Obituaries

Harry AngelmanShevan AbdulKarim AyoubWalter CalvertSheila Mary Ross Dronfield (née Williams)Jean Lilian HallumEdward Harford-ReesFrank Edward HobbsAir Vice Marshall Thomas (“Tom”) Conchar MacdonaldThomas Goronwy OwenAlex Norman Barron StottBasil StricklandJennifer Ann Thomson (née Chown)

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7075.231 (Published 18 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:231

Harry Angelman



Consultant paediatrician Warrington 1950-76 (b Birkenhead 1915; q Liverpool 1938; MD, FRCP), died of a malignant tumour of the sigmoid colon on 8 August 1996. After house jobs he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in India, where among other duties he looked after the Italian prisoners of war, becoming fascinated with the Italian language. Subsequently he translated several medical books from Italian into English, becoming a fellow of the Institute of Linguists, and it was a chance event while on holiday in Verona that gave him the name for a new syndrome. He saw a mediaeval painting by Carotto called “Boy with a puppet,” and then applied the term “puppet children” to three children he had had under his care with an identical condition that had never been described before, recording his observations in a paper in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology in 1965. Subsequently similar examples were recorded in the United States, Australia, and several European countries, while the name of the condition was changed to “Angelman's syndrome.” Visits to the United States enabled him to meet researchers and affected families through the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, and President Clinton paid him a tribute, saying that he had improved lives and brought comfort to many. “On behalf of all those who have benefitted from your work, I thank you for a job well done.” He leaves a wife, Audrey. [Audrey Angelman, Robert Todd]

Shevan AbdulKarim Ayoub

Staff grade obstetrician and gynaecologist, Poole General Hospital 1992-6 (b Mosul, Iraq 1951; q Baghdad 1974), died of myocardial infarction on 17 February 1996. He travelled to Britain for postgraduate study in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1978 and did a variety of house jobs as well as a year in general practice in Bournemouth before being appointed at Poole in 1992. He never lost his links with his Kurdish roots, maintaining contacts with similar political refugees and occasionally making visits to his homeland to see his family and friends. He leaves a long term partner, Pamela. [Richard Henry]

Walter Calvert

Former consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Stepping Hill Hospital Stockport (b 1915; q Manchester 1940; FRCOG), died of a stroke on 14 November 1996. After house jobs he was directed to work in civilian hospitals, where he could pursue his first love—obstetrics and gynaecology—becoming particularly proficient in the repair of prolapse. His whole professional life was centred in Stockport, and at Stepping Hill he established and became first tutor of the postgraduate centre and supervised the building of a new maternity unit. He was chairman of various medical committees, including the local branch of the BMA and the North of England Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society. His hobbies were sailing, walking the Lake District fells, and a little golf. He leaves a wife, Mary; a son (also a gynaecologist) and daughter; and five grandchildren. [Mary and John Calvert]

Sheila Mary Ross Dronfield (née Williams)



Pioneer of family planning in York (b 1912; q Royal Free 1935; OBE), died from colon cancer on 27 March 1996. Long before family planning was respectable or acceptable Sheila Dronfield recognised the plight of disadvantaged women with ever enlarging families and their inability to control their fertility. To counter this she established a domiciliary service that grew rapidly to over 500 families in the first four years. Outside medicine she had a full life. She was the wife of the headmaster of St Peter's School, York, and was fully involved in its life for 28 years. She was a magistrate and later the first woman chairman of the bench in York, while through her medical and other work she encountered many of the local poor and criminal families, whom she welcomed into her home in times of need. She was awarded the OBE in 1979 for her work for the community. On retirement she developed new interests, becoming a guide for York Minister, and after her husband's death from Alzheimer's disease establishing a local group for families of sufferers. She worked for the hospice and often, even when over 80 years old, would sit up all night with patients dying at home. Discovering in January 1996 that she had liver metastases from colon cancer, she lived her last two months with the same vigour that had marked the rest of her life, and the thanksgiving service at St Peter's School chapel was packed with family and friends. She leaves four children (one a doctor); and 10 grandchildren (one a doctor, another a medical student). [Michael W Dronfield]

Jean Lilian Hallum

Former obstetrician Sorrento Maternity Hospital Birmingham (b St Andrews 1913; q St Andrews 1936; MD, FRCOG), died after a stroke on 24 September 1996. After house jobs she joined Dr Mary Crosse at the Sorrento Maternity Home in 1938, then a municipal home with 20 beds and the recently established premature baby unit (the first in the country). Shortly after this Dr Crosse took over the paediatrics while Jean took over the obstetrics, devoting the rest of her professional life to developing Sorrento into a maternity hospital with 80 beds and up to 2500 deliveries a year. This was achieved over time by the purchase of several Victorian houses, the only purpose built buildings being the premature baby unit, the boiler house, and a delivery and theatre suite, which was a model of compact efficiency. All but one of the wards were two, three, or four bedded—difficult to staff, but friendly and homely for patients. Despite, or perhaps because of, the difficult circumstances Sorrento became a centre of excellence, with an enviable record of research and teaching at all grades, much loved by staff and patients alike. All this was due to the drive, initiative, and devotion of Jean Hallum, whose spirit permeated the whole hospital. Outside Sorrento Jean was equally active, being an ex-president of the Medical Women's Federation and an enthusiastic member of several medical clubs. At university she had gained a half blue for golf, and she was active in gliding, horse riding, hill walking, and climbing. [H N Mansfield]

