man that I will never forget, just like many others I’m sure. Gone but not forgotten.

Mrs. Whelan, Beth, Paul and family—
I’m so sorry to hear of Dr. Whelan’s passing. He was such a kind, gentle natured man who always made you feel welcome and hung onto your every word. I know he always held such a special place in Susan and Gabrielle’s hearts, and as an extension of them, I will remember him fondly. My heartfelt condolences to you all.

Betty Lou and family,
So sorry for your loss with Ron’s passing.
I first met Ron as a medical student when he lectured in Musculoskeletal Radiology, where his lectures were highly regarded and even legendary. He demonstrated the importance of imaging and always emphasized the most important things you should know. This certainly impacted me in pursuing a career in Radiology.
When Jennifer and I bought our first home we were delighted to find out that our neighbours would be the Whelan’s for the next 10 years.
I would learn a lot from Ron in my years in training and later as a colleague in the Radiology department at St. Clare’s.
It was sometimes difficult to get a seat in his office,
as so many stopped by for his expert opinion on a medical matter or just to chat about what was going on!
I can still hear the boisterous laughter on so many occasions.
He taught me to be hard working, reliable and compassionate.
I will always remember him.
Jennifer and Eric Pike and family

Dear Betty Lou, Beth, Paul and Family Members, On behalf of the Sisters of Mercy, I extend deepest sympathy on the death of Dr. Whelan. He was a gifted presence in the St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital community, exemplifying the values for which the Hospital stands. He blended competence in his profession with compassion for patients and solidarity with colleagues. His work was rooted in care for patients, but he knew that the system had to change if patients were to be treated properly. Therefore, he assumed significant leadership roles at St. Clare’s, in the transition to the Health Care Corporation (today’s Eastern Health), and in the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association. He was a gifted story-teller and an avid adventurer, again bringing human depth to his profession of medicine. He loved his family deeply and was generous to a fault with his friends. May all of you be comforted in knowing the legacy which Dr. Whelan’s life and spirit have imprinted on St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital, on thousands of medical students, on the provincial and federal health systems, and on the hearts of so many. May Ron rest in peace now on his newest adventure into the unknown with its promise of new life. Sister Elizabeth Davis for All the Sisters of Mercy

Dear Betty-Lou and Family,
So saddened to llearn of Ron’s passing. He left a lasting impression on all who had the privilege of knowning him and to be in his company.
Home is the sailor home from the seas.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Dorothy and Bob MacLeod

Truly a man for all seasons

To Dr. Whalen’s Family;
So saddened to hear the news today of his passing. I was one of the very fortunate ones to have sailed to the front with Dr. Whalen & Captain Morrissey Johnson onboard the MV Clayton M. Johnson in 1982. It was a trip and memory I will never ever forget. We became very close onboard and shared many wonderful stories/memories. I will forever cherish the ‘silver sealers pin’ he had personally made for the trip for each crew member. Over the years we have kept in touch and a few years back he asked me to drop by his home and let him show the pictures from the 1982 hunt to my sons and grandsons. Sadly I never did. He was truly a wonderful man. He will be missed. So proud to have said I knew him.

Fred Russell Port Union (Sealer)

To Betty Lou and family
Very very sorry to learn of Ron’s passing
He was a great man
We were always made to feel very welcome by him
It was an honour to have him as as a colleague and friend
We will miss him

Betty Lou & family
Our thoughts are with you at this time
Patricia & Suzanne Byrne

A good man / friend to have known
Condolences to Bettylou and the Whelan family.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and many friends of Doctor Whelan. I will remember him as a kind family man who led all around him with a quiet grace. Like all the Whelans, he seemed to succeed in all he did with good humour. Family, friends and faith will see all through this sad time and allow focus on a life so well lived.

So sorry to hear this news. He was such a lovely man and a real force in this community. What a life he lived and to the fullest.
Loving Thoughts to BettyLou and family

Connie Hayward.

Dr. Whelan was a true intellectual and man of learning. Wonderful warm memories of dinners with his family, especially at Christmas. Sending love and condolences to Beth and the Whelan family who so kindly opened their hearts and home to me.

Betty Lou,Beth and Paul condolences on your loss.A man who saw humour in all things and one of a group who made such an impact on medicine in the province.May he rest in peace.

Hi Betty Lou and family ,sorry about Ron’s passing ,I knew Ron when he lived in our hometown holyrood ,just a few houses up the road ,had many of interesting chats with him,a very kind and knowledgeable man ,take care you and your family ,Paul

Betty Lou, my condolences to you and Beth andPaul. Ron was such a wonderful person to have had the pleasure of knowing. I saw him often at St Clare’s when he was working and I was volunteering.. He always encouraged and supported our Auxiliary. It was a delight to have known him. My thoughts and prayers are with you all..

