Frances Felicity Kerr (née Gibbs)

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 10 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:839
  1. Henry R Rollin

    Felicity Kerr (her preferred name) was born on 3 June 1923 into an affluent family in south Wales. It was traditional, in her class and at that time, to send children to boarding school, in Felicity’s case to West Heath School in Kent. Unfortunately, this coincided with the perils of the second world war and the onslaught of the Luftwaffe, which, too frequently, chose to cross the coast dangerously near to the school. In the interests of her safety, Felicity was moved back to Wales, where at Cardiff Technical College, she matriculated.

    Having decided that medicine was to be her métier, she entered University College Hospital School, London, and qualified MRCS LRCP in 1949 and graduated MB BS (Lond) in 1950. She did her house jobs at Redhill Hospital, Surrey, and Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff.

    Her core job, however, was as a clinical assistant at the Manor Hospital, Epsom, known in those days as a hospital for “mental defectives.” She found herself en rapport with her patients, particularly with children and they with her: she was well content with her work which filled her professional life from 1972 until she retired in 1989.

    In 1953 she married Donald Kerr, a barrister but a specialist in executor and trustee work. Duncan, their only child, was born in 1958.

    Outside her work, Felicity was passionately fond of music, particularly opera, and, second in line, of the history of medicine: she was a regular and enthusiastic member of that section of the Royal Society of Medicine, being for a time treasurer.

    Sadly, her retirement was blighted by the increasing severity of her chronic diverticulitis, culminating in surgery and a permanent colostomy. A series of minor strokes culminating in a major stroke put paid to her life: she died on 3 January 2008.

    She leaves behind her son (her husband predeceased her) and a host of friends and colleagues.


    • Former clinical assistant Manor Hospital, Epsom (b 1923; q University College Hospital, London, 1950), died from a major stroke on 3 January 2008.

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