Obituaries

Bert Geoffrey AchongLawrence (“Laurie”) Gordon BrockGervais Joly DixonRonald Vincent HarrisHenry Vernon JonesAnne Carmel Marley (née O'Hanlon)William Gordon MillarGavin William MilroyJean Pasmore (née Calman)Bernard Butts ReissKshitindra Nath SenguptaAndrew Charles Sheldon

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7074.150 (Published 11 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:150

Bert Geoffrey Achong

Senior lecturer department of pathology, University of Bristol 1968-85 (b Port of Spain, Trinidad 1928; q University College Dublin 1953; MD, FRCPath), died of a brain tumour on 20 November 1996. He came to Europe at the age of 18, having won the prestigious Jerningham Gold Medal and the Colonial Scholarship. After qualification and training as a pathologist at the Lambeth Hospital he joined the team headed by (Sir) Anthony Epstein studying viruses associated with cancer at the Bland Sutton Institute at the Middlesex Hospital. In 1964 the team discovered the first human tumour virus, later known as the Epstein-Barr virus, and in 1971 Achong discovered a “foamy virus” by electron microscopic examination of human cancer cells, which proved to be the first example of a retrovirus naturally infecting man. But Achong was more than a superb electron microscopist: he taught an immensely popular BSc course in cellular pathology, and had a flair for making difficult concepts seem straightforward, and above all the subject exciting and challenging. He never returned to his native Trinidad to work, but loved the island and visited it regularly, remaining a Trinidadian at heart although in many ways he seemed to have adopted the façade of an Englishman. He loved London, and particularly his home base of Hampstead, which he never entirely deserted even when he was working in Bristol. He made it his business to know about anything cultural—art, theatre, literature, and opera—and travelled widely, always with his Blue Guide, and was a gold mine of information for any would be traveller. It was typical of Achong to make light of his illness: he told me that he first realised that something was amiss when he could no longer do the Times crossword at the expected speed. But, although he lost his power of speech, he remained his old charming self, uncomplaining to the end. [Dorothy H Crawford]

Lawrence (“Laurie”) Gordon Brock


Consultant neuroradiologist Walton Hospital Liverpool 1972-89 (b Honan, China, 1923 to missionary parents; q Otago 1949; FRCS, FRCR), died after a fall and a head injury at home on 10 September 1996. His first degree was in chemistry, and then after qualifying he did research in neurophysiology with Professor (Sir) John Eccles and subsequently in Cambridge. He then trained in surgery, but decided after lumbar disc problems to switch to radiology, working in Oxford from 1967 to 1972. As a consultant at Liverpool he was one of the first to introduce computerised reports. After retirement he took a BA at the Open University and wrote an MSc thesis on George Higgs, a Liverpool jeweller, and was hoping to embark on a PhD. His other interests included photography, local history, and astronomy, while in his youth he had held a pilot's licence for gliders and small planes. He leaves a wife, Jill (a consultant radiotherapist), and three daughters (one of whom has recently qualified in medicine). [Fred W Wright]

Gervais Joly Dixon

Former neurologist Stobhill Hospital Glasgow (b Dublin 1909; q Trinity College Dublin/Charing Cross 1933; MD, FRCP), died of oesophageal cancer on 8 October 1996. After his retirement to Eye, Suffolk, he continued an active life, being an enthusiastic visitor to many parts of the country as a locum in general practice. He read voraciously and had many interests outside medicine. Predeceased by his wife, Kay, he leaves two children, and eight grandchildren. [Anthea Dixon]

Ronald Vincent Harris

Former general practitioner/consultant dermatologist Eastbourne (b London 1910; q St Bartholomew's 1933; MD, DCH), d 27 September. He escaped the fate of his colleagues in the Eastbourne Territorial Army Medical Unit, who were taken prisoner in France in 1940, given that he had been posted to Northern Ireland as a specialist in dermatology. Subsequently he became adviser in dermatology to the 14th Army in India with the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war he resumed general practice in Eastbourne, which he had entered in 1937, also founding the first skin department at the Princess Alice Hospital, becoming consultant dermatologist in 1948. He retired from hospital work in 1975 and from general practice in 1979. A man of firm and positive Christian faith, he was actively involved in the Eastbourne Boys' Scripture Union, and, like many dermatologists, was also an expert photographer. After retirement he became chairman of the local tinnitus self help group and adviser to a local charity. Predeceased by his first wife, Dorothy, he leaves a second wife, Nell, two daughters, and nine grandchildren. [Basil Barkworth, Ian Brown]

Henry Vernon Jones

Consultant surgeon Barry Accident and Surgical Hospital and Llandough Hospital 1952-81 (b Hengoed 1916; q Cardiff 1939; FRCSE), died of respiratory failure after abdominal surgery on 2 October 1996. A prize winning student, he obtained a degree in anthropology during his medical studies, and after house jobs he served in India with the Royal Army Medical Corps and was surgeon in the hospital ship Dorsetshire. After completing his surgical training he became the sole consultant surgeon in Barry, providing unstinting service to the then busy port for nearly 20 years. As a committed whole timer he ensured that all the townspeople were served to the best of his abilities until the surgical facilities were moved to Llandough Hospital. Here he relished his additional role as a teacher, while in 1975 he was elected president of the Welsh Surgical Society. A well read man of quiet, self effacing wit, he made memorable after dinner speeches and when forced by ulcerative colitis to retire early at last had time to pursue his beloved trout fishing. He leaves a wife, Novello, one son (a general practitioner), two daughters, and four grandchildren. [Geraint Vernon Jones]

Anne Carmel Marley (née O'Hanlon)

