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Date of Passing: Feb 17, 2023

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On February 17, 2023, Daniel Jacob Klass died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his loving and devoted family. It was his 80th birthday.
He is especially mourned by his wife of 40 years, Georgia; their four children, Benjamin (Agnes), Jeremiah, Samuel, and Rebecca Klass; his sister, Baillie Tolkien; his niece and nephew Rachel and Adam Tolkien and their children, Samuel and Dimitri. He held a special place in his heart for his sister-in-law Virginia Lees (Ron Kibbins) and her daughters, Jennifer (Jill), Laura (Adam), and Kristen (Kent) Jones, as well as their children. He is also remembered and missed by many cousins, nieces, nephews, and in-laws, each whom he cared about dearly.
He was born in Winnipeg in 1943, shortly before his father Alan embarked on a three-year overseas tour as a surgeon with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Danny grew up in River Heights, where he formed friendships that would last a lifetime. He attended Kelvin High School. Of the many odd jobs he took on in his youth, he always claimed his favourite was cutting boulevards in the summers.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba with an arts degree in 1963, he moved to Montreal to study medicine at McGill. He passed his summers in the typical fashion, pursuing an additional BSc (Med) degree at the University of Manitoba under the supervision of Dr. Arnold Naimark. He developed an aptitude for medical research, and after finishing his internship at the Winnipeg General Hospital in 1968, he went on to complete a fellowship in respiratory medicine and physiology at the University of California in San Francisco.
Daniel's formative career in medical education began in 1979 at the University of Manitoba. He served there as Associate Dean in Undergraduate Medical Education from 1981 to 1989, during which time he played a leading role in the introduction of problem-based learning curricula and performance-based assessment criteria for students and physicians. He also developed standards to facilitate licencing for international medical graduates.
In 1989 he was recruited by the American National Board of Medical Examiners, and with four young kids in tow, he and Georgia moved to their new home in Philadelphia. During his 12 years at the NBME, he played a critical role as Director of the Standardized Patient Research Project. He believed that "the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient," an approach which he successfully transferred into the nation-wide implementation of improvements to the patient skills training required of all medical licensees.
Never one to stay in one place for too long, travel was a regular feature of Danny's life. While Pennsylvania served as a home base, trips back to West Hawk Lake during summers happened yearly, and visits to his sister and her family in France, to stay with friends in Italy and India, and to lecture in Australia were just some of the adventures he enjoyed over the years.
In 2001, Danny returned with his family to Canada. He finished his professional career in Toronto as Director of Quality Management at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, where he was an active proponent for the regular relicensing of physicians and for the national standardization of assessment pathways. Throughout his career, he maintained an active practice, published prolifically, and lectured at various medical schools, including the Hebrew University (Israel), University of Pennsylvania, Toronto, Flinders (Australia), and Manitoba. He retired in 2009, and shortly thereafter moved to West Hawk Lake with Georgia and their two dogs Gustav and Oskar.
Along with his family, Danny dragged an ancient Jaguar coupe with him wherever he went. The vehicle could never be fully relied upon, but its primary function was in reality sentimental: to transport the memory of Danny's father, the original owner, wherever his son might go. The Jag has since been shipped to the far corners of Vancouver Island, where it now resides with Danny's son Jeremiah, and continues to fulfill its purpose.
Despite the demands of work and family life, Danny always found time for hobbies. His favourite pastime was golf, which he enjoyed as much for the camaraderie as for the game itself. He was an early adopter of technology, as demonstrated by the veritable museum of old Apple computers and gadgets that reside in the basement. That same space also served as the base of operations for Dr. Klass's vertically integrated pickle factory, where his homegrown cucumbers were transformed into a finished product with love and care. He was a tinkerer who never let the slim prospect of success dampen his enthusiasm for the task at hand, and his willingness to experiment was a trait he passed on to his children.
The truth is that he never really retired, he just changed gears. After putting down his stethoscope, he picked up the call to represent the interests of his fellow citizens when he took on the role of President of the Whiteshell Cottagers Association and successfully beat back efforts by the government to unfairly raise cottagers' lease fees. He went on to organize a local ice road association, ensuring that he and all the neighbours would have dependable year-round access to their homes. It was a community undertaking that was as enjoyable as it was fruitful - he loved to plough the road with his friend Bob Challis in their 8-wheeled vehicles, and he was often spotted on the road, taking swings at brightly coloured golf balls with Trevor Down.
The thread that tied all of Danny's dynamic and varied pursuits together was his genuine interest in connecting with those he met along the way. He had an ineffable knack for converting strangers into friends and opponents into allies. Even the most distant of relatives had familiar faces and names in his home and heart. Danny had many dear friends who stayed in touch regularly even in his final days, which were brightened especially by chats with Brian Ayotte, Richard Deckelbaum, Trevor Down, Button Hollenberg, Bob Cohn, Brendan MacDougall, Jack Rusen, Jim Dixon, Paul Mitenko, Sid Robinovitch, and too many others to list.
Despite an all-too-ironic diagnosis of a progressive respiratory illness in his final years, resulting in a reduction in his physical range, Danny's empathetic, thoughtful nature remained fully intact. Indeed, the day before his death, Danny was occupied with providing reassurances to despairing friends, and operating his otoscope to examine his son Ben's ear for potential infection. His humour was evidenced until his final moments. The force of his magnetic personage only continues to strengthen.
Danny's family thanks Erin Mattson and Lindsay Bacala; nurses, Lisa Kamstra, Gayle Nickol, and Rhonda Heinrichs; Dr. Jeff Graham, Dr. Clare Ramsey, Dr. Bernard Cox, and Dr. Kristen Creek, who together stand as a shining example of end of life care.
Funeral services were held at Temple Shalom in Winnipeg; thanks to Rabbi Allan Finkel. The family is grateful and appreciative of all the kindness and support shown by so many friends and family members over the past three years. Donations in memory of Daniel Klass can be made to the charity of your choice.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Mar 04, 2023

