Obituaries

Arnold ApplebyAlasdair Patrick BardenBenjamin Tillett DavisWilliam FergusonKenneth Macrae LeightonHarry Naftali LevittFrederick (“Fred”) Smart MelvilleKevin Lorne MerrettJohn Sinclair MillerHerbert Jan PenkalaPhilip Vernon Reading

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7159.685 (Published 05 September 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:685

Arnold Appleby

Former consultant neuroradiologist, Regional Neurosciences Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne (b Houghton le Spring 1928; q Durham 1951; FFR), died of a stroke on 12 June 1998. He trained in radiology after serving in the Royal Navy during the Korean war. A dedicated, highly skilled radiologist, Arnold contributed much to his specialty, publishing on craniovertebral anomalies, Chiari malformation, and syringomyelia. He loved the great outdoors, stalking and shooting red deer in Scotland being his pleasures. Predeceased by his first wife, Joyce, he leaves a second wife, Kathryn, and a son and daughter by his first marriage.

[V L McAllister]

Alasdair Patrick Barden


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General practitioner Isle of Lewis 1992-8 (b Nairobi 1963; q Edinburgh 1987; DRCOG), died in an accident while piloting his own gyrocopter on 13 June 1998. Alasdair had a passion for the Gaelic language and culture, having learnt Gaelic as a medical student, winning a prize for recitation at the Gaelic Mod and singing with the local Gaelic choir, and as a GP conducting the majority of his consultations in Gaelic. He was a man of deep Christian faith, with boundless interests, including acting as medical volunteer flying on rescue missions with the coastguard helicopter based on Stornoway. Active in politics, he was chairman of the constituency association of the Scottish National Party of the Western Isles. He shared his father's interest in heraldry, and at the time of his death was actively pursuing creating a coat of arms for our practice. He leaves a wife, Donna, two sons, and mother (also a doctor) and father.

[Marten Walker, Elizabeth Barden]

Benjamin Tillett Davis

Former senior lecturer in forensic pathology Birmingham (b 1920; q Birmingham 1942; FRCPath), d 22 May 1998. A member of the school shooting team at Bisley, at medical school he became student chairman and joined the army after qualification. One interesting posting was to St Helena, where he controlled an epidemic of poliomyelitis without mortality and was also involved in a riot in the barracks. On demobilisation he became a junior assistant pathologist at Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham, and later obtained an academic appointment at Birmingham, becoming a forensic pathologist, which became his life's main interest. Honorary secretary and then joint director of the Midland Institute of Forensic Medicine, he was Home Office pathologist for many years, reaching the headlines on many occasions.

He took an active part in medical politics, being president of the Midland Branch of the BMA for some years, and gave many years to the Birmingham Medical Institute, becoming its president. Ben was widely read and a medical historian of high calibre with an exceptionally retentive memory. He had a huge library at home, and an honorary librarian colleague at the institute remarked that he collected societies like books. He leaves a wife, Muriel, three daughters, and six grandchildren.

[Peter Gilroy Bevan]

William Ferguson

Area health officer Humberside 1974-82 (b Glasgow 1915; q Glasgow 1938; FFCM), died of metastatic prostate cancer on 25 June 1998. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps from 1939 to 1945, firstly in India, then with the Durham Light Infantry, accompanying the regiment on D Day and later setting up a field station at the Nijmegen Bridge. On demobilisation he entered the public health service, serving in all three Yorkshire ridings, eventually becoming medical officer of health for the East Riding. Always ready to try new solutions to old problems, he was a good listener and a supreme enabler, but could not tolerate slipshod work and expected reports to be confined to no more than two pages. He was involved in many local activities, including the local branch of the BMA, the Rotary Club, and the operatic society, and became deputy lieutenant of Humberside. He was also a keen golfer. He was a modest man and his colleagues learned only from outside sources that he had been made an honorary physician to the Queen. He leaves a wife, Sylvia, and a daughter.

[Anne Valle]

Kenneth Macrae Leighton


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Former professor of anaesthesia University of British Columbia (b Barbados 1925; q Aberdeen 1947: FRCPC), d 19 June 1998. He entered the faculty of medicine at the age of 16, and after qualification practised medicine in Britain, Sweden, the Middle East, Africa, and New Zealand. He served in north Africa with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Emigrating to Canada in 1951, he was initially in general practice but later transferred to anaesthesia. He quickly gained a reputation for original research and received many invitations to visit overseas, appreciating his contacts with Europe, Africa, and Australia. There is, however, a bit more to it than that. He was blown off his feet by a high wind in Patagonia, ran marathons until a few months before his death, rowed the dangerous 500 miles from Vancouver to Prince Rupert to celebrate his 70th birthday, was in charge of 5000 German prisoners of war in the Middle East, climbed Kilimanjaro, and was widely read and the source of endless anecdotes. He retired to his wife's family farm in northern British Columbia. He leaves a wife, Nancy, and a daughter and two sons (not surprisingly, two nurses and two doctors).

