Wilfred Ernest Chapman

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 27 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2068
  1. Robert Catty

Wilfred Chapman (“Wilf”) was born and bred in Durham and worked there for most of his life. From the Durham Johnston Grammar School he went to Newcastle to study medicine. Having worked in orthopaedics he joined the Royal Air Force in 1942 and became medical officer to an Australian fighter squadron before serving in Normandy and onwards into Germany. After being demobbed in 1946 he joined the well established Claypath Medical Practice in his home city, where he stayed for the rest of his working life.

He was much loved by patients and colleagues and, with his profound local knowledge, humanity, and great wisdom, he became a role model for the many trainees who were attached to the practice. He was known for always being interested in people as individuals rather than as patients—an attitude that influenced the whole practice. In addition to general practice he found time to give anaesthetics for the local orthopaedic department, sit on the Council of Durham University, be a trustee of the Freeman of Durham City, and enjoy fishing in his spare time. He was a founder member of the Royal College of General Practitioners but was never involved in local medical politics. He retired in 1986.

During his long retirement he enjoyed his garden and developed his considerable talent as a water colour artist. He never lost his sense of humour or his curiosity about, and love of, life. He always enjoyed new challenges—even taking up Sudoku at the age of 92 and latterly toying with the idea of an iPad 2. He had an active social life with his large circle of friends—and was dressed, ready to go out to lunch, on the day he died.

His wife, Louie, died in 2006, and he is survived by his two daughters, four grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;344:e2068


  • Former general practitioner, Durham City (b 1915; q Newcastle upon Tyne 1939; ), d 21 January 2012.