Muskoka To-DAILY

‘A caring and saintly man’: A salute to Dr. Terry Chute (1948~2017)

GRAVENHURST — The sudden passing Dec. 6 of Dr. Terry Chute caught many in the Muskoka medical and church community by surprise

It saddened all of them who knew him both personally as a physician, and after his retirement in 2006 as a man of great renewed faith.

He had a great social conscience, which he wore on his sleeve and practised faithfully on the job and internationally in India and East Africal, following in the footsteps of his missionary grandparents Rev. Jesse (a Baptist pastor) and Dr. Pearl (one of Canada’s first female doctors).

Writer Jack Hutton knew the great doctor well, partly through the First Muskoka Congregational Church in Glen Orchard; and at the monthly Christian Men’s Prayer Breakfast, where this past Saturday morning just a couple hours before Chute’s United Church funeral, Hutton delivered this eulogy for his friend.

Here are his remarks:

By Jack Hutton, Gravenhurst Men’s Christian Breakfast, Dec. 9, 2017

It is often said that we appreciate the true worth of friends or colleagues only after they have passed on and are no longer with us. That is certainly true of our brother-in-Christ Terry

Dr. Terry Chute practised what he preached and lived a caring and saintly life. He was 69 when he passed away Dec. 6 of an electrical condition to do with his heart.

Dr. Terry Chute practised what he preached and lived a caring and saintly life. He was 69 when he passed away Dec. 6 of an electrically-related heart condition. Here he is with his dog, Cinnamon.

Chute who left us so suddenly last week. Many of us will be attending a celebration of his life later this morning at at Trinity United Church.

We are all in a state of shock at the suddenness of his departure, but he was doing what he loved most to do. It was helping others less fortunate than himself at the West Muskoka Food Bank.

He had just finished carrying out the garbage before he collapsed.

Here are memories of one of the most remarkable human beings I have ever known.

Terry Chute was born on September 10th in 1948 in Toronto. After graduating from Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, he entered a pre-meds program at McMaster University where he met

Marilyn, his future wife and soul mate. He also became friends with a fellow student called David Hillyard. Terry and David went on to the University of Western Ontario, graduating

together as doctors.

Their lives were intertwined in more ways than one, because on August 8, 1970, David married his sweethheart Donna. Terry Chute was an usher.

On Aug. 15th – just one week later – Terry and Marilyn were married with a post-wedding reception in McMaster’s chapel. Terry was 22.

Fast forward. Hillyard moved towards becoming a family doctor.

Terry was hired by the United Church Mission Board to join the Baie Verte Medical Clinic on the north coast of Newfoundland as a doctor. He was soon joined by another young doctor called Ardyn Todd.

After two or three years in Newfoundland Terry went to Tanzania as a doctor in a Mennonite hospital. After a few years in Africa he returned to Baie Verte in Newfoundland, this time as

head doctor.

Roughly a year later (1987) Terry received a phone call from his old friend, Hillyard, beckoning him to Gravenhurst.

Finally, three talented doctors were together under one roof – Hillyard, Todd and Chute.

The Hillyards had been in Gravenhurst since December, 1975. Todd joined Hillyard’s medical practice in 1980.

David’s call in 1987 brought Terry and Marilyn Chute to Gravenhurst , living on Hotchkiss in Gravenhurst until they moved out to Mortimer’s Point near Glen Orchard,

building a year-round home on a beautiful cottage property that had been passed along to Terry by his father.

Terry’s new patients in Muskoka were amazed to find that he was a doctor who would actually pray for and with them.

Meanwhile, Terry and his growing family joined the First Muskoka Congregational Church, which is where I came to know and admire both Terry and Marilyn so


After returning from his last trip to India last winter, Terry decided that he would be seeking out a new church, but the truth is that he will never really leave First Muskoka.

In my opinion, Terry and Marilyn were responsible for most of the great things that happened at our church during the many years they were there. They were responsible for the Hope Garden created in front of the church to provide food banks with fresh vegetables (there are now six Hope Gardens in Bala).

They helped to build nature trails through the woods below the church with scripture verses scattered along the route. At the bottom of the hill they spent days creating a Chapel in the Pines where services are held two or three Sundays between late spring and midfall, overlooking a beavers’ marsh with bullfrogs and plunging kingfishers.

Most importantly, Terry and Marilyn started a food bank, which became so successful that it has moved to the nearby Glen Orchard Community Centre, serving families from as far away as the reserve at Deer’s Point.

Terry served for years as chair or vice-chair of the church’s elders. He stressed the power of prayer and its importance in healing (Terry became part of the Healing Room at the Gateway Church and witnessed apparently miraculous cures through prayer).

Meanwhile, we all watched his own faith deepen and grow. Years ago he shared with great emotion how he had received a vision of Christ coming to him as a lion. I heard him describe this vision many times at a weekly men’s Bible study that happens early each Wednesday morning at the Bala Arena.

Many years ago – I have forgotten the year – Terry flew to India with his daughter Dawn to visit a location where his paternal grandparents, Dr. Pearl Chute and Rev. Jesse Chute, were

missionaries for decades. His grandmother, a medical doctor, helped found a hospital at Akividu, which is more than half way down India’s east coast.. His grandfather is still revered

for his Christian example over many years.

A young Christian pastor at Akivida, Pastor Yesipaudam (phonetically spelled), was delighted to meet a grandson of the famous Chute missionaries during Terry’s first visit and they formed an instant friendship which blossomed into Terry’s Nehemia Projects.

A last quick story about Terry. He left his medical practice in 2006 after having a major heart bypass. That is when his life of service to others really began. In 2010, a sister, Joan, a longtime missionary to Kenya, asked whether he would join a medical mission to that country. He agreed, but only if he could be one of the “gophers” and not one of the doctors. He no longer had a licence to practise medicine, he explained.

That is not the way it worked out. Just before they flew to Kenya in October, 2010, the lead doctor bowed out. The second doctor developed malaria and was gone within a week. Suddenly

Terry was in charge of the whole mission, diagnosing 150 to 300 people in a long line-up every day at a different location.

It was a dangerous five weeks. A Pentecostal church they attended one Sunday was attacked with a grenade the following Saturday night, killing two people. Somali bandits were kidnaping Westerners not far from them. Terry and his group persevered, never announcing where they would be the next day.

One day Terry met a mother holding a 10-month-old baby with a large head. Terry knew at a glance that it was hydrocephalus, “water on the brain,” and that it was almost a death sentence for children in the developing world. He and his team arranged for the child to have an operation in Nairobi – a cerebral shunt – along with another child with the same condition. It cost the Canadians $850, but the two children are now living normal lives – thanks to Terry Chute.

So this is the Terry Chute we are remembering today.

“A caring man. A saintly man,” as Todd remarked yesterday.

Terry was an inspiration to everyone in this room and to hundreds who we will never meet (perhaps thousands if one includes both Africa and India), This remarkable man left behind a spiritual footprint that spans half the world.

God bless you, Terry.

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