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Alexander William Ashenhurst

Father, brother, family physician, sportsman.Born Oct. 31, 1940, in Toronto, diedJan. 20, 2012, in Georgetown, Ont., in a house fire, aged 71.

Alex's father was a physician, and Alex followed in his footsteps. He always described himself as a simple, old-time country doctor, but at his funeral he was remembered as "a renaissance man."

Alex started his schooling as a day student at Upper Canada College, but switched to Humberside Collegiate for his secondary education. He loved the public system, especially the fact he could relate to the teachers his sisters had spoken about.

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He became an ardent swimmer, which led to summer employment as a swimming director at Camp Pine Crest in Muskoka, a role he maintained while attending medical school.

Always planning ahead, Alex befriended a nurse while he was interning in Toronto, and suggested she apply as the camp's nurse, setting up a ready made date for the summer. As it turned out, they broke up before camp started. (She still came to camp, though, and ended up marrying the out-trip director.)

Alex graduated in medicine from the University of Toronto, and at 24 was launched into healing, specifically family practice. Initially he worked in Port Credit, Ont., but after a few months settled in Georgetown, Ont. It was a growing community, and he also was well aware that his ancestors had originally settled in the area.

He retired from his family practice in 2006, and became a full-time surgical assistant in Etobicoke, Brampton and Georgetown, replacing hips, knees and shoulders.

Alex's first house in Glen Williams, Ont., had an idyllic location on the Credit River. It was old, and needed new plumbing, electrical wiring and floors. While running a full medical practice, Alex managed to plumb the entire house and install a low-voltage relay system, all during his lunch hours, evenings and weekends. He also refinished and reinstalled the original pine boards.

He was also a private pilot. I recall several trips to the local airport in his treasured Lotus, travelling at a greater speed in the car than in the plane.

He loved whitewater canoeing and went on several expeditions down the Dumoine River in Quebec. He was a train nut, and more than half of his basement was set aside for his track set-up.

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I suppose the train bug was planted by our father, who would take Alex, me and our two sisters to Toronto's rail yards to watch the steam locomotives.

Alex was never one to preach on the value of education. His subtle method was to leave books on science, history and politics lying about the house. With the support of his wife, Judy, his two boys James and Andrew both graduated from university – James with a PhD in chemistry, Andrew with a law degree.

Alex believed in maintaining strong family ties, and he and Judy organized the annual Ashenhurst reunion at their Georgetown home. The celebration grew from 18 people the first year to more than 45 last summer.

Alex died in a tragic fire at home.

He possessed a remarkable intellect, and his interests were wide-ranging and informed. He will be missed.

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