338 - 4th Avenue North | Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 2L7
Obituary of Ivan Jen
Dr. Ivan Jen
01 May 1932 – 14 November 2023
The family of Dr. Ivan Jen announces his passing on 14 November 2023 at Royal University Hospital with his adoring daughter Leslie by his side.
Born on 01 May 1932 in Hong Kong, the youngest of Su Lin Jen and Jim Kow Jen’s four children, Ivan endured much hardship in his early years. As a young boy during World War II, Ivan’s life and schooling were severely disrupted from constantly evading the brutality of the Japanese army, moving peripatetically from Hong Kong to the family’s ancestral village to Guangzhou as required for survival. He was raised solely by his devoted mother, as the cruelty of enforced separation through the Chinese Exclusion Act (1923-1947) prohibited wives and children from uniting with husbands and fathers working in Canada. Ivan did not meet his own father until 1951, when he was finally allowed to immigrate to Saskatchewan to join him at the café he had owned and operated in Eatonia for several decades.
Ivan’s parents knew that education was critical to a successful life in Canada, and encouraged and supported their son in his academic pursuits. Despite culture shock and the initial language barrier, Ivan persevered and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Science in 1957 and a Doctor of Medicine in 1960 – in the same class as his wife, Suzanne Yip.
Following graduation, Ivan opened a general family practice in Mount Royal, then joined Dr. Howard Hart’s downtown practice in the MacMillan Building on 21st Street East. He again went out on his own, this time in the Medical Arts Building, eventually inviting younger family physicians and mentees Dr. Vicki Holmes and Dr. Joe Chin to join him. Ivan’s keen interest in dermatology spurred him to undertake further specialized training in Toronto, and his practice evolved to focus primarily on the treatment of skin diseases – in an office located for decades in the Investors Building at 402 21st Street East – until his retirement in 2006.
In complement to his medical practice, Ivan served as President of St. Paul’s Hospital Staff Association and President of the Saskatoon Medical District Society. A commitment to continuing medical education meant that he frequently took to the road with colleagues, visiting numerous communities throughout the province to teach and share with other physicians the knowledge gleaned from many years of practice. In recognition of his efforts, Ivan received an Award of Merit from the University of Saskatchewan for outstanding contributions to continuing medical education, supplementing an Award of Merit from the College of Family Physicians of Canada (Saskatchewan chapter) for his services as an outstanding teacher.
Despite a career based in science and medicine, Ivan possessed a cultivated, sensitive and artistic spirit that found expression in his sizeable collection of art – much of which has since been gifted to the Mendel Art Gallery and Remai Modern. The collecting impulse began in the early days of Ivan and Suzanne’s marriage; it was unusual enough for one of them to possess a predilection for modern art and design, but that both shared the same interest and taste was a happy circumstance. Large abstract paintings, drawings and sculptures lived comfortably in and around the home, bringing Ivan great joy and satisfaction – an added bonus being that he fulfilled his commitment to supporting local and Western Canadian artists.
A man of principle, Ivan always believed in giving back to his community. The generosity of his spirit in everyday interactions with people from all walks of life was reflected in his many acts of philanthropy. Throughout his life, Ivan – along with Suzanne – made frequent and substantial donations to various local organizations and charities, including all three Saskatoon hospital foundations, the University of Saskatchewan, Remai Modern, Saskatoon Community Foundation, United Way, Meewasin Valley Authority, and many others. Ivan and Suzanne were jointly recognized by a University of Saskatchewan Alumni Award in 2018, honouring their outstanding contributions to the medical profession, the artistic community, and more broadly as generous philanthropists.
Ivan leaves a remarkable legacy: he touched all who met him with warmth and kindness. Family was the focus of Ivan’s life, and a better husband and father there never was. The consummate nurturer, his gentle demeanour and sweet smile could light up a room, and he made all those around him feel welcome and loved. His melodious voice and unhurried cadence of speech were soothing balm to the ears of anyone who had the pleasure of listening to him speak.
Dad could always make everything better, even in his later years when his health faltered and he was robbed of the autonomy and mobility he previously enjoyed. It was a gift to spend nearly every day of the last few years of Dad’s life together, and an honour to care for him during this time when he faced so many significant health challenges. He is achingly missed and we will remember him always with so much love.
Ivan was predeceased by his parents, Jim Kow Jen and Su Lin Jen, sister Hing Lai, and brothers Ming and Bing. He is survived by his wife Suzanne, son Stephen (Cindy and Hannah), and daughter Leslie, siblings-in-law Yvonne Yip (Larry) and Raymond Yip, along with numerous nieces and nephews – notably Eva Wong (Jimmy) and Edna Jen Warrington (Lorne) to whom we are indebted for their tender loving care.
The family gratefully acknowledges the unwavering support and guidance of family friend Dr. Rob Basi, and is thankful for the physicians who cared for Ivan in recent years – Drs. Brandon Suen, Otto Moodley, Jawed Akhtar, Megan Surkan, Luke Thiel and Paul Masiowski. We would also like to express our appreciation for the nurses and staff of Unit 5100 at Royal University Hospital.
In lieu of flowers and in Ivan’s spirit of philanthropy, the family encourages you to make a memorial donation to the Royal University Hospital Foundation by telephone or email at 306.655.1984 and email@example.com, or to a charity of your choice.
A celebration of Ivan’s extraordinary life will take place in spring 2024; a detailed announcement will be made closer to the date.
Dependable. Committed. Compassionate.
338 - 4th Avenue North
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 2L7
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