Intended for healthcare professionals

Obituaries

John Norman AgateHenry Dundas CockburnEdgar Colin Colin-JonesWilfrid Henry Russell CookKenneth HazellFrank Marr MilneJames Joseph MurrayJohn Richard RoseDerek Seymour-JonesJohn Emerson (“Jack”) SimpsonAlice Eleanora TownsleyCatrin Williams

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7180.401 (Published 06 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:401

John Norman Agate

  1. Bryan Moore-Smith

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    Pioneer in British geriatric medicine (b 1919; q Cambridge/London 1942; MD, FRCP; CBE), d 31 October 1998. John decided to enter the fledgling specialty of geriatric medicine in 1953 after four years with the Medical Research Council's industrial unit and a short service commission with the Royal Air Force. He began as a consultant in Bradford, serving 730 beds, then in 1958 he moved to Ipswich with 520. In Ipswich and east Suffolk he was a driving force in the move from essentially long stay services to the acute medicine of older people supported by effective rehabilitation enabling them to return home safely. To this end he planned, obtained funding for, and opened 50 acute beds in 1967 followed by 50 rehabilitation beds 10 years later, having already in the early and mid-1960s overseen the major refurbishment of four peripheral longer stay hospitals. As a clinician he put history taking and physical examination far ahead of laboratory results, as many junior colleagues learnt to their cost. Plagued by back pain, John conducted ward rounds sitting on a shooting stick and kneeling to examine. He set high standards, fought vigorously for his beliefs, and, though possessed of a “short fuse,” he was essentially a kind man. In 1963 he published The Practice of Geriatrics, which became the definitive textbook of the time. An influential office holder of the British Geriatric Society, John also sat on several national committees, and his services to geriatric medicine were marked by award of the CBE in 1978. Outside medicine his interests included music, photography, pottery, writing, and cars. He leaves a wife, Hester; a son and a daughter; and a grandson.

    Henry Dundas Cockburn

    1. Alasdair Fraser

      Former medical superintendent St Mary's Hospital, London (b Ealing 1913; q St Mary's 1939; MC), d 4 December 1998. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1940 and spent most of the war in India and Burma, where he was awarded the Military Cross and was twice mentioned in dispatches. He returned to St Mary's and within a few years was made medical superintendent, a post he held until retirement in 1979. Known and loved by generations of students, graduates, and nurses, “Cocky” was responsible for the medical care and welfare of students and staff, supervised junior doctors, ensured optimal bed occupancy, dealt with all requests for emergency admissions, and alongside the matron and house governor became a central figure. After retirement he lived happily as a bachelor in a remote cottage in Wales, tending the garden he loved, but he continued to support St Mary's and for many years organised the annual golf and cricket tours for St Mary's doctors. He had played rugby for the hospital and later for Richmond and the Barbarians. A memorial service for Dr Cockburn will be held at St James's Church, Sussex Gardens, London W2, on Friday 19 March at 2 30pm.

      Edgar Colin Colin-Jones

      1. D G Colin-Jones

        Consultant dermatologist Sussex and Kent (b 1907; q St Bartholomew's 1937), d 17 December 1998. He trained as a pharmacist and optician and then worked his way through medical school. During the war he worked in the army dermatology unit, of which he became officer in charge. He then went into general practice, but when the NHS was founded he was appointed consultant at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, with sessions as far afield as Tunbridge Wells and Chichester. Although he had a large practice, he refused to allow a waiting list on the grounds that the rash would have altered if left. Despite this heavy workload—four dermatologists were appointed when he retired—he swam regularly, teaching swimming to disabled people and becoming an adjudicator at competitions. He entered local politics and was elected councillor and later mayor of Hove. He resigned from the Tory party because of what he considered an uncaring decision by the Tory council, but was delighted to be re-elected as an independent. His other interests were gardening and bowls, and he was winning bowls competitions in his 80s. Predeceased by one of his children, he leaves a wife, Beatrice; three children (one a professor of gastroenterology); eight grandchildren (one a general practitioner); and two great grandchildren.

        Wilfrid Henry Russell Cook

        1. Michael Cook

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          Former consultant general physician Liverpool and Southport 1949-79 (b Bootle 1914; q Liverpool 1938; MD, FRCP), d 30 December 1998. During the war he served as a surgeon lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy, serving mainly in the Mediterranean. He was a consultant at Broadgreen Hospital and the Southport Infirmary, the David Lewis Northern Hospital, and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. His main interests were the science of electrocardiography and thyroid disease, and he was the first to instigate the multidiscipline thyroid clinic where the physician, surgeon, and nuclear medicine specialist can consult together. Wilfrid Cook was a believer in everyone having an indoor and outdoor hobby; for the former he went for numismatics, specialising in the Anglo-Gallic coins covering the reigns of Henry II to Henry VI, and for the latter, gardening. He enjoyed arranging reunions of his student year.

          Kenneth Hazell

          1. Vera M Hazell

            Former consultant geriatrician (b 1909; q London 1931; FRCP), d 24 December 1998. During the second world war he served in the Royal Air Force, and he then went to Canada as a consultant in rehabilitation to the federal government. When he returned to England he became the first approved consultant of geriatrics to the Walsall and Wolverhampton group of hospitals. He wrote The Social and Medical Problems of the Elderly and produced a report for the World Health Organisation on the care of elderly people in the Netherlands. His next appointment was as consultant geriatrician to the Colchester group of hospitals until he retired in 1974. In 1997 he was awarded the 50th anniversary silver medal of the British Geriatric Society for services to age research and geriatric medicine. He leaves a wife, Vera; three children; nine grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.