Edward Harford-Rees

Former consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Eastbourne (b 1916; q St Bartholomew's 1940; FRCSE, FRCOG), died of carcinomatosis on 11 October 1996. Having served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in India, he was appointed sole consultant at Eastbourne in 1951, where he did much to raise the standards of care over the next 30 years, particularly in one of his principal interests, toxaemia of pregnancy. He found relaxation in music, walking on the downs, and a happy family life. He leaves a wife, Joan, and two daughters and their families. [Ian Brown, Bill Watson]

Frank Edward Hobbs

General practitioner Cradley, Staffordshire, 1947-78 (b West Ham 1914; q King's 1942), died of a stroke on 6 November 1996. Having graduated first in chemistry, he worked initially in the printing ink industry and qualified during the war. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, specialising in anaesthetics and seeing action in Normandy and Germany and then being posted to Africa. After the war he joined a general practice in the Black Country, continuing to give anaesthetics and serving as secretary of the local medical committee for several years. In his 60s he gained a new lease of life through a hip replacement by (Sir) John Charnley, trekking in the Himalayas, travelling overland to India and the Sahara, and crossing Canada to Alaska by railway. At home he devoted himself to his family, garden, church, and local choir. He leaves a wife, Peggy; five children (one a psychiatrist); and eight grandchildren. [Mike Hobbs]

Air Vice Marshall Thomas (“Tom”) Conchar Macdonald

Thomas had a long career in the Royal Air Force (b Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire 1909; q Glasgow 1932; MD (high commendation), DPH, AFC, CB), d 8 September 1996. He joined the Royal Air Force medical branch in 1933, serving in Iraq and Egypt, and was with the Central Medical Establishment in London at the outbreak of war. Assigned to special medical duties in the Middle East in 1940, he trained as a pilot and flew his own Spitfire for three years on medical duties, subsequently returning home as deputy principal medical officer (flying) to Fighter Command and being awarded the Air Force Cross. After the war he was responsible for designing two Royal Air Force hospitals in Germany, and thereafter held several senior posts, retiring in 1966. He led a very full and active life, and was a keen yachtsman and angler. He leaves a wife, Katharine. [J M Frew]

Thomas Goronwy Owen

Anaesthetist Clwyd and Deeside hospital management committee 1960-76 (b 1909; q Cardiff 1935; DA), d 4 October 1996. His medical studies were interrupted by family illness, necessitating his taking responsibility for the family grocery business. After qualification he held appointments in infectious diseases, which he enjoyed, and during the war joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and travelled extensively. The most frightening experience of his life was crossing the Rhine in full flood and seeing the force of the water just under the Bailey bridge. He did not enjoy general practice, which he undertook to repay the doctor who had looked after his mother while he was in the army, and turned to anaesthesia, training in Liverpool. A private and humble man he was well turned out, and was once asked how he managed to look so fresh when called out to emergencies; it was because he refused to have a telephone in his bedroom in case he went back to sleep and his wife would run downstairs to answer the phone and say that he was coming. As a Welsh speaker he remained true to his Christian Cardi roots and the Welsh language, culture, and countryside throughout his life. He leaves a wife, Tilda; and a daughter (a consultant in palliative care). [Buddug Owen]

Alex Norman Barron Stott

Head of medical service John Lewis Partnership 1985-95 (b Aberdeen 1930; q Aberdeen 1954; FFOM), died of carcinoma of the colon on 28 October 1996. After graduation Norman joined the Royal Air Force, attending the atomic bomb trials at Woomera, in Australia. His consequent interest in the hazards of radiation led him to occupational medicine, and thereafter he served with the Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell, being promoted to chief medical officer and publishing papers on radiation protection, lead uptake, and food irradiation. He was a founder member of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. With the death of his first wife, Maureen, in 1985 he decided on a break from the health care of radiation workers and was appointed as head of the medical services at John Lewis Partnership, throwing himself into its democratic organisation and serving on many elected committees. He was Thackrah lecturer in 1985 and president of the Society of Occupational Medicine in 1988. He leaves a second wife, Fiona; two sons (one a doctor); a daughter; and two grandchildren. [W M Dixon]

Basil Strickland

Former consultant radiologist Westminster and Royal Brompton Hospitals (b 1922; q St George's 1945; FRCP, FRCR), died of septicaemia after severe gastroenteritis on 4 September 1996. His early training in medicine and paediatrics accounted for his clinical acumen, which so often gave him the edge in his radiological diagnoses throughout his career. His numerous publications and specialist interests were wide ranging, including arteriography and later the imaging of the chest—particularly high resolution thin section computed tomography of interstitial lung disease—a revolutionary technique which he pioneered and which has great diagnostic value. A gifted lecturer and teacher he examined for the final fellow- ship examination of the Royal College of Radiologists and was editor of the British Journal of Radiology and Investigative Radiology. He was a good swimmer, an enthusiastic gardener, and a lover of classical music and opera. He leaves two daughters. [Nicola H Strickland]

Jennifer Ann Thomson (née Chown)

Former part time senior clinical medical officer West Dorset (b Hove 1941; q Guy's 1965), died on 16 September 1996 in a road traffic accident in Namibia on her way to the airport as she and her husband were returning home after two years' Voluntary Service Overseas. She was a well known and popular figure, renowned for her tenacity in obtaining appropriate services for local children, both individually and collectively, often against considerable odds. Her habit of using the royal “we” could be disconcerting, given her multiplicity of interests, but it illustrated her total involvement. To launch into a new venture at the age of 53, following in her children's footsteps to work abroad, was so brave that she was not just respected but revered by those of us left at home— while her letters, depicting paediatric and anaesthetic achievements as well as disappointments, were fascinating. She leaves a husband, Michael (a general practitioner); two daughters; and a son (also a doctor). [Margaret Barker]