Our Hospital, Our StoriesRemembering Nick Lees: A reflection by Sharlene Rutherford

Posted on: Jul 03, 2024

Beloved Edmonton Journal columnist, fundraiser, and wine aficionado Nicholas Lees sadly passed away this June. In honour of this great man, President and CEO of the Royal Alex Hospital Foundation Sharlene Rutherford penned this personal reflection.

There was ever only one Nick Lees. Yet the man lived a life so voluminous, there seemed to be so much of him to go around. And like Nick, we never really thought the party would end. Now that he’s gone, Edmonton seems less joyful, less interesting, and a lot less informed about the people in our city who are doing great work for great causes.

Long time columnist for the Edmonton Journal, Nick Lees covered community events in our city, largely focusing on Edmonton’s diverse charity and philanthropic scene. He was an active champion, participant, and supporter himself, elevating his love for running, cycling, fundraising, and writing for the benefit of important causes. And it all seemed to be gift-wrapped in that ever-present wit and unmistakable sparkle in his eyes.

“I’ve run 55 marathons and I have two new hips to prove it,” he was fond of saying. I recall visiting him as he was recuperating from one of those hip surgeries, here at the Royal Alex. He was well into planning his next cycling event.

Everyone will have a story—or stories—about Nick. He helped a lot of causes and healthcare was at the top of his list. Nick had his own special, leading role in what would become one of the most successful and impactful women’s hospitals in the country—the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. His column covered the history of the capital fundraising campaign, the generous donors who were supporting it, and the spectacular gala that continues to enhance care today within its walls.

“The most exciting night in women’s health” was the way Nick once described the black-tie fundraiser, Harvest Celebration. I loved seeing him in the room. And he loved that I provided him with all the speaking notes ahead of time.

Whether Nick Lees, or Nick “Danger” as he was fondly referred to by those who knew of his love for adventure, this man of wit, wisdom, and writing, who was a friend to all in life, will be remembered fondly and missed dearly in death.

I miss you already, dear Nick. Thank you for all that you have done to improve the lives of others in our city, particularly the lives and outcomes of patients in our hospitals. 

The pen is down. The copy is filed. Rest in peace, dear friend.


Photo source: Edmonton Journal: Nicholas Lees Obituary - Oct. 14, 1942 - June 24, 2024