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Vol 39  No 4
Oct. 12, 2006


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High-profile honorary grad passes away

by Jeff Green

Dr. Craig Dobbin

One of Memorial’s most respected honorary graduates passed away on Saturday, Oct. 7, after a brief illness. Craig Dobbin, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university in 2000, died at his Beachy Cove home. He was 71.

A native of St. John’s, Dr. Dobbin was a proud ambassador of Newfoundland and Labrador, a loyal community builder and a highly-successful entrepreneur who headed up CHC Helicopter Corp., the world’s largest helicopter conglomerate.

Hundreds gathered for his funeral at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in the capital city on Oct. 9.

Memorial President Axel Meisen considered Dr. Dobbin a close friend and said he made enormous contributions to this province’s business and social landscape.

Although Dr. Dobbin’s business interests were in real estate, construction, marine enterprises and investments, it was in the high flight world of helicopters where he made his mark on international business.

In the early 1970s, after working in other parts of Canada, he returned to Newfoundland and established Sealand Helicopters Ltd. in 1976 ­ the foundation of what is now CHC Helicopter Corp. In 2002 the company was listed in the New York Stock Exchange, the only Atlantic Canadian firm to be publicly traded on the NYSE at the time.

During his convocation address in 2000, Dr. Dobbin urged graduates to set their goals high and “dare to dream.”

“You can do anything in life if you set your mind to it. You’re in control. It’s your destiny,” he said.

Along with his business success, Dr. Dobbin was also the chairman of the Ireland Canada University Foundation, and was honorary consul of Ireland for Newfoundland and Labrador. He was also an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Dr. Dobbin’s legacy also included supporting various groups and charities. He and his Elaine were also huge supporters of the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. This past June, a new provincial facility dedicated to programming and education for individuals and their families affected by autism was opened ­ largely thanks to their support ­ on university property known as Shamrock Farm, adjacent to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s. For $1 Memorial leased the property to the society for the new facility which was named the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism.

“Craig Dobbin leaves a great legacy as a builder of a major corporation, as a contributor of our community through the Autism Society, but also as a very good friend to the university, the province and to me personally,” said Dr. Meisen.

Dr. Dobbin is survived by his wife and five children.

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