Gemma left us quickly and quietly on October 11, 2023. She leaves behind her dear brother Mel and nephews Leo & Tami (Lana and Liam), Roy & Sonoo (Colin & Riley) and her extended siblings, nieces and nephews throughout the San Francisco Bay area, Texas, England, Sydney & Melbourne Australia, Toronto and Vancouver.
Gemma was born in Singapore on July 10, 1934 and attended Raffles Girls School where she excelled not only academically but with her athleticism in swimming, track and tennis. Her intelligence and ambition to learn earned her a scholarship to the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines where she received her medicine degree in 1964. She then went to eastern Canada where she received her specialty training in dermatology. In 1970, she started her own dermatology practice in Toronto. A trailblazer in the medical community, she was one of the first women in the region to have a dermatology practice. There was no doubt that if you were part of the Asian community in the Toronto and surrounding area, and needed a skin specialist, you would have found yourself at her office on St. Edwards Street in the heart of downtown. Her no nonsense approach and wit made her memorable amongst patients and colleagues alike.
A devout Catholic, she embraced her faith with her family and friends as all looked forward to her annual gatherings after Christmas Midnight Mass. Her worldwide pilgrimages and attendance at dermatology conferences provided the perfect opportunity to explore all the places she found herself in, happily immersing herself in the different cultural experiences. No matter where she went, her sense of humour and zest for life would leave smiles on faces.
After retiring from her practice in 2005, she moved into Chartwell Grenedier Retirement Residences in the west end of Toronto. During her time there, she continued to leave behind smiles with her stories of growing up in Singapore or exploring the cities and parishes around the world.
The family is grateful to the staff at Chartwell Grenedier and Bayshore Home Health for providing care and support. Special thanks to Chris (S.Y.) Chan who provided friendship, guidance and advice throughout her career and beyond until his passing in 2012 and to Robert Wappel who continued to keep a faithful eye on her throughout her retirement. A very special thanks to Gemma’s dearest friend and caregiver, Ann Krick, whose loyalty, devotion and laughter brought her joy and friendship for so many years. Mass will be held on Wednesday October 25, 2023 at 10am at St Basil’s Catholic Parish, 50 St. Joseph’s Street, Toronto.
St. Basil's Catholic Parish at the University of St. Michael's College