Dr. Ian Robb was the school physician for the Canadian School during the last term. His wife, Rowena (“Rona”), led the Brownie pack and Girl Guides during this time. They lived in an apartment on the second floor, with their little daughter Joan; a baby, Michael, was born during this time.
Ian was born to missionary parents in Wonsan, Korea (now N Korea) in 1916 during the Japanese occupation. He spent his school days in New Glasgow and Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Pyeng Yang, Korea. He graduated from Dalhousie University Medical School in Halifax in 1942. He served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in England, Normandy in 1944, and France, Holland and Germany.
After the war, Ian trained as a surgeon to prepare himself for service in China. In 1947, Ian moved with his family to Chengdu, China, to serve with the United Church of Canada mission at the West China Union University. In 1949, due to the Communist Revolution, Rona and the family returned to Nova Scotia. Ian went to assist Dr. Stewart Allen at the Canadian Mission Hospital in Chungking. He stayed until 1951, but after being placed briefly under house arrest by the Communists, left China and returned to Nova Scotia.
By 1953, a truce had been achieved in the Korean War and help was desperately needed for rebuilding. The United church Mission posted Ian to administer a small hospital established to care for North Korean refugees, on Koje Island off the South Coast of Korea. Since western families could not yet enter the country, Ian had to go alone. By 1956, the Severance Hospital in Seoul was under reconstruction, and Ian was asked to go to Canada to study anaesthesia, and return to Korea to establish and direct an anaesthesia department at the Yonsei University Medical Centre in Seoul. He arrived with his family in Seoul in 1958, and remained until retiring in 1981. He became Professor and Chairman of Anaesthesiology at Yonsei Medical Centre and in 1981 was appointed Professor Emeritus. For four months in 1980, he served with the United Mission to Nepal, supplying anaesthesia services at the Shanta Bhawan Hospital in Kathmandu.
Ian Robb’s contribution to Yonsei University and to the development of anaesthesiology in Korea is well recognized. In 1962, the Korean Government awarded him their Reconstruction Medal, and in 1981 the Order of Civil Merit.
Ian and Rona retired to Halifax, Nova Scotia where they were both active at Fort Massey United Church, and in Halifax Presbytery. Ian died April 27, 2004, at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax at the age of 87 years.