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Keith Bernard Rogers

Former consultant microbiologist Birmingham Children’s Hospital (b 1910; q St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London, 1934; MD), d 2 July 2005.

Keith Rogers was born in London in 1910. His father was a dental surgeon, practising in Buenos Aires. His elder brother, Claude, OBE, was a famous artist, a member of the Euston Road Group, a teacher at the Slade, and subsequently professor of fine arts at Reading University. His younger sister, Beryl, was a pianist and social worker.

He was educated at St Paul’s, whence he won a scholarship to St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London. He qualified as a doctor in 1934. He was an Olympic standard rifle shot, a member of the King’s Hundred at Bisley.

Until 1941 he was a research assistant under Sir Almoth Wright and Sir Alexander Fleming, part of the illustrious team in the inoculation department at St Mary’s, concerned with immunology, early blood transfusions, and the development of sulphonamides, and, above all, penicillin. Indeed, Keith Rogers was probably the first patient to be treated clinically with penicillin ointment. He was to captain the London University rifle team in an important match when he developed severe conjunctivitis. The penicillin worked and the match was won.

From 1941 to 1946 he was the area pathologist in north-east England, based at Shotley Bridge, County Durham. There was concern, happily unfounded in the event, that poor wartime diet might contribute to epidemics of children’s diseases. In 1946 he went with the RAMC to Italy, in a similar role and for similar reasons, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel and returning in 1948.

From then until his official retirement in 1975, he was the consultant microbiologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where he ran a happy and efficient unit, doing a great deal of teaching, WHO work, and declining more than one professorial chair, fearing that he would then have to curtail his clinical presence on the wards, which he regarded as paramount in importance. He spent the first 10 years of his retirement in locum microbiologist roles in the Midlands and London, finishing with a six year stint at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow.

He was a founding fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists.

Keith married Marjorie Arnold in 1938. She died in 1968. His daughters, Barbara and Carol, were born in 1939 and 1943. His son, David, an anaesthetist, was born in 1946 and died in 1999. He had six grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. He married his second wife, Yvonne (Bunny) Pinto, in 1976 and was much loved and cared for in his old age. He died in London. [Peter Rossiter]