From left, John MacInnes and George Garrett. (File photo)

Cancer-driving service to be longtime Surrey volunteer’s legacy

Cloverdale’s John MacInnes dies from cancer July 7

Remembered for his compassion and dedication to those fighting cancer, long-term volunteer and Cloverdale resident John MacInnes, 83, has passed away.

MacInnes is a founding member of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society, an organization that transports cancer patients to their appointments throughout the Lower Mainland.

He died from the disease – 15 days after being diagnosed – last Friday at 11 p.m.

While volunteering for the now defunct Canadian Cancer Society ride program, MacInnes saw – first hand – the benefits of having a service in the community. Shortly after the Canadian Cancer Society program was dissolved, MacInnes started working behind the scenes to get the old gang back together but under a new name.

MacInnes demeanour was described by Myra Ford, one of the first clients of the new volunteer society.

“He kept my phone number and thought of me when this thing was going to get off the ground,” Ford told Black Press when the program first launched in February 2016.

Ford said she was grateful of the thought, and described MacInnes as a particularly good listener among the service’s many good drivers.

Ford is, as MacInnes’ good friend George Garrett would describe, one of the many people MacInnes has helped over the years.

The new society will be his legacy, agreed Garrett.

“I would say John was a man dedicated to cancer patients. He was very compassionate and when the Canadian Cancer Society cancelled the service of (transporting) patients, he was furious,” Garrett told Peace Arch News Tuesday.

The volunteer driving society now does 500 trips a month in the Lower Mainland.

“He often said he wanted the society to last 25 years. I used to worry about raising money, if we had enough. He said ‘it will come.’ He did have that determination and that optimism. It turned out to be true, we have done quite well.

Garrett said he visited MacInnes in hospital several times over his short time in hospital and presented him with a plaque recognizing him of his contribution to cancer patients.

“Friday the seventh of July, I went to the hospital at 4:30 in the afternoon with the premonition this might be my last chance to speak with him. He wasn’t really conscious but I held his hand and just told him how much me meant to cancer patients and what a wonderful man he was,” Garrett said.

Eldest of two brothers, MacInnes is survived by his wife, Norma, who he married on April 27, 1957 in Vancouver. Together, they have three children, Toni, Chris, Dana, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Precious Blood Parish (17475 59 Ave.) on Saturday (July 15). In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society; volunteercancerdrivers.ca.

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George Garrett (blue shirt) and John MacInnes have helped launch the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society, which replaced a Canadian Cancer Society program cancelled in 2015. (File photo)

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