Obituaries

Obituary

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6968.1577 (Published 10 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1577

Philip Ashby was small, bespectacled, and shy but a determined, uncompromising evangelical Christian who was efficient in his practice, in the Christian Medical Fellowship, and for 40 years as secretary of a parochial church council. He kept a diary from the day he entered Uppingham School to the day of his death and preserved all his notes, records, and correspondence with meticulous care.

At Cambridge he was a well known figure racing along on a child's bicycle. Characteristically, when the president of the college's boat club tried to persuade him to train as a cox by saying that it was not strenuous and he could swear at everybody Philip replied, “But I don't particularly want to swear at anybody.”

After various hospital jobs he became an assistant in a general practice in Cambridge. There he met his future wife, the practice's pharmacist, but they did not embark on their 43 years of married life until 14 years later. In 1930 he became an assistant in a general practice in Tunbridge Wells, and he returned there after the war as a partner. From 1969 he was the senior partner in a growing practice of Christian doctors. He officially retired in 1976 but continued to hold surgeries until 1981 at the age of 75.

Last year, when he was already suffering from heart failure, a gastric carcinoma was diagnosed and he elected to have only palliative treatment. His wife died in 1993, and he is survived by his daughter (a general practitioner) and son and two grandchildren.—FREDERICK J WRIGHT

Philip Theodore Ashby, who was a general practitioner in Tunbridge Wells 1938-41 and 1946-81, died 2 August. Born Tunbridge Wells, 15 February 1906; educated Uppingham School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and the London Hospital (MRCS, LRCP 1931; MB, BChir 1933). During war served as anaesthetist in Royal Army Medical Corps at El Alamein and in Libya, Tunisia, and Italy, becoming captain.

There have always been those who have been regarded as pestilential nuisances by their more conventional colleagues. Thomas Wakley, the first editor of the Lancet, was one. Maurice Pappworth was undoubtedly another. Yet, like Wakley, he was responsible for doing more by his vehement campaigning for patients' interests than anyone of his time in Britain.

After he graduated Pappworth worked with Lord Cohen, whom he regarded as a great diagnostician and from whom he undoubtedly learnt a great deal about diagnosis and clinical teaching. Perhaps his first rebuff occurred in 1939, when he applied unsuccessfully for a consultant post and was told by an unremembered local scion of the profession that “no Jew could ever be a gentleman.” The job went to the first person whom he had successfully coached for the MRCP examination. After the war he was offered jobs in less desirable parts of England but held out, too ambitiously perhaps, for a post in the London area in a well known hospital, an ambition he never achieved. Instead he turned to private practice and to private teaching for the MRCP examination.

He was a remarkable clinical teacher. During the years he coached over 1600 young doctors, many from the old Dominions. He could claim that some 75% of the doctors from New Zealand and Australia who got their membership during the postwar period had done so because of him. Not unnaturally, the traditional membership examiners did not take too kindly to his success. One once asked him, “What exactly do you teach these fellows?” To which Pappworth replied, “I just teach them tricks.”

It was through his contacts with doctors working in teaching hospitals in London that Pappworth first became aware of the unhappiness felt by some young doctors at having to participate in experimental work that they found distasteful but in which, for the sake of their careers, they had to take part. He first published 14 examples of what he considered to be doubtful ethical research in 1962. At the same time Henry Beecher of Harvard University was criticising the ethical standards of American clinical research. Pappworth's book Human Guinea Pigs, published in 1967, was an immediate sensation. He described 205 experiments in all, some done on residents of institutions and some on prisoners, as well as 78 examples from NHS hospitals. He was particularly harsh on Hammersmith Hospital, where the earliest cardiac catheterisations and liver biopsies had been carried out in Britain. It was perhaps ironic that in the 1960s the two countries that were being taken to task for failing to follow the Nuremberg Code, which insisted on informed consent in all forms of human experiment, were the two main prosecutors at Nuremberg.

At the time many academic physicians were outraged by Pappworth's book. Nevertheless, he has been vindicated by the subsequent establishment of ethics committees to supervise clinical research and by the development of medical ethics as an academic discipline. Not unnaturally, his relations with the Royal College of Physicians in London were distant. He had successfully passed the MRCP examination in 1936, as a young doctor in Liverpool. Nevertheless, justice was finally done. With a new breath of fresh air blowing through the corridors of power at the college, he was awarded his fellowship last year, 57 years after gaining his membership—an occasion greeted with spontaneous applause.—CHRISTOPHER BOOTH

Maurice Henry Pappworth, who practised privately and as a tutor, died 12 October. Studied medicine at Liverpool University (MB, ChB 1932). Junior appointments in Liverpool. During war served in Royal Army Medical Corps, becoming lieutenant colonel.

John Paul, who until his retirement had been director of the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, had a quiet personal charm and was known for his wise judgment. He joined the biochemistry department of Glasgow University as director of the tissue culture laboratory in 1953 and was one of the first scientists to realise that culture of human and mammalian cells in the laboratory would become a key factor in research into the biology of normal and cancerous cells. He wrote what for many years was the most authoritative textbook on the subject. He also directed courses in Colorado and Wisconsin on the techniques he had developed. He was a pioneer, and many people went to him to learn the new techniques and with his help adapted them to their special requirements in cancer research, haematology, human genetics, and embryo research.

His options were many, but he moved to the Beatson Memorial Hospital to lead the small cancer research laboratory. Under his guidance and enthusiasm the department expanded, and he founded the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research. Later, seeing the need for better cooperation between basic and clinical sciences, he started the initiative to unite the institute with the research laboratories of Glasgow University's clinical departments of medical and radiation oncology on a new site.

