Deep appreciation of nurses inspires fellowship funding

The late Bill Daniel had a deep respect for nurses --- his wife, Ruth Daniel, was a nurse at the former Wellesley Hospital, as was her mother before her. Visiting Ruth at work in the 1940s, Bill was often struck by the meaning of her work. 

“He felt it was one of the most giving professions,” says Bill’s son David Daniel. “He wanted to nurture that type of person because they look after others selflessly.”

In the years that followed, Bill rose through the ranks at Royal Dutch Shell and took on increasingly high-powered positions. After he retired as Shell Canada’s president and chief executive officer, he established a fellowship in memory of Ruth, who died in 2008. 

The "Ruth Daniel Graduate Nursing Fellowship," established in 2003, supports 

St. Michael's nurses in their graduate education. And when Bill died last year, he left a legacy gift in his will to continue the fellowship, which funds innovation in nursing education. 

The focus on innovation is particularly fitting, says David. During Bill’s time at Shell, he turned the company into the country’s largest natural gas producer and launched its offshore exploration on Canada’s east coast. 

“He was a good planner who understood how organizations work,” recalls David. “He was also good with people. They respected him and he motivated them.” 

Shell recognized Bill’s potential early on. The company snapped him up when he graduated with a degree in engineering from the University of Toronto, where he received the “Second Mile Award.” The award speaks volumes about Bill– it goes to graduates who go the extra mile. In his case, that meant a straight A record, two part-time jobs, a gig as president of the student engineering society and a spot on the school football team.  

As a freshly-minted mining engineer, Bill was sent to work in Houston, Texas, the first of 29 different postings during his 40 years with Shell. Each time he was promoted, he and Ruth and their four children packed up and moved to the next city -- The Hague, Caracas, Calgary, Edmonton, Port of Spain, and New York. 

When they finally came home to Toronto, Bill decided it was time to take on community projects. He became chair of the annual Toronto United Way campaign, director of Wellesley Hospital and member of St. Michael’s Governor's Council.

“He was a man with a strong social conscience,” says David.

And despite an immense career and consuming community work, he was also a family man. When Bill retired in 1985, he had more time to devote and every two years, he took the entire family on a cruise. 

“Even though we’re all scattered across the country now, we’re still very close because dad brought us together,” says David. 

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