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Born: Jul 20, 1930

Date of Passing: Oct 09, 2021

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Donald Frederick Besant, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, cousin, uncle, and friend passed away peacefully at Riverview Health Centre on October 9, 2021, at the age of 91 years.
Born in Winnipeg on July 20, 1930, Donald was the first of William and Lilian Besant's five children. He married the love of his life, Edith Ammeter, in 1953. They were inseparable for over 70 happy years, best friends to each other, and generous to everyone they knew.
Donald graduated from Norwood Collegiate Institute. He then went on to graduate from the University of Manitoba with a Doctor of Medicine, and obtained a L.M.C.C. (1954), a Certificate in Pediatrics (1958), and a Fellowship in Pediatrics (1973) from the Royal College of Physicians (Canada).
Donald belonged to no less than six medical societies, and held a number of medical positions. He also acted as an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba.
House calls were still a thing in his day, and Dr. Besant made many in his career, sometimes in the middle of the night. The lives of thousands of Manitoba children were impacted by his care and commitment. He worked as a pediatrician for 41 years until his retirement in 1995, but continued to work part-time for years afterward. He was loved by many in the community. Friends, parents, patients, co-workers, neighbours, and fellow parishioners of both Prince of Peace Lutheran and Faith Lutheran looked to him for his gentle wisdom and sense of humour.
Donald dedicated his life to a variety of causes. He worked to promote the inclusion and well-being of children with disabilities, the health of children in Indigenous communities, was a board member to a number of worthy causes, and contributed to both the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the United Way.
Golf and curling were favourite pastimes of Donald's. He was also passionate about family get-togethers. Apart from the frequent get-togethers in Donald and Edith's Clearwater Road home, he'd often gather everyone for a big restaurant meal, and then generously foot the bill. After the meal, he'd make a little speech about how he loved everyone. As a Dad, he'd pack up his young family of four into a light blue station wagon, and take them on camping adventures across Canada and the States. He also took family on vacations to Europe, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Iceland, and the Holy Land. Later in life, he enjoyed driving the little red motor boat he affectionately called "The Lady Edith" up and down the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, with his wife Edith and other family in tow.
As a father, Donald loved his children dearly. He was a shining light, a teacher, a mentor, and an ally in each of their lives.
As a grandfather and great-grandfather, Donald referred to himself as "Grumps," but he was far from that. He brought joy and fun to, and kept a special place in his heart for each.
Donald is survived by his brothers, Robert (Joyce) and David; and his sister Geraldine Prouten (Frank) and sister-in-law Jean; his daughters, Carol Brisebois and Brenda Besant-Thompson (Brian); his sons, Stephen (Joanne) and Timothy (Teresa); his grandchildren, Benjamin, Justine (Shawn), Gabriel, Brandon, Matthew, Christopher, Kristy (Damien), Kristjan (Alexandra), Holly (Steven); and his great-grandchildren Elodie, Leah, Brett, Allison, and Nolan; and also, by many nieces, nephews, and their children.
Donald was preceded in death by his wife Edith only four months earlier; by his infant son Kenneth Donald; by his parents, William and Lilian; and by his brother Alvin.
The family would like to thank Pastor Chris Bishopp, Dr. Vivian Gerges, Sean from the St. Boniface General Hospital Palliative Care program, and the Riverview Health Centre.
If friends desire, donations can be made to Faith Lutheran Church, 1311 Dakota Street or "The Tomorrow Fund" (Dr. Donald and Edith Besant Fund) in care of the United Way of Winnipeg.
A private family interment will take place, and then a Celebration of Life in honour of both Donald and Edith will be held at a later date.
"Sentimental Journey" was one of Donald's favourite songs. We are so grateful to have been a part of the amazing journey that was his life.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Oct 16, 2021

Condolences & Memories (18 entries)

  • Dr. B, what can I say...I have known you since I was a tiny child. You making house calls, and me going to your office was at first scary, but I soon came to realize that you were the "Good Dr" always kind and funny. I would see you in church and be in awe that my Dr was there too. Over the years you became a dear friend, I loved my visits with you and Mrs B, and the boat ride was so much fun! (a tad scary, but fun, right Brenda LOL) I will always treasure our time together. Much love and prayers to your family and all who loved you as they go forward from here. RIP my friend! - Posted by: Belinda Phillips (Friend and my childhood Dr.) on: Oct 27, 2021

