Dr Kenneth Cambon 1923–2007

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 49, No. 8, October 2007, page(s) 452 Obituaries
Graham Bryce, MD

Dr Kenneth Cambon, born in Quebec City, died in February in Vancouver following a 7-year struggle with dementia. Ken is survived by his wife of 57 years, Dr Eileen Nason Cambon, sisters Noreen and Margaret (Bunny), brother Austen, daughters Noreen and Marie, and grandchildren Sybrand and Harrison.

After matriculation in Quebec City in 1940, Ken worked at the Citadel Cigar, until a broken coffee pot cost him half of his meagre wages. Ken proceeded directly from the Citadel to the closest recruiting centre where he signed up as a member of the Royal Rifles the day before his 17th birthday. After rifleman’s training at Val Cartier, Sussex, and Gander, Ken shipped out with his regiment to defend Hong Kong from the advancing Japanese. Ken was captured in the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941, the youngest Canadian Hong Kong POW. The next 44 months were spent in the depravity of several camps in Hong Kong and in Japan, an experience documented in his book, Guest of Hirohito. Ken suffered the extreme hardships of coal yard labor and starvation. Later, he became a medical aide and, at times, a nascent physician in several camp hospitals, the last of which was in Niigata. Ken was liberated by the Americans in August 1945, and returned home via Manila, Honolulu, and Victoria, where Canadian POWs were placed under observation for several weeks.

After returning to a hero’s welcome in Quebec, a former boss from Ken’s days as newspaper carrier for the Gazette encouraged him to go to university. The Canadian government offered war veterans a free university education, which gave Ken an opportunity he would otherwise not have had. After only 2 years of pre-med studies at McGill, Ken began medical school in 1947. There, after second year, he married classmate Eileen Nason. Upon graduating in 1951, the young couple interned at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and then took a 2-year contract as physicians for the Demerara Bauxite Co. in British Guinea (now Guyana). From 1954–1955, Ken completed 6-month house jobs at the ENT hospitals at Earl’s Court and Golden Square. Afterward, he headed to the University of Texas at Galveston to complete his residency in otolaryngology and Eileen hers in ophthalmology. Their daughter Noreen arrived in 1957, the year before the Cambons settled in Vancouver. Another daughter, Marie, was born in 1962. Ken held a faculty position at the University of British Columbia, an office practice with Eileen, and positions at VGH and Children’s Hospital. Ken’s early interest was in children’s ENT disorders while in his later years he became a respected ear surgeon and mentor to many specialists in training. In his recreational time, he enjoyed winemaking and crabbing at their property in Robert’s Creek, and honing his tennis skills at home and in Manzanillo, Mexico.
Memorial gifts may be given to a children’s charity of your choice, or to the Pacific Otolaryngology Foundation.

—Graham Bryce, MD