            Frank Marr Milne

            1. John S G Blair

              Former general practitioner Coupar Angus (b Insch, Aberdeenshire, 1924; q Aberdeen 1946), died from metastatic carcinoma on 21 November 1998. After service in the Royal Naval medical branch and house posts he moved into general practice until he retired in 1984. He set up the local health centre and worked with the cottage hospitals in Blairgowrie and Meigle. In the country the local doctor cannot hide, and Frank represented the style of doctor perhaps less often seen. His investigation and diagnosis were sure; I used to show his referral letters to students as models of clarity, accuracy, and economy of English. He was tireless in visiting the sick. Frank was an excellent horticulturist; his retirement home at Rosemount could have been that of a professional, and he visited Madeira to seek flowers and meet fellow gardeners. He also enjoyed photography and music. It goes without saying that he was a fisherman. He leaves a wife, Mill, and his sons and a daughter.

              James Joseph Murray

              1. Michael Murray

                Former general practitioner Baillieston, Glasgow (b Larbert, Scotland, 1911; q Glasgow 1934), died from Alzheimer's disease on 20 August 1998. After junior posts in surgery he was called up for service and then entered general practice, settling in Baillieston for 33 years as a singlehanded practitioner. He worked for many years for the St Andrews Ambulance Association and was awarded the association's distinguished service medal. He was a humble man—he declined a national bravery award after saving a small boy from serious injury or death—with a pawky sense of humour and a repertoire of many poems. He was interested in gardening, walking, and reading. A Catholic by faith, he was pious but not unquestioning. Predeceased by a daughter, he leaves a wife, Eileen; three sons and three daughters; and 24 grandchildren.

                John Richard Rose

                1. Michael Rose

                  Former Methodist missionary China and Africa, and general practitioner Kent and Cumbria (b Sandwich 1910; q Cambridge/St Thomas's 1935; FRCS), d 6 November 1998. He passed the primary FRCS in his first year at Cambridge, apparently the only person to have done so. After house jobs he went to Hong Kong in 1937 and then to Canton. China was in the grip of the Sino-Japanese war, and after Pearl Harbor he and his family were interned for four years by the Japanese. After a spell in England to recover he returned to Fatshan Hospital as superintendent, expanding the hospital, while undertaking a wide variety of surgery. In 1950 he was forced to leave by the Communists and set off for Nigeria, then Sierra Leone. Here he oversaw the development of the Nixon Memorial Hospital at Segbwema among the Mende people. In 1958 he became a general practitioner in Eastry in Kent, but divorce and remarriage forced a move to Cumbria, where he worked until retirement in 1983. His last 10 years were spent in a residential home where, despite increasing blindness, he completed his third book, a collection of reminiscences, Traveller's Joy. He leaves three sons (one a surgeon) and two daughters.

                  Derek Seymour-Jones

                  1. John Billinghurst

                    Former physician Royal Hospital Chelsea (b 1928; q Birmingham 1951), d 30 August 1998. After four years of national service in the Royal Navy, Derek set up in private general practice in Aldershot. In 1963 he went to Singapore as a civilian doctor attached to the Ministry of Defence, transferring to Hong Kong in 1967 and ending up as medical superintendent of the Caritas Hospital. After six years of semiretirement in Sri Lanka, Derek obtained a locum physician post at the Chelsea hospital. The post became substantive in 1988 after he had spent two years in the Gambia as medical superintendent of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul. He finally retired in 1993, and he and his wife went to live in Spain. A fair and good natured administrator, Derek was a born raconteur with a fund of amusing anecdotes. He leaves a wife, Cynthia, and a son and a daughter.

                    John Emerson (“Jack”) Simpson

                    1. Hugh Dinwoodie

                      Former general practitioner Edinburgh 1945-76 (b 1914; q St George's 1938; DCH, DPH), died after a stroke on 3 December 1998. During the war he served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in the north Atlantic and Ceylon. He studied for his DPH in Edinburgh with Richard Scott, whose philosophy and academic ideas for general practice he shared. For a time he was a part time lecturer in the department of general practice in Edinburgh, while his interest in occupational health led him to develop a service for the last trawlers sailing from Granton and for several local firms. When he retired to Bexhill he missed the contact with patients and worked as an assistant for three years and sat on medical boards. Predeceased by his wife, Margot, he leaves two sons; a daughter; and six grandchildren.

                      Alice Eleanora Townsley

                      1. N Alan Green

                        Former consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Norwich group of hospitals 1964-72 (b 1907; q Glasgow 1932; MD, FRCOG), d 30 November 1998. Born into a medical family, she was one of two women to graduate at Glasgow in 1932. She had jobs in London before moving to Norwich. Despite her busy obstetric practice, she helped her husband in his private practice and brought up two children. She had a delightful smile and impish sense of humour, which she brought into her practice when the spirit of the voluntary hospital still pervaded the hospitals in the area. When she retired she enjoyed the natural wildlife of the Broads, acted as a generous host—she was renowned for her culinary skills—and supported the activities of the Travelling Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. She leaves a husband, Norman (a former general surgeon); a daughter and a son (a general practitioner); and five grandchildren.

                        Catrin Williams

                        1. Z Hammad

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                          Consultant ear, nose, and throat surgeon Glan Clwyd Hospital, 1956-86 (b north Wales 1921; q Cardiff 1942; FRCS), d 9 October 1998. Besides performing all standard ENT procedures, she was a keen head and neck surgeon and was the first in the area to perform a laryngectomy. Despite this she always said, “the wise surgeon is the one who knows when to keep his hands in his pockets.” She was singlehanded for many years, but became active in medical politics. She was a former president of the Medical Women's Federation and a UK representative on the Women's National Commission and the United Nations Women's Advisory Committee. Catrin was on many local committees and a past chairman of Wales Council for the Deaf. She was dedicated to establishing the married women's retraining scheme. Welsh was her first language, yet she always talked of the benefit of a bilingual culture.

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