Penelope “Penny” (Godfrey) Koch (BSN ’59)

Penny Godfrey was born in 1937 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her father, a British civil engineer worked on the British Railway there. In 1947 the family moved to Revelstoke, British Columbia. Penny took one and a half years at Revelstoke High School and then transferred to boarding at Crofton House in Vancouver.

Although medicine was her first choice of career, she entered the University of British Columbia School of Nursing as a member of the 1959 class. In 1958, at the end of the hospital residence part of the baccalaureate program in nursing, before returning for a final year on campus, she married Peter Koch, who was doing his internship in internal medicine at the Vancouver General Hospital.

Upon graduation in 1959 she took a position teaching obstetrics in the School of Nursing at St. Paul’s Hospital. The following year, when her husband pursued a career in psychiatry at Temple University, Penny assumed a teaching position at Temple University in Philadelphia, again teaching obstetrics and gynecology in the nursing program.

After taking some pre-med courses, Penny returned to her preferred career plans and was accepted into the medical school at Temple University, the class of 1969. To support her schooling she worked for the duration of her education on the 3-11 pm shift in the premature nursery at Temple University Hospital. Upon graduation she interned for a year at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, steering her career towards internal medicine. Completing this stage she returned to Philadelphia to work in the biochemistry laboratory she had worked in during her time in medical school, still keeping her interest centred on internal medicine. During this time she trained in adult hematology. She also had the opportunity to work under Audrey Evans, chair of the Children’s Oncology Department at Children’s Hospital. She found the area of academic pediatric oncology interesting enough to change her specialty to this new area.

In 1980 Penny returned to Canada and to Montreal Children’s Hospital and was also appointed an associate professor in the School of Medicine at McGill University. She took early retirement from McGill in 1989 returning to Vancouver to care for her ageing parents. At this time she worked part-time in Oncology Outpatients at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, retiring from this position in 1995.

After returning to Vancouver, Penny, an avid gardener, now had time to volunteer at Van Dusen Gardens. She earned a “master gardener” status, after taking a twelve-week training course at Van Dusen Gardens. She continued this commitment as a master gardener after her move to Parksville on Vancouver Island in 2009, volunteering at Milner Gardens in Qualicum where she worked in plant sales and in training volunteers.

She also travelled adventurously and widely, fulfilling her life-long commitment to outdoor activities and to the north. This included visiting the Arctic several times, and in taking the trans NorthwestPassage crossing in one of the small modest boats that plied the waters before the advent of cruise liners.

Prepared by Penny Koch and Elvi Whittaker

Obituary for Penelope Koch [handwriting: K Sun Oct 29/2019]

KOCH, Penelope

Penelope Ann Koch (née Godfrey) M. D. 81, of Parksville, B.C. passed away on July 20, 2019, after a brief hospitalization. Penny was born on September 1, 1937, to Monica (née Truzzel) and Dudley Godfrey in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The family moved to Revelstoke in 1948 and then to Prince George and Burnaby. Penny attended Crofton House in Vancouver, graduating in 1954. After completing the Nursing program at VGH in 1958, Penny received a BSN at UBC in 1959. She attended Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, graduating in 1969. After her internship and residency at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, she returned to Philadelphia in 1971, researching Hematology and Oncology and treating children living with cancer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She became Asst. Prof. of pediatrics at the UPenn School of Medicine in 1978. by 1980 she was the Assoc. Director of the Pediatric Transplant Team which focused on stem cell transplantation. In 1981, Penny was recruited by McGill University to help build a transplant team at Montreal Children’s Hospital and teach Pediatrics and Oncology at the faculty of Medicine. She moved to Vancouver to support her parents in 1998, continuing her medical practice at Vancouver Children’s Hospital. Over the course of her career, she published numerous papers on the care of children with cancer. Penny became a Master Gardener at VanDusen Gardens and volunteered on several strata boards. She was strong, independent and driven. She travelled the Canadian Arctic and had a keen sense of adventure. Penny was an avid cross-country skier. She would tackle the New York Times Crossword from any day of the week and was a wonderful knitter. After retiring in 2002, Penny tended her orchids, enjoyed good food and wine, spoiled her Siamese cats, assisted at Milner Gardens and basked in the view of the Salish Sea. Penny is survived by her brothers Colin (Gay) of Simsbury, CT and John (Lynne) of Campbell River, B.C., and by her nieces and nephew: Jill (Warren) Moxam, Michael (Vanessa), Miriam (Adam) Lewis, Kathryn Godfrey and Micaela Godfrey.