Condolences & Memories (5 entries)

  • I did not know Daniel, but his wife Georgia was a very good friend of mine in the early seventies in university. Georgia - very sad to hear this news. All the best -- very great memories of our time together. Ken - Posted by: Ken Ball (Friend of Georgia) on: Apr 30, 2023

  • Condolences to Georgia and entire family. Sincerely sending prayers and God's love to you in this time of deepest grieving. Love continues on through eternity as we pass from form to form. We are only given what we are able to handle as individuals. This is the toughest test of all faith. Blessings to you and yours, from your old friend, Grant Robson. - Posted by: Grant Robson (Family friend) on: Mar 23, 2023

  • I'm sorry to learn of Danny's passing. He and I were both candidates for president of Kelvin High School and I remember still the joke he told during his speech (some 64 years later, so it must have made an impression). Danny said, "A political speech was like a bull, there is a point here and a point there and a lot of bull in between." Danny would have made a better president than I would have, but I don't think either of us made the grade. I worked with Dan's father Alan when he was teaching surgery and I was trying to learn it. I thought Dr. Klass was a fine man, and the acorn did not fall far from the tree. I always thought that Dan was an outstanding individual and I learned where his career had taken him and why I had seen so relatively little of him after medical school. I think it's great that he lived at Falcon Lake year-round. That is truly a Canadian retirement. It is sad for me to see friends and collogues pass, but I am sure Dan had a fulfilling life, and from the sounds of it, a great family. Bruce Bracken - Posted by: Bruce bracken (friend from high school and medical school) on: Mar 06, 2023

  • Dr. Daniel J. Klass was an extraordinary human being. Over the years, I met him several times during professional activities and as a friend. He was committed in a relentless manner to the common good of society and to the cause of immigrants and social minorities. My family will miss him with a great sense of gratitude even 40 years later. Our sincere condolences go to Georgia and his children. Ricardo & Family. - Posted by: Ricardo A. Cartagena (Friend) on: Mar 05, 2023

  • Baillie, My brother-in-law, Dave Knowles just sent the info re Danny to me. I was so sorry to see this news. I remember him very well and of course you as well. I had a chat with Dan at the Kelvin reunion a few years ago. So nice at that time to briefly catch up. My husband passed away a year ago as did yours so life has changed for us both. I’m now living in Ottawa - still in touch with the Hoeschens and Jocie Davidson in Vancouver. If you are travelling to Ottawa or Toronto I would love to have a lunch with you. My sympathy to you and your family Pam - Posted by: Pam Byrtus ( Nelson) (Friend) on: Mar 04, 2023

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