To Betty Lou and Family, my sincerest condolences, Ron was a wonderful Doctor, Human being, good fun, most interesting in countless areas, admired by many, am thinking of you all at this time.

I am one of Dr Whelan’s former radiology residents. I would consider him to be the greatest positive influence on my life and career. It is his voice I hear when reading out plain films. He treated us with great respect and taught us how life should be lived. He took us to fabulous places and transported us as “precious cargo”. He made us feel important when we were so clueless and new. I’m am forever indebted. Such a wonderful man! Rest In Peace , true gentleman. Thank you for being so great!

To Betty Lou, and family, so sorry to hear of Ron’s death. He was such a great friend of Jim, a support to me.. Humor, generosity, and friendship, always appreciated. I’ll never forget the voyage to Upper Island Cove, captained by Ron, with Friday dispensation.May he rest in peace

Ron had a greatness rooted in the down-to-earth. So many people knew and respected him. Not only was he the creator of our history group, he was also its soul. I will miss Ron immensely; he was a dear friend. My sincere condolences to Betty Lou and family.

My sincere condolences to the family of Ron. I first met him as a medical student at St. Clare’s. He was a great teacher, with an amazing sense of humour. I had great respect for him as a radiologist and considered him a true friend. His heart was always in the right place.
He will sorely be missed by all who knew and loved him.
Darroch Moores

My condolences to the Whelan family.
I had the privilege of working with Dr. Whelan in the Diagnostic imaging department at St .Clare’s.
He was a very kind and gentle man to both his patients and staff. If you ever needed anything, he was there to help.
May he rest in peace.

My sincere condolences to Betty Lou, Beth and Paul on Ron’s passing.
I met Ron 60 years ago at Dalhousie. We were to become fraternity brothers at Phi Chi. He was one of those few special people who are so capable of enriching your life. Ron enriched my life in many ways as one would expect. In his unique and enthusiastic way he ignited my passion for sailing. It is a passion that I have cherished and continued all my life. Many times when sailing I would remember him and feel his presence, hear his laugh, and feel his joy as the wind filled our sails, and we began to heel.
A friendship with Ron was so large it is etched in your soul.
Rest in peace my friend.

So very sorry Betty Lou. Condolences to you and your family.

Beth and family and Dr. Whelan’s cherished nieces and nephews,
My deepest condolences. So very sorry for your loss.

Thinking of Betty Lou and family at this time of sorrow.

Our sincere condolences to Betty Lou and family on Ron’s passing. Ron was one of the most interesting people I had the pleasure of knowing. He was a great story teller with many great stories to tell.He also had a great sense of humour and with his great laugh helped to really bring his stories to life. He will be missed.

To the Whelan Family. My condolences to you all. Ron was a sailing friend and competitor during our time at TNSC. My prayers are with you at this time.
Frank O’Connor

To the Whelan Family,
My condolences to you all on Ron’s passing. He was an astute clinician -happy to consult with Docs in the community, always approachable. He and my father -Dr. David Parsons. spent innumerable hours together working on NLMA and CMA business. They shared a mutual love of Newfoundland history and were members of the Medical History Group for years. My father, I think was as excited as Ron when Ron “went to the ice” and part of that legacy can be seen at the museum in Elliston. They had a great friendship. Take care
Ean Parsons

Betty-Lou, Beth and Paul,
We are thinking if you all at this time.We have beautiful memories of Ron . We will miss him.
With love,
Mairead McManamon and family.

Betty Lou, Beth and Paul, so sorry for your loss.

Dr. Whelan was always a huge presence in our family.
His weekly visits after our Dad retired were always uplifting for Dad. When we were lucky enough to drop by when Ron was there, he never failed to ask all about our lives. His laugh was unmistakeable and his generosity heartwarming. His, was a life truly well lived and he will be greatly missed.
Betty Lou, Beth and Paul, you are are in our thoughts and hearts, especially at this time.

Sherri(Kean) and Andy Miller

Betty–Lou, Beth and Paul,
Our deepest sympathy to you and all your family.,
It was always a pleasure to be in Ron’s company and enjoy his interesting stories and his wit.
He will be missed.
Our sincere condolences,
Fred and Sandra Rowe

To the Whelan Family
We are saddened to hear of Ron’s passing. We have many wonderful memories of Ron and Family out around the Yacht Club and sailing in Conception Bay. He was a delightful adventurer and a great Newfoundlander. He will be greatly missed. We extend to the Whelan family our most sincere condolences.