  • Drs Boyd and Besant were the family doctors to our family. I remember Dr Besant driving up to the house in his black car...I don't remember see me. I think I had chicken pox or measles...I don't remember. While he was seeing me, he noticed that one of my brothers had fluid retention in his legs. This was a serious problem that my parents were not aware of the situation. Dr Besant may have saved my brother's life. I don't remember how serious it was. - Posted by: Grant Wichenko (Patient as a child) on: Oct 25, 2021

  • I was privileged to have Dr B as pediatrician for both my children, until his retirement. He was so kind and gentle. I remember how he proudly displayed pictures of all 'his kids' (what he called all his young patients) on his office wall. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful human! My sincerest condolences to the family. - Posted by: Rose Legge (Patient ) on: Oct 18, 2021

  • My Grandpa was the best grandfather I could have ever asked for. He was my second father. Not only was he there for me at any time I needed him, we spent lots of time together he would always help me out of a struggle. This is very sad to see him go. I know he was ready and my grandma will now be together with him again. I spent time with him recently when I was in Winnipeg. Always phoned him when I was away. Will always be in my heart and my head. Miss you Grandpa. Will never forget our family get togethers when you would do a speech at the table. What I would do for another game of Monopoly with you Grandpa. Say hi to Grandma for me. I know you are watching me now. Nothing but condolences to my mother and the rest of his children. I know you wouldn't want me to be sad all the time. We all have to go one day. Rest in Peace. - Posted by: Gabriel Brisebois (Grandson) on: Oct 18, 2021

  • Dr. Besant was our doctor for me and 4 younger siblings in the 1970's when we were children. I was born with Asthma and back then, there was no immediate treatment as there is today with Ventolin. When I had trouble breathing, basically gasping for air and this took every ounce of my energy to breath. My mother would get a hold of D. Besant and tell him that I was suffering and I couldn't breath. I would sweating profusely and every inch of my body was in pain. He would as soon as possible drive to our home in Tuxedo, or if were at my Grandparents for Sunday dinner in Fort Rouge and open up his black bag and give me a shot of adrenaline. Within seconds I could breath again. Without him I would have had suffered beyond my imagination. He did this many times throughout the years and I am forever grateful to this day. God Bless. MM - Posted by: Michael Mark (Patient as a child) on: Oct 17, 2021

  • Two early memories with Dr B - House calls #1 and my bought with swallowing penicillin (his coaching). And 6th grade when Wilmy threw her bat after a major hit during baseball and Dr B had to stitch next to my eye socket. Lots of drama in those days. Dr B as calm and funny as can be. What a solid example of humanity. Rest in love and peace. My love to your family and everyone who knows you. Aloha Carol - Posted by: Carol j elias ( armstrong) ((Patient) and friend of Brenda ) on: Oct 17, 2021

