Alumni Profiles

Class of 1963

Class of 1963


Dedicated to Wellness and Mobility

1963, so meaningful in so many ways.  It is etched in our memories as the year of Kennedy’s assassination, of the civil rights march and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  Kenya became an independent country and the great powers signed a nuclear test ban treaty. But for us, it was 6T3.

The P&OT alumni of that year celebrated the 45th anniversary of our graduation at a luncheon following our regular tradition to renew friendships and share our past, present and future dreams.

We were 88 gals and each of us can somehow manage to rhyme off the role call from those groups one, two, three or four.  Unfortunately, as the years pass we have lost dear friends and colleagues: Joan Collacutt Oliver, Sharon Kuehner Olesky, Lynne Seaton Weir and Barb Tomlinson Smith.

The talk was lively: of travels, children, grandchildren and fulfilling lives with all their ups and downs.  A request went out to share each one’s life with a short vignette and there were many responses.  They are shared here for a glimpse of our lives and of our careers: diverse, exciting and having positive impacts on our families and on our communities.

Lynne Avery Balfour’s career was the picture of what our combined education was all about; she combined the skills and perspective on both a PT and OT in her work and successes at Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Rehabilitation Centre.

For Judy Bender Zelmanovits a passion for learning and travel led her first to Quebec where she practiced as a physiotherapist and then back to Ontario on the road to an academic career at York University, Judy’s work has focused on the social history of health care.

Carolyn Bleasdell Holt’s career was a story of success in both private and public sectors.  Her voluntary involvement is no less impressive, including meaningful travel in many parts of the world.

Barb Buchanan Simpkins worked as an OT in Calgary, Toronto and St John’s before moving to Calgary where she launched into a successful and happy career in the book business. Chapters arrival meant an end to the independent bookstore but retirement has meant lots of time to read, be active both indoors and out and to enjoy grandchildren.

The Alzheimer’s Society has to count itself lucky to have the dedication and commitment of Ginny Cairns Sanderson.  It is her professional background and experience as an OT and wife that will bring them so much insight and expertise.

For Diane Desser Gasner the reality of being a physical therapist opened the world to international travel and work experience and a fulfilling academic career as a faculty member in the Department of Physical Therapy at UofT.  Health Records and Scientific Publications have been a reality for many of us but to have a published author in our midst is indeed special.

Julie Dulmage Johnston followed her career as an OT with writing for both young adult and adults.  First published in 1992 she has been the recipient of many awards including two Governor General’s Awards.  SusanFaber Bordo’s passion for working with people and helping them achieve their goals never changed. This held true whether as a physio or as a successful Realtor, training new Agents in the office, as well as helping people buy & sell homes.

It is impossible to summarize Shan Fournier Kelso’s career as both a PT / OT, administrator and major player in community service.  Seeing her role as President of both OPA and CPA we could all feel a sense of pride in seeing her name and remembering that she is a 6T3’er.

For Marilyn Lane Niess work has involved a cross-border career.  Marilyn worked for 43 years as a PT in the acute care setting in Ohio but has returned ‘home’ to retire to their cottage on Moon River in the Bala area of Ontario.

Sandra Graham Abraham earned an MA in Behavioural Science that took her to management and international contract roles with public and private INGOs. She received a Distinguished Service Award.

Marianne Jefferies, with a M.Ed., developed the first community college program for PTA/OTAs in Canada at Humber College. There are now six such programs in Ontario and five more across Canada. She was named Innovator of the Year by Humber College in 1998.

Diane Major Brokenshire founded the OT department at the O and A Hospital and has served on the Board of Directors of CAOT. She has shared her experience in five Rehab hospitals in Toronto during her career.

Ruth Parker Babcock has lived and worked in many cities around the world. Both PT and OT were useful in the community especially her work in Hong Kong with refugee children living in marginalized situations.

Barb Reid Carthew lived and worked in eight countries and four provinces. She has received awards and tributes for her outstanding work reaching from the Arctic to the tropics.

Penny Robinson Evenden not only started the Bruce County Hospital PT Department and inspired one daughter to be a PT, she is currently assisting an eye surgeon on two-week medical ministry visits to South America.

Susan Samuels Sole, as an OT, enjoyed the benefits of combined skills in two Toronto hospitals before qualifying and working in California and Massachusetts. She later developed policy for health and social services for seniors at the Government of Ontario.

Nancy Taylor Cummins’ primary interest is ABI and front line community rehabilitation in Toronto, Haliburton, Sioux Lookout (fly in), Labrador and Newfoundland. Combined OT & PT background has been invaluable.

Sue Track has worked in Toronto and Montreal Hospitals as well as her Toronto private practice for many years. She now volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, Ten Thousand Villages and organizes P&OT events.

Ann Williams Smith started her PT career at Lyndhurst Lodge and has become an outstanding community volunteer with CNIB, NYGH Foundation and above all, 30 years with Centennial Infant and Child Centre that earned her the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Volunteerism.

Leslie Willson Wargo knows how to grow a rehab service, bringing a private WSIB Clinic at the Oakville Hospital to a full spectrum treatment facility. She has worked as well in home care – perfect for PT/OT background.

Marg Young worked for 36 years at OCCC, now known as Bloorview Kids. In 1976, she developed the first program for new drivers (adolescents) with a physical disability. She has been honoured with a life membership in OSOT and AEO and a CAOT Award of Merit and more.

To all the 6T3ers, please keep those stories coming; we want to hear from you.  We are, indeed, an accomplished and exciting lot; we’ve focused on wellness in its broadest sense but have not forgotten the importance of travel and fun.  It is all presented within the realm of humility that was such a hallmark of our time.

By Diane (Desser) Gasner