[John M Ferries, Donald Munro]

Harry Naftali Levitt

Former general practitioner Marylebone, London (b South Africa 1909; q Cape Town/Guy's 1935; FRCGP; OBE), died of Alzheimer's disease on 1 July 1998. He started general practice in Marylebone in 1935, and during the war served in India with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Deeply committed to the NHS, he was a passionate advocate for the role of the general practitioner and was a founding fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and its chairman of council when it received its royal charter. He worked with Michael Balint's group at the Tavistock Institute, which led to the recognition of the significant part played by psychosomatic elements in everyday disease, later becoming president of the Society for Psychosomatic Research. He founded and ran the student health services for the London School of Economics and Bedford College, and established countless international links with leading general practitioners and related medical organisations all over the world. He was awarded the OBE in 1966 in recognition of his work in general practice. His other passion was the development of medical care and education in the state of Israel, and on retirement he devoted himself to this and as an adviser to the Marie Curie Foundation and several other organisations. He leaves a wife, Herma, and two children.

[David Levitt]

Frederick (“Fred”) Smart Melville

Former medical officer of health Fife (b Alloa 1917; q Edinburgh 1940; FFCM, DPH), died of a heart attack on 1 July 1998. As a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve he was posted almost immediately after qualification to join the cruiser HMS Penelope, serving with her until the siege of Malta in 1942, when the ship received so many shrapnel holes that it was nicknamed HMS Pepperpot. He spent the remainder of the war in a minesweeper squadron. After the war Fred served in various public health posts until 1965, when he achieved his ambition of returning to Scotland, as medical officer of health for Kirkcaldy. An active sportsman, he played cricket for Clackmannan County as a schoolboy and rugby and tennis for Edinburgh, where he was awarded a half blue for the latter. Later his two great sporting loves were curling and golf, and he also took an interest in Rotary and several charities, particularly the Kirkcaldy Boys' Club. He leaves a wife, Betty; two sons; and five grandchildren.

[David W Melville]

Kevin Lorne Merrett


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Consultant anaesthetist Norfolk and Norwich Hospital (b Perth, Australia 1958; q Melbourne 1981; FRCA), died of complications from a disseminated chondrosarcoma on 24 March 1998. After his postregistration year in Melbourne he began anaesthetic training at the Middlesex Hospital, completing this in Britain and Australia before holding a consultant post in a Melbourne group practice for a year. He then returned to Britain and it was while he was a senior registrar at St Mary's Hospital, London, that his illness was diagnosed. Over the next four years he underwent several operations. Sadly, after he spent a year as a consultant at Norwich the disease recurred and he could work for only a year. He had many interests outside medicine, being an accomplished golfer and playing cricket to a high level in Australia. He leaves a wife, Louise, and two sons.

There will be a memorial service at St Mary's Church, Paddington Green, London W2 1LG, on 19 September at 3 00 pm. Details from Dr M Platt, St Mary's Hospital, Praed Street, London W2 1NY.

[Allan Mahoney]

John Sinclair Miller

Consultant anaesthetist Cheltenham and Gloucester 1962-95 (b 1930; q Charing Cross 1953; FFARCS), died of septicaemia complicated by cervical spinal cord ischaemia on 11 May 1998. His major achievement was the establishment of a chronic pain service in Gloucestershire. In this work he was entirely self taught and on occasion doubted he should continue his efforts, but he persisted and the service flourished, being run by four consultants when he retired. Honoured by “his” four surgeons when he retired, John nevertheless had strong opinions and was not always the easiest of colleagues in the department (he would have accepted this as a compliment). He was an extremely erudite and informed man, delighting in obscure knowledge, and also a notably skilful photographer. His precise mind made him a good committee man, and he became president of both the Gloucestershire Division of the BMA and of the Society of Anaesthetists of the South West region. He leaves a wife, Maggie; two daughters; and two grandchildren.

[Peter Young]

Herbert Jan Penkala

Former ophthalmologist Southampton and New Forest (b Ozorkow, Poland, 1920; q St Andrews 1950; DO), died in December 1997. After training he worked in Scotland and England before he joined the Colonial Service in 1953, being posted to Burao, Somalia, as a medical officer, and subsequently to Berbera, where he undertook a varied range of duties. Subsequently he went into ophthalmological practice in Hong Kong and later in Aden before returning to Britain. He enjoyed sailing on the Solent and after retirement to France walking and painting in the countryside. He leaves a daughter and two grandchildren.

[Bill Thom, Anna Penkala]

Philip Vernon Reading


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Consultant otolaryngologist Guy's Hospital 1945-69 (b 1906; q Guy's (university gold medal and distinctions in surgery and midwifery) 1931; MS, FRCS), d 7 July 1998. At Birmingham, where he had hoped to establish himself, the general surgical post did not materialise, and he was thus encouraged to turn to ear, nose, and throat surgery and take up the next vacant appointment. After being appointed to the consultant staff at Guy's he was almost immediately called up to do two years' military service in Egypt, where he began to write a manual for students, Common Diseases of the Ear, Nose, and Throat, which was published in 1950 and which has gone into four editions. From 1948 he brought a new look to ear, nose, and throat surgery at the hospital, just as the frontiers of otological surgery were being expanded and the momentum existed to take over much of the head and neck oncological surgery traditionally regarded as the province of general surgeons. Well before the concept of combined cancer clinics had been recognised he set up a clinic to treat head and neck cancer, and another combined clinic for deaf children. He went on to become an examiner for the fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, being remembered by countless candidates for his fairness and kindness, and in 1968 was elected to the presidency of the section of otology of the Royal Society of Medicine. A lover of books and music, he was also a keen gardener and indulged his passion for wood carving, at which he excelled. Predeceased by his wife, Kathleen, he leaves a daughter.

[O H Shaheen]

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