We send our heartfelt condolences to you, Betty Lou and your family on the passing of Ron.
I spent many wonderful times with Ron on and off the golf course.
He was always a gentleman and we shall miss his spirit and humour.
May he rest in peace.
Douglas and Kathryn Mason

Ron was at once an eminent physician, a wise counselor and a trusted friend. His leadership and mentor-ship skills in our profession were widely recognized. I experienced and appreciated his ability to befriend and console during my own periods of grief. He was a trusted friend with humor and empathy who was quite capable of calling with a “lets go sailing” message on what would otherwise be a working afternoon. His contribution to our profession will be recognized for years to come. Condolences to Betty Lou, Beth and Paul and the innumerable friends. Rest peacefully my friend.

I met Dr WHelan when I came back and retrained after leaving X-ray for many years..I really admired the man.HE treated everyone with respect no matter what their job title was.I had a friend who was sick and asked him if he could do,a Gi on her..HIs reply was any friend of yours is a friend of mine.That was him..HE definitely left this place a better one .

I had many opportunities to work with Dr. Whelan when I worked in the Lab at St. Clare’s. He was very kind, gentle and we had many chats about the ocean, boats and wildlife. He donated some beautiful photos to Xray and they still are there today. Over the many years since I retired we met occasionally and he always had a word or two about the old days at St. Clare’s. He will be remembered very fondly. Sue

My sincere condolences Mrs. Whelan, Beth, and Paul. Dr. Whelan was a huge presence in our family home. Monday visits with my father were always something
Dad looked forward to. His stories and conversation never disappointed, and he often left driving out the driveway with country music blaring. He was a great man.

Dr. Whelan lived life to the fullest…that was an inspiration for all who knew him. I found his adventures beat a path for me. In a world of too few he was a truly good man and will have influenced so many. I hope your family takes comfort in the many who loved him.

With our heartfelt sympathy.
You are in our hearts and prayers at his time.

My condolences to the family on Dr. Whelan’s passing. Known for his generosity to the staff that he worked with, I got to see this for myself when I started working at St. Clare’s 32 years ago. Christmas was a special time in Diagnostic Imaging, and the season would not be complete without a gift of a beautiful corsage that was given by Dr. Whelan to each of the ladies in the department.

Jump ahead to 10 years ago when I began my position as a clinical instructor. One day I was taking the students on a tour of the hospital when I happened to bump into Dr. Whelan. He stopped and said hello and wished them all the best. He then proceeded to tell them that I “would not steer them the wrong way”. His words really meant a lot and I have not forgotten them. It is a sad day for those of us who worked with Dr. Whelan. His memory will live on.

To Betty Lou,Beth & Paul.We we’re so sad to hear the news of Ron’s passing.Over the last 50 years or so I have had the privilege of not only having a professional relationship with Ron but also becoming good fiends.and enjoying many great times fishing in Labrador .I will always remember Ron’s story telling and his great sense of humour.His ability to tell jokes and laugh just as hard or harder then the people who were listening.I will never forget how he always made himself available to help anybody who needed help.He was truly an outstanding person who lived a full life and did just about everything a person could do from flying in hot air balloons to completing Scott’s expedition..He loved sailing and he loved his summer house in Holyrood.I will miss him dearly and know that his family have many great memories to help them get through this difficult time.
Don & Dorothy Warr

My condolences to Betty Lou , Beth and Paul! I worked with Dr. Whalen for 30 years, he was a very kind and gentle man. He will be missed.

One is lucky to have a sincere and respectful friend that is always there for you. I was the lucky guy and Ron was truly my great friend. We had many good times and adventures together over many years. I shall miss him terribly but I know he has gone to a well deserved rest. God Speed dear friend.
My sincere condolences to Betty Lou, Beth and Paul.

I had the great pleasure of training as a radiology resident under Dr Whelan at St. Clare’s between 1998-2001 and it was always a pleasure to be in his company. He was such a positive spirit and he always had a big smile and told the best stories. His Friday radiology rounds were legendary for films, food and drink. He was like everyone’s Dad and we all appreciated his kindness and endless support. He was kind enough to let me take over his position at St. Clare’s after I finished my training and returned to St. John’s. and I will always be grateful to him for that.

A life well lived- that was Dr. Whelan’s legacy. My deepest and sincerest sympathy to Betty Lou and his family.