Lives of the fellows

Robert Stewart Duff

b.10 June 1920 d.16 June 1989
MB ChB Glasg(1943) FRFPS(1947) MRCP(1948) MD(1953) FRCPG(1964) FRCP(1971)

Robert Duff was the only son of Duglad McCallum Stewart Duff MA, a teacher of classics at the Boy’s High School in Glasgow, and his wife Matty Simpson Brock Brown. He was educated at the Dunoon Grammar School and studied medicine at the University of Glasgow. After a distinguished career as an undergraduate, he joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and from 1944-46 served as a medical officer aboard troop ships off Normandy, and with a medical supply ship of the British Pacific Fleet at Leyte.

On demobilization he worked initially in Glasgow, and later in London, for - among others - H Barcroft and J McMichael, later Sir John (q.v.). In 1951 he was awarded a Fulbright fellowship and joined the department of internal medicine at Iowa State University at the invitation of W B Bean. Robert's interest in American literature was awakened at this time. His publications, most numerous during the '50s and '60s, were particularly concerned with the nervous and hormonal control of the peripheral circulation; work for which his research team received a gold medal from the American Society for Physical Medicine. During this period, and until 1964, he was senior lecturer in medicine to the department of Sir Charles Stuart-Harris in Sheffield, from where he moved to his final appointment as consultant physician and cardiologist at the City Hospital, Nottingham.

In 1959 Robert Duff married a teacher, Christine, née Dufty, who gave him a family comprising a daughter and three sons - none of whom has taken up a career in medicine. Reading was his passion, both poetry and prose, though he found time to pursue other interests. He was himself a King’s Scout and he became Assistant County Commissioner to the Nottinghamshire Scouts Association until he retired in 1985. He was also a founder member and one time chairman of the Nottinghamshire branch of the British Heart Foundation.

During the winter he enjoyed his membership of a shoot, and sharpened his own and others’ wit at the Magdala debating society. Many of Robert’s personal qualities were reflected in his practice of medicine, in particular the critical faculty he brought to all his encounters. To be acquainted with him was to have mind, imagination, heart and - frequently - endurance tested. Above all, however, he was a man of integrity and outstanding generosity.

D C Banks

[Brit.med.J., 1989,299,1214-5]

(Volume IX, page 139)

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