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ss triple helix - winter 2007,  Obituaries


Betty Cowan OBE

(q Glasgow 1951; d 10 September 2006)

Family circumstances prevented Betty embarking on a career in medicine until she was in her early thirties. During her first year at Glasgow University she came to personal faith in Christ, and this mapped out her medical missionary career. In 1958 she joined the staff of the Christian Medical College (CMC) in Ludhiana, India.

Betty introduced the concepts of medical research and evidence based medical practice to the College. In 1969 she became professor of medicine. The award of the OBE in 1979 was fitting recognition of her pioneering community work and research, which eventually focused on the plight of the under-three female child in poverty stricken areas; she significantly decreased infant mortality in this vulnerable group. From 1982 to 1984 she was College principal. In the 1980s the Medical Council of India introduced a new community based medical curriculum; Betty organised training visits for her medical faculty to other parts of the world where this new curriculum was up and running.

In 45 years at CMC, Betty saw many changes. She combined efficient doctoring with care and concern for the person behind the disease. She strengthened faith in Jesus Christ and encouraged in times of difficulty. Scores of tributes from those she influenced around the world give thanks for her life.

Elspeth Campbell

Marie Patricia Gilbert

(q St George's 1958; d 25 October 2006)

Patricia Gilbert was a former senior clinical medical officer for South Warwickshire. Author of 18 medical books, published in more than 20 languages, she began her writing career with weekly articles for Nursery World. Her books included Common Childhood Illnesses,The A-Z of Syndromes and Disorders, and Textbook of Nursery Nursing, which is still used in the training of nursery nurses.

Born in London, Patricia gained a BSc at Chelsea Polytechnic and qualified at St George's Hospital. After a while in obstetrics and gynaecology, she moved to Warwickshire in the 1960s and started work in child welfare clinics and schools, and then spent time as a locum GP. In the mid-1970s she became senior clinical medical officer and a visiting senior lecturer at Warwick University. Friend and colleague Jean Constantine said,'Pat loved her work and was totally dedicated to her patients in schools and clinics alike. Her warm personality and caring nature won her enormous respect in the locality'.

Patricia was secretary of her local PCC, organist at Welford parish church for many years and a member of three local choirs. Widowed in 2001, she threw herself into community work for her church and Warwick Hospital League of Friends. Predeceased by her husband Victor, she leaves two daughters, Jenny and Soozy, and two grandchildren.

Peter and Jenny Brookes, Soozy Gilbert

John Michael Rice-Oxley

(q Oxford 1943; d 19 May 2006)

After spells in military hospitals in Oxford and India during the war, Michael was appointed consultant physician to the Chesterfield Royal in 1953, and sole consultant physician for Worksop and Retford. At Kilton (now Bassetlaw) Hospital in Worksop, he lectured nurses, oversaw medical students, and founded a branch of the British Diabetic Association. An authority on ulcerative colitis, his wide medical experience included hypnosis in the treatment of asthma.

Michael is remembered for his integrity, gentleness of spirit, and concern for others. President of Bassetlaw League of Friends, and chairman of Worksop Civic Society and Music Club (also president of the latter), his dedication to his community was unwavering. His contribution to church life was, likewise, enormous and included being churchwarden and the first lay chairman of the Deanery Synod. He was a keen rambler, reader and music lover, and an enthusiastic photographer. A loving husband, his wife Anne survives him. An inspiration to his three sons and six grandchildren, Michael was the hub of a vast network of family and friends whom he ensured stayed connected.

Tom and Andrew Rice-Oxley

Robert Sibbald Walker

(q Glasgow 1944; d 29 April 2006)

Robert Walker was born in Glasgow, studied medicine there and completed house jobs in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Enlisting as a lieutenant with the Royal Army Medical Corps, he spent three years in India, surviving a skull fracture when his army lorry overturned.

Robert obtained his MD in 1948. Until his retirement in 1988, he worked as a physician in Law Hospital in South Lanarkshire. In 1961 he took his family to Boston for a year as a Harvard University research fellow. Subsequently, he developed Law Hospital's cardiology and diabetic services. He taught undergraduates, examined for the RCP and was President of the Scottish Society of Physicians in 1984. A former colleague summed him up as,'a physician with unrivalled determination, driven by a commitment to the NHS and the very highest of standards'; also, 'a man who engaged with patients from all walks of life with understanding, care and humour'. Throughout his professional life he was involved with CMF, serving as Scottish representative on the executive committee and as UK chairman between 1983 and 1985. He organised annual CMF lectures at the RCP and RCS.

Robert keenly supported medical mission and led Whitecraigs Boys Crusader class and camps. He loved travel and took his family round Europe, delving behind the Iron Curtain. Devoted to his family, Robert is survived by Catherine, his wife of 55 years, five children and ten grandchildren. They gave him much pleasure.

Alison Walker
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