  • Dr. Besant was such an important part of our lives growing up. He gave us the freedom to make poor choices, only to help us understand later why they were poor. He always welcomed us into his wonderful home. He always pontificated about life, our lives, and where we were headed. I think he scratched his head a lot, wondering what we were doing, but he was always supportive. To Tim and the rest of the family, God bless you all in this trying time. What gives me solace is that your dad is back together, with only a short break, with your mom. - Posted by: Brian Kuz (a friend) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • I am sorry to learn of Dr. Besant's passing but comforted to read this touching tribute and the many warm comments from friends and former patients. Growing up on Windsor Park, I was lucky to have him as my pediatrician as he was a great help to my parents and siblings in those early years. What a relief it was to me when I had my own two daughters and he agreed to take them on as patients as well. For me, no one else but Dr. Besant could be entrusted with my babies' care! A wonderful and truly caring man who will be missed by many. - Posted by: Kathy (Tanner) Stevenson (Former patient ) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • Deepest sympathies to the family and friends. What an extraordinary man. Wish I knew him earlier. I have had the pleasure of knowing his wife and daughter and son-in-law. From the beautiful stories of family get togethers and celebrations that I heard of, he will definitely be missed by all. Condolences 🙏❤️ - Posted by: Gwen Voroney (Friend of family ) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • No finer man, no finer physician .... My thoughts for you, his family who gave us his presence in our homes, the hospital, or his office. Thank you. I am alive and walking due to his gifts. Bless Bless (an Icelandic leaving) - Posted by: Diane Alexander (patient) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • My deepest condolences to Dr. Besant’s family. Comfort and consolation to each of you. Dr. Besant was my pediatrician. On one occasion I was very sick and he came to our home in the middle of the night and drove my mother and I to the hospital. Dr Besant was very kind, caring and generous. This was before car seats were used. He had me sit in the back seat of his car. In the middle he said because he was concerned about my safety while he was driving. He spoke kindly as we drove to the hospital. Dr Besant left a lasting imprint on my heart and his kindness guided me on my journey. Rest In Peace Dr. Besant. - Posted by: Carol Lawrence (Patient) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • I have wonderful memories of Dr. Besant as he was our family pediatrician. Very kind and always had a smile for us. As a young child, I was terrified of needles and would start screaming at the top of my lungs when I had to have an injection. Being the kind man he was, Dr. Besant would bring me a treat and just talk to me. Before I knew it, I had received my needle and didn't know it. Always the consummate professional and a credit to the medical profession. Am glad you are now with Edith. Thank you for all you did for the community. May the two of you rest in eternal peace. - Posted by: Barbara Judt (former patient) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • Both your parents were also great neighbours. Condolences to all the family from Tracy, Paul and myself. - Posted by: Sally Bracken (Carrick) (neighbour) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • Thinking of you all and your time with sorrow. May it bring comfort knowing that he’s now with his beloved wife Edith. sincerely Jane Vandal - Posted by: Jane Vandal (Former church family) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • Dr "B" was the most caring, compassionate and loving Pediatrician I have ever known and was blessed to have him care for our three children...he took the time from his own busy personal life to meet me at St Boniface emergency on a couple of occasions when our daughter broke her collar bone, the first time when she was 9 1/2 months old. I had to move my car from the emergency parking and there was Dr "B" offering the comfort of his big hugs to our daughter, diaper bag on one shoulder and our daughter's blanky over the other (the nurses actually thought he was the grampa)...just one of many memorable moments with this WONDERFUL man!...he will be missed...our sincere condolences to the Besant family. - Posted by: Catherine Graf (Mom of three former patients) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • What an amazing tribute to a wonderful man! It is apparent that Dr. Besant lived life to the fullest. As our children’s Pediatrician, he was a kind, caring and dedicated doctor. His legacy of love and care will live on in all those whose lives he touched. Our heartfelt condolences to Carol (former student)) and to all the family. May your treasured memories help to ease your great loss. Rest in peace Dr. Besant. - Posted by: Ken & Linda Boughton (Patient’s parents) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • Dr Besant was a dear, dear man. I think of him often and give thanks for his care of me as an infant, child and teenager. My mother knew him and Edith before they were married and when he was an intern, as she was a nurse at the hospital he did his internship at and where Edith worked as well. He became our pediatrician and did many a house call to our country home on Lorne Hill Road. If not for him, I would not be here today. My own children saw him at his practice in St Vital and then on Concordia. It gave me such peace of mind every time I took them in for this or that childhood malady. My sincere condolences to you all on his and Edith’s passing: my own parents passed away 7 months apart in 2014 and it was a hard time, but I took solace in them being together, as they were in life, sharing their special bind for eternity. Thinking of you and wishing you peace and comfort in the memories of them you hold most dear. - Posted by: Janine Harasymchuk (Former patient) on: Oct 16, 2021

  • “Doc” Besant was my doctor growing up in Windsor Park. Whether he came to our house or we were taken to his the occasional weekend emergency (33 Cascade I believe) he was always wonderful and caring. My mom truly appreciated him. - Posted by: Trevor Westwood (Patient) on: Oct 16, 2021

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