John had a remarkable power to instil enthusiasm in people and had many friends locally and internationally. His later years were plagued with ill health. He is survived by his wife, Ray; two sons, Alistair and Roderick; and daughter, Anne.—ALISTAIR RIDDELL

John Paul, who was director of the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow 1970-87, died 27 June. Born Wishaw, Lanarkshire, 25 April 1922; studied medicine at Glasgow University (MB, ChB 1945). Spent two years as ship's surgeon in Merchant Navy. Held research fellowship at College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, 1952-3. Director of tissue culture laboratory, department of biochemistry, Glasgow University, 1953-66; reader 1961-4; titular professor 1964-6. Director of cancer research laboratory, Royal Beatson Memorial Hospital, Glasgow, 1966-70. Awarded honorary DSc by Glasgow University 1989.

Luis Adrian Vassallo was an excellent diagnostician and loved teaching. Pappworth's A Primer of Medicine was his bible for undergraduates, and the patient's bedside was his school of medicine. He diagnosed correctly on clinical grounds the nature of his own terminal illness (metastatic bowel cancer), and I well remember his bittersweet smile of professional pride when the diagnosis was confirmed.

His publications on typhoid fever, murine typhus, diphtheria, lead poisoning, multiple sclerosis, and consanguinity showed his energy and thoroughness. His forte was lecturing: he good humouredly cast a spell over his avid listeners by fleshing out the dry shards of medical history with surprising insights into the protagonists' thoughts and human frailties. He was particularly fascinated by the saga of brucellosis, the subject of his best lectures.

A man of integrity, he left Malta after he was dismissed by the government in the turmoil after the introduction of controversial legislation interfering with the independence of the Medical Council of Malta.

Above all, he was dedicated to his patients. In this vein, he composed his obituary for the Times of Malta, which read: “The deceased bids a very fond farewell to all his old friends, former colleagues and students, and the many patients he had the privilege to look after over the years.”

He is survived by his wife and classmate, Elsa; his two sons (of whom I am one) and seven daughters; his grandchildren; and his parents.—D J VASSALLO

Luis Adrian Vassallo, who had been consultant physician at the King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, since 1980, died 28 June aged 60. Born Malta, 29 July 1933; educated Lyceum, Malta, and Royal University of Malta (BSc, BPharm, MD 1957). Registrar in neurology and neurosurgery at West End Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Consultant physician and lecturer in medicine at St Luke's Hospital and Royal University of Malta 1965-74; senior consultant physician 1974-6. Head of department of community medicine, Royal University of Malta, 1976-7. Chief of medicine, King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah, 1982-7. President of Malta branch of BMA 1974 and 1979. Regional overseas adviser to Royal College of Physicians of London since 1988.

Brian Petty was appointed a consultant radiologist to the Huddersfield hospitals in 1966. His experience in neuroradiology brought added skill to an already highly regarded department. Honesty and openness were his characteristics but were always accompanied by sensitivity.

Brian had served as a surgeon lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on a hydrographic survey vessel. During a survey of parts of the Persian Gulf a number of sandy islets were discovered and charted; these were named Petty's Patches—a fitting memorial for one who loved the sea and naval tradition.

Tradition in hospital matters was always a strong feature for Brian, and changes that he thought were either unnecessary or neglectful of longstanding practices were fiercely opposed, but he always accepted defeat and never resented it. He served the Huddersfield medical community as chairman of the BMA division. After his retirement, and barely a year before his final illness from epiglottal carcinoma, he was elected president of Huddersfield Medical Society. He held this post and that of president of Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestral Society simultaneously. He is survived by his wife, Ann, and a son and a daughter.—ALAN M BARLOW

Brian Wilfrid Petty, who was a consultant radiologist at the Royal Infirmary and St Luke's Hospital, Huddersfield, 1966-92, died 8 July aged 67. Born Keighley, 9 March 1927; educated Keighley and Dudley Grammar Schools, Birmingham University (MB, ChB 1950). Served as surgeon lieutenant in Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve 1952-4. Trained in radiology at St George's Hospital, London. Instructor in radiology at Yale Medical Center, Connecticut, United States, 1965-6.

Bill Woodward was appointed a consultant anaesthetist to the united Birmingham hospitals in 1947 and became the senior consultant anaesthetist to the department of neurosurgery. He also worked at Birmingham Dental Hospital (part of the teaching unit), where he developed an interest in the use of hypnosis for, for example, tooth extraction. He then used his skill in hypnosis for wider medical problems, such as asthma, smoking, and drug misuse. He became a leading member of the Society for Medical and Dental Hypnosis, finally becoming its president. A well respected teacher of anaesthetics to dental students, he also organised many courses on medical and dental hypnosis. He was prominent in the World Federation of Anaesthesiologists. He was obliged to take early retirement in 1972 because of increasingly troublesome cervical spondylosis associated with several cervical disc lesions.

Bill married Marion in 1965. They moved to Hallow in south Worcestershire in 1987, where he enjoyed the country scene until his death. The great regret is that he could not continue as an anaesthetist, but he used his clinical interests and knowledge to great effect in his second career, in medical hypnosis, after a lengthy course of rehabilitation after cervical laminectomies. He died after a melaena complicated by a coronary thrombosis.—EDWARD MATTHEWS, H MAX WHITE

Joseph William Woodward, who was a consultant anaesthetist in the department of neurosurgery, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, and at Birmingham Dental Hospital 1947-72, died 10 July. Born Brownhills, Staffordshire, 29 December 1913; educated Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall, and King Edward VI School, Birmingham, and University of Birmingham (MB, ChB 1940). Served in Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 1943-6.