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A beautiful person and amazing clinician has passed into legend


It is with a heavy and sad heart that I inform you all of the passing of my dearest, closest friend Cliff Fowler. Cliff peacefully passed away early morning Saturday 23rd of October.

My relationship with Cliff began in 1974 when I went on an acupuncture course he was teaching in Kingston, Ontario. I was immediately taken in by his unique clinical charisma and knowledge. We bonded on that course and became close friends and kindred spirits for the next 47 years.

It was an inescapable fact that Cliff was an innate innovator. New clinical ideas and philosophies seemed to flow effortlessly from his brain and this energy was to overflow into people like myself, Diane Lee, Jim Meadows, Carol Kennedy and so many others. He was certainly the energy behind Canada’s clinical ‘innovative years’ between 1974 and 1994. During this time, along with his lifelong buddies David Lamb and John Oldham they developed the cervical and lumbar “Scanning examinations” which would become the foundations of the assessment procedures within the Canadian Orthopaedic Division.

I moved to Abbotsford BC in 1978 and we became neighbors in the same town. So, for the next 43 years we could work together clinically, research together and socialize together. Cliff had an inexhaustible appetite for thinking and talking about manual therapy. Our wives quickly banned us from discussing work when we went out for dinner. As recently as a month ago he was explaining to me how he believed the biomechanics of the SIJ was completely different in weight bearing and non-weight bearing. He sometimes exhausted my brain with his developing ideas. What a wonderful mind!

I am sure Cliff will be referred to as one of our clinical ‘giants’, as indeed he was. I prefer to look at him as a clinical force. A force that would forever change an entire generation of orthopaedic manual therapists in the United States and Canada. Through those of us fortunate enough to have him as our mentor that force will continue to influence future generations to come.

My sincerest condolences go out to his wife Pat, sons Rick, Dave and wife Kelly, and grandkids.

And now, the hardest words I have ever had to write, “Goodbye my friend. A part of my heart has gone with you”.


Erl Pettman

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