Robert's son, Dr. Douglas Ross, who had attended Bethune's lectures in Montreal in the early 30's, revered this Canadian surgeon. He admired Bethunes's proposed reforms, especially when, pre-medicare, Bethune opened a free clinic where he treated women, children and unemployed men during the years of the Great Depression.
Bethune was also a hero of the Spanish Civil War, where he is credited with developing mobile blood banks for battle field transfusion.
Bethune's belief in the benefits of socialized medicine made him an unlikely hero to Robert, who also believed in helping others. This did not extend quite as far as Bethune's support for state medicine, however. Robert admired the man's medical brilliance but could simply not support him when Bethune joined the Communist Party in the late 1930"s.