Dr. Ellen van der Hoeven, passed away at the age of 89 at Kingston General Hospital on March 1, 2019, after a brief illness.
Ellen was born in England but raised in Dublin Ireland where she completed her primary degree in medicine at University College Dublin. She immigrated to Canada and met and married military bandsman Hans van der Hoeven. She raised their six children while continuing her medical career as a microbiologist, pathologist, and teacher at Queen’s University. She was also a general medical practitioner with a dedicated office in her home. She later became our family doctor.
I met her when I worked as a lab technician for a doctor at Queen’s. I learned that she spoke openly and fearlessly in the microbiology department for the unborn where the number of babies killed by abortions at Kingston General Hospital was increasing with each year after they began in 1971.
Van der Hoeven held a special place in my heart and that of the other pro-lifers in the early days of Campaign Life in Kingston, Ontario. She attended all of our home meetings, and on one special occasion she spoke at City Hall to the mayor and council against the killing of the unborn children at Kingston General Hospital. A video was shown at that meeting which was viewed along with her speech by hundreds of Kingston residents because the Council meetings were shown on the local TV station. She urged the mayor at that time, John Gerretsen, who was also a member of the board of governors of the KGH due to his municipal post, to support our efforts to stop the killing of the unborn taking place there.
Her daughter Kathleen was killed in a motorcycle accident while leaving Downsview Park in Toronto after hearing the late Pope John Paul II speak during his first visit to Canada in 1984. Van der Hoeven described her daughter as passionately pro-life. Prior to her death, Kathleen had attended a Campaign Life Coalition pro-life rally and march around KGH against abortion just before the Pope’s visit.
Van der Hoeven is pre-deceased by her daughter Kathleen and her brother Anthony.
She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Hans, and their children Patrick, Ellen, Francis, Michael, Teresa, and 12 grandchildren.
Dr. Ellen van der Hoeven will be remembered as a dedicated doctor, wife, mother, and pro-lifer. Rest in Peace.
Mary Ellen Douglas is former national organizer of Campaign Life Coalition.