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William Robson Nichols Grier

December 9, 1923 – February 22, 2015

William Robson Nichols Grier died peacefully at home on Sunday, February 22 2015 with family by his side. Dr. Grier was born to Anna Rosalind Nichols Grier and the Reverend James Cunningham Grier on December 9, 1923 in Caron Saskatchewan, Canada. He and his sister Elizabeth Grier Ross (Dr. Hugh Ross) were raised in Campbellford, Lindsay and Guelph, Ontario. Robson had fond memories of his childhood and particularly credits his mother with sparking his interest in medicine. An accomplished attorney herself, her father had been a general surgeon and from a young age Robson had shown an interest working with his hands and figuring out how things worked. She steered his studies toward the sciences and Robson graduated first in his high school class. He grew up knowing he wanted to be a surgeon from the age of two.

Robson was proud to have served in the Canadian army during WWII. While serving, he was accepted at the University of Toronto Medical School, graduating in 1946. He received an internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York City which subsequently led to a long career at New York University Medical Center, where he practiced and taught as a Professor of Surgery at the Medical School until his retirement in 2000. Although he trained as a general surgeon, he specialized in Oncology and was widely published on a variety of topics. He also enjoyed annual stints as ship’s Doctor on the QEII for over 20 years and traveled to nearly every corner of the world.

On October 17, 1953 he married the love of his life, Mary Elizabeth Rohan of Boston MA, whom he met on the beach while vacationing on Nantucket Island. Together they raised six children in Manhattan during the week and in Sea Cliff, Long Island during weekends and summers. In 1969 the family moved to Bronxville NY where they resided for 24 years. In spite of his demanding career, he always managed to be actively involved in all of his children’s lives, schooling and interests.

Robson was a candid, earnest and optimistic man with a kind and giving heart. He possessed a marvelous sense of humor and loved adventure and fun with family and friends. His family fondly recalls the many station wagon caravans to Florida with cousins, rafting and fishing excursions in Canada and the many trips to Ireland to visit relations. He was blessed with a mischievous wit and a sentimental heart which he generously shared.

He moved to Hollidaysburg, PA to live with family and quickly embraced his new home. He enjoyed BCAF events, Lenten fish fries and dining out including the Heidelberg Country Club. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Hollidaysburg where he was welcomed by the entire congregation including Pastor Chuck and fellow surgeon Dr. Carroll Osgood. He was especially close with Ms. Joanie Sweeda and Mrs. Sandy Leo whose company he enjoyed immensely and who were always there for him for companionship and assistance.

He is survived by his six children, Peter Robson Grier of Hollidaysburg, PA, Timothy Sean Grier of Arlington, VA, Jonathan Fraher Grier of Hollidaysburg, PA, Andrew Nichols Grier and wife Cindy of Madera, CA, Elizabeth Mary Grier of New York, NY and Sarah Robson Hochuli and husband Jurg of Derwood, MD as well as his grandchildren Rebecca, Patrick, Kenan, Susannah, Owen and Daniel. A memorial service will be held at The First Presbyterian Church in Hollidaysburg on Saturday, March 7th at 11:00 am. 

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