The Fiske name may be synonymous with engineering, but when he started to think about leaving a legacy, John Fiske (BEng (NSTC)’49, DEng (TUNS)’86) found his heart was in another place entirely.

“My wife [Lynn] and I wanted to do something in medicine,” says the successful property developer best known for Halifax’s Historic Properties, one of the most celebrated restoration projects in Canada. “We talked about making a contribution that would be meaningful to us personally. So, when we were approached about making a gift in support of the William Dennis Chair in Pediatric Epilepsy Research, we knew we had found our cause.”

A personal connection

That emotional connection links back to their eldest daughter Patricia (Pat) Fiske, who suffers from epilepsy and other medical complications attributed to her difficult birth in 1949. “Pat was a big baby,” says Fiske. “She should have been delivered earlier, but that’s the way things were back then. We just kept going.”

As Fiske’s professional career took off, his family grew, with four more healthy children following Pat in quick succession. Today, Pat is cared for in a nursing home close to the Fiske’s family home in Halifax.

“We wanted to do our part to help reduce the burden for the families of people like our daughter, because we’ve been there ourselves and we know it isn’t easy,” he says. “We were happy to support the Dennis Chair because it’s well set up and we know our money is in good hands. We’re also proud to support Dalhousie.”

A ‘win-win’ for the Fiskes

As a past member of the Board of Governors of the former TUNS, Mr. Fiske understands only too well that universities need private support in times of reduced public funding. “For us it’s a win-win. Dalhousie is a solid, fiscally responsible university with good leadership and very deserving of our support.”