John Caner

Doctor John Caner of our own bass section. Or is it the baritone section? It could be either one actually…he’s one of those vocally versatile guys that can sing either part.

Born in Philadelphia in 1930, John grew up with music in his life from an early age. The music stand on the piano in their home displayed many classical pieces as well as the latest Broadway show tunes. Though his piano interest gave way to the violin (and later the viola) before he could play with anything close to his mother’s skill, he readily participated in family singing, which was common in their home. By the time he was away at boarding school in New Hampshire as a young teen, it was only natural to find him involved in choir and glee club. He took a course in harmony, and found it very interesting to learn a little of the science behind the harmonic sounds he had heard on a barbershop LP recording that he had bought and played over and over, as a 10 year old.

After graduating from the high school academy in New Hampshire, John moved to Boston to attend Harvard College. There, in his senior year, he married Phoebe (though everyone knows her as Fifi). Graduating with a degree in Government (in 1952), John immediately enrolled in Harvard Medical School, from which he graduated in 1956.

Gradually, but temporarily, the viola and singing had to give way to the riggers of medical school and later residency, some of which he did in Seattle at King County Hospital and UW Hospital, with a year of residency between those two at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

John’s distinguished medical career spanned fifty years, from his last year of residency in 1960 to his retirement in 2010. His specialties were internal medicine and rheumatology. The awards, appointments, fellowships, and such are too numerous to mention, without embarrassing John to the point where he couldn’t sing. Besides, that stuff was just his job.

His real accomplishment (or is it Fifi’s?) is being married for over 61 years and raising two boys and two girls who have each gone on to their own professional careers. Contributing his time and resources to the community have included:

• Board Member – Seattle-King County Council on Aging
• Board Member Medical/Scientific Committee, Western Washington Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation
• Founding Board Member, Seattle Hospice
• Medical Advisory Committee, Lifetime Advocacy Plus

Sometime in the mid 80’s John was introduced to our own Doctor Dick Gode at a social function. (Something of a paradox I guess you could call it, huh?) Anyway, They got to talking and John learned of Dick’s involvement in the Lake Washington Skippers. Having greatly enjoyed singing the bari part to Cony Island Baby in a men’s club show, years before this, he was eager to check out the Skippers. He liked what he heard, joined the society, and has remained active for the last 27 years.

Though John had planned to get back to the viola before retiring, somehow it hadn’t happened by the time he was introduced to The Skippers. Alas, the viola still awaits him in the back of his closet. And even the idea of retiring from his medical practice, which he had been considering at the time, got set aside for over twenty years, once he started singing again. Music has a stirring effect on us, doesn’t it?

John served a stint as Program VP in the Skippers and Music VP here in Northwest Sound. He’s also the guy responsible for getting Swedish Hospital to buy those wonderful full page color ads in our show programs.

As if all that were not enough, when he’s not singing with us or trying to pull a quartet together, John enjoys skiing, tennis and golf, believing that one needs to “keep involved in stuff” to keep from growing old and unable to function.

So there you have it, a doctor’s prescription for a long productive life. He’s living it well.