British Columbia

Pat McGeer — former B.C. cabinet minister, basketball player, scientist — dies at 95

Former B.C. cabinet minister Pat McGeer died Monday at the age of 95. 

Longtime cabinet minister was an accomplished neuroscientist and Olympic basketball player

Pat McGeer, seen here in a 2020 photo, died Monday at the age of 95. (Greg Dickson)

Former B.C. cabinet minister Pat McGeer died Monday at the age of 95. 

McGeer represented the Vancouver-Point Grey riding from 1962 to 1986, first as a Liberal and later as a key member of Bill Bennett's Social Credit government. In addition to his career in politics, McGeer was an Olympian and accomplished neuroscientist.

Greg Dickson, a writer and former CBC journalist, described McGeer as the consummate polymath involved in a "lifelong pursuit of knowledge."

"His enthusiasm was infectious," Dickson said. "He loved the discovery of science, the thrill of discovery." 

 McGeer was born in Vancouver In 1927. McGeer's father, Dickson said, was a lawyer and judge, while his mother worked as a producer at CBC. His uncle, Gerry McGeer, was the mayor of Vancouver in the 1930s and was later a member of Parliament and a senator.

McGeer was a star basketball player at the University of British Columbia, leading the Thunderbirds to an improbable win over the famed Harlem Globetrotters in 1946. He also played for the Canadian national basketball team at the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

He studied at Princeton and worked for DuPont Chemical, where he helped develop Teflon in the early 1950s.

After returning to B.C., he turned to politics. He was elected in 1962 as a B.C. Liberal and later served as party leader. 

He left the B.C. Liberals to join the Socreds. After Bill Bennett formed government in 1975, McGeer held several cabinet positions, including minister of education.

During his time in cabinet, he dealt with his fair share of controversy. As the minister responsible for the Insurance Corporation of B.C. in 1976, protesters printed bumper stickers that read, "Stick it in your ear, McGeer" after he raised rates. 

After leaving politics in 1986, McGeer focused on science, spending decades researching Alzheimer's disease alongside his wife, Edith. Both were awarded the Order of Canada for their research.

"Whether it's science, whether it's a sport, whether it's politics, individuals can make a difference, and both Pat and Edith have proved that," Dickson said.

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