MUHC Foundation unveils portrait of medical pioneers Drs. Sylvia and Richard Cruess

On March 16, 2023, members of the MUHC community gathered to honour a medical power couple: Dr. Richard Cruess and the late Dr. Sylvia Cruess.

Pioneers of medicine and leaders at the MUHC and McGill University, the Drs. Cruess are renowned for their contributions to medicine in Montreal, Quebec and beyond. To honour their legacy, a beautiful portrait of the couple by Peter Krausz is now displayed in the atrium of the Research Institute of the MUHC (RI-MUHC). The artwork is just outside the Drs. Sylvia and Richard Cruess amphitheatre, which was named in honour of the couple in 2018.

“We have so many incredible stories at the MUHC, but my favourite is that of Drs. Richard and Sylvia Cruess. It’s their passion for research and for teaching that led the MUHC Foundation to launch a $10 million fundraising campaign to name the hospital’s amphitheatre in their honour. This space and the new portrait will not only honour their incredible legacy, but inspire a new generation of researchers and clinicians to advance health care for Montreal and for the world,” says Julie Quenneville, President and CEO of the MUHC Foundation.

Family, friends and colleagues attended the intimate event, which featured speeches by MUHC President and Executive Director Dr. Lucie Opatrny, MUHC Foundation President and CEO Julie Quenneville, RBC Art and Heritage Centre Director Dr. Jonathan Meakins and Dr. Richard Cruess himself. Guests enjoyed classical music by a local trio and a special video presentation about the couple. Both smiles and tears could be seen as guests reminisced.

Dr. Sylvia Cruess, who passed away last fall, was a pioneer of diabetes care and Medical Director of the Royal Victoria Hospital. She was the first woman in Québec to serve in a high administrative position within the hospital sector. She retired in 1995 from her administrative duties and began what would become 25 years of research into professionalism in medicine alongside Richard. Her work helped shape the MUHC into the site of exceptional patient care that it is today.

Dr. Richard Cruess, an orthopedic surgeon, served as Chair of Orthopedics at McGill University before becoming Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in 1981. During his long career, he was President of the Canadian Orthopedic Association, the American Orthopedic Research Society, and the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges. In 1995, he joined Sylvia in their shared research.

The Drs. Cruess met in medical school, and were married for 70 loving years. The pair were devoted to each other, sharing their lives, their professions, and their commitment to giving back. The couple were co-chairs of the fundraising campaign that built the Glen site of the MUHC, and Dr. Richard Cruess continues to sit on the Board of Directors of the MUHC Foundation.

The Drs. Cruess are known across the MUHC, McGill University and Montreal for their expertise, leadership and dedication to their community. The new portrait is sure to inspire medical students and seasoned professionals alike for years to come.

Life-long lovers of art, the Drs. Cruess’ believed in bringing art into the hospital to help patients heal. Make a donation in honour of Dr. Sylvia Cruess in support of the RBC Art and Heritage Centre of the MUHC:

See photos from the event

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