Former clinical medical officer Newry and Mourne (b 1945; q University College Dublin, 1972), died of carcinoma of the breast on 8 August 1996. Her primary interest was always in community child health, and she was widely known in South Armagh as the “school doctor.” Actively striving to raise the profile of community health, she served as the representative on the Northern Ireland BMA Committee for Public Health Medicine and Community Health in 1983-9, and was also one of the Northern Ireland representatives on the central committee. She was a keen bridge player and enjoyed music, art, and literature. She leaves a husband, Paddy. [Mina Hollinger]

William Gordon Millar

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Perth Royal Infirmary 1961-82 (b 1922; q Glasgow 1944; FRCSE, FRCOG), died of oesophageal carcinoma on 3 September 1996. After house jobs and national service in the Royal Navy he trained at Glasgow and was then a senior lecturer and consultant in the midwifery department of Queen's University Belfast for three years. At an early stage he appreciated the value of ultrasonic scanning and was among the first consultants to have all his patients scanned routinely in pregnancy. Outside medicine Gordon had two interests: his family and planning and bringing to maturity a superb garden containing many fine rhododendrons, of which he had an encyclopaedic knowledge. He leaves a wife, Margaret, and three sons (one a doctor). [John Donald]

Gavin William Milroy


Surgeon Victoria Central Hospital Wallasey 1929-69 (b 1904; q Edinburgh 1926; MD (with commendation), FRCSE), died after a gastroenterostomy to relieve duodenal obstruction from carcinoma of the ampulla of Vater on 6 November 1996. He represented his university at hockey and had a Scottish trial, and after qualification joined his father in general practice, becoming assistant surgeon at Victoria Central Hospital. Severe pulmonary tuberculosis destroyed a lung, excluding him from military service but enabled him to deal with the major surgical problems of the Merseyside bombing during the worst days of the war, and he subsequently gave up general practice. Gavin was a prolific writer, after dinner speaker, and raconteur. He wrote several short stories and one act plays in which he acted and was the producer, one of which—a medical melodrama Relapse —was published in 1938. Having played the banjo in a semiprofessional dance band, he rather surprisingly developed a love of grand opera, becoming one of the first members of the Glyndebourne Festival Society. A keen gardener with an encyclopaedic knowledge of roses and unusual fruit trees, after his retirement he built with his wife a beautiful heather garden and grew Japanese bonsai from seed. His last years were not easy after the death of his wife, Hilda, although he remained stubbornly independent, terrorising the local population with his electric wheelchair and still planting out seedlings until two weeks before his death. He leaves a son (a surgeon), daughter, and five grandchildren (one a surgeon). [Euan Milroy]

Jean Pasmore (née Calman)

Retired general practitioner (b 1909;q University College Hospital 1933), died of a cerebrovascular accident on 26 November 1996. She attended Michael Balint's seminars and became a leading figure in family planning and marital therapy at a time when it was a new specialty, being a founder member of the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine and head of the marital clinic at the Cassel Hospital from 1961 to 1977. Predeceased by one son, she leaves a husband (also a doctor) and two daughters. [Michael Courtenay]

Bernard Butts Reiss


General practitioner Cambridge 1959-90 (b 1925; q St Bartholomew's 1949; MRCP, FRCGP; OBE), died of bladder cancer on 2 August 1996. He was prominent among the doctors who transformed general practice after the second world war by introducing vocational training and pioneering communication skills. He came from a long line of active altruists, his father being the founder of both Welwyn Garden City and Hampstead Garden Suburb, and from both nature and nurture had the ideal background for the new style of general practitioner. Always unhurried and gentle, he broke the family tradition of going to Balliol College Oxford because he thought that Barts would be more like real life, and almost uniquely took his membership of the Royal College of Physicians because he wanted to go into general practice well prepared. Together with Ian Tait, a like minded general practitioner in Aldeburgh, he was the first regional adviser in general practice for East Anglia. He had a key role in founding the Cambridge clinical school, and in 1976 became the first director of general practice studies there. He was one of the first to think of general practice as a specialty and pioneered it as a setting in which to teach medicine to medical students. With his wife, Margaret (a social worker), he shared a vision of health care as giving and teaching, and it saddened them to see the changes in the NHS that made it less personal and more money minded. She died from breast cancer just six weeks before he did, and they leave two sons and a daughter, a further son having died in 1991. [David Mendel, Stephen Reiss]

Kshitindra Nath Sengupta

Former consultant anaesthetist North Manchester General Hospital (b West Bengal 1919; q Calcutta 1944; DA, FFARCS), died of left ventricular failure on 22 October 1996. A prosector in anatomy, he joined the Royal Indian Army Medical Corps, serving in India and abroad, and in 1947 returned to anatomy, being appointed a demonstrator at the Calcutta Medical College. He came to Britain in 1951. He was a man of many interests, including gardening, photography, and music. His favourite pastime was computer programming and he helped set up a computer unit at the Mitra Institute in Calcutta, where he had matriculated. He was unmarried. [Sankar Das Sarkar]

Andrew Charles Sheldon

General practitioner Holsworthy, Devon, 1992-6 (b Hereford 1958; q St Mary's 1981; MRCGP), died suddenly on 10 November 1996. After house jobs in London Andrew gained further experience in Barnstaple and Australia before joining the Holsworthy practice, to which he brought special skills in psychiatry and ophthalmology. He was school medical officer to Whitstone Head School, and his practical counselling talents were also appreciated by other youngsters in the area. I shall miss the sound of laughter coming from his consulting room. He leaves a wife, Debra (a general practitioner), and a 10 month old daughter. [David Hillebrandt]

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