Lives of the fellows

Reay Ignatius Eakin

b.3 July 1917 d.14 October 1993
MB BS Sydney(1940) MRACP(1946) MRCP(1950) FRACP(1960) FRCP(1977)

Reay Eakin, the youngest of four children, was raised on a dairy farm near Kempsey. His dislike of 3am milking sessions and his eagerness to learn led him to follow in the steps of his brother, Matt, who had already graduated in medicine before Reay entered high school. Reay was a foundation student at St John's College, Woodlawn, near Lismore, and he spent his last two years of secondary school at St Ignatius College, Riverview. He won an exhibition scholarship to Sydney University and graduated in medicine with honours. His first resident posts, first as junior and then as senior, were at St Vincents Hospital and for his final two years he was medical superintendent. He then saw war service in Borneo which left him with an overwhelming reluctance to speak of his experience, except to make reference to the pain and suffering caused by war.

In 1946 he obtained his membership of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He joined John O’Brien in general practice and remained there for three years. He then came to the UK with his family and gained his membership of the College. After one more year in general practice he set up on his own in Macquarie Street as a general physician and was granted a post as honorary physician at St Vincents Hospital. He was also visiting physician to St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn, and to Bankstown District Hospital. He remained at St Vincent’s as a consultant physician, teacher and examiner, until his retirement from the public hospital in 1982. During his teaching career he encouraged his students to practice medicine not only as a science but also as an art.

Eakin had a keen interest in allergy, which was fuelled by one of his children being asthmatic. He became progressively more involved in the practice of clinical allergy, which led to further study in the USA in 1967. He was also very active in the affairs of the Australian College of Allergy, being its president in 1984. He applied his expertise in the management of allergic disease within his practice, providing relief to many who had experienced much ill health and discomfort in their lives. He treated not just the illness but the whole person and gained his patients’ trust and affection. Following retirement from the public hospital, Reay continued his private practice at St Vincent’s Medical Centre until forced by ill health to retire in 1989. He found retirement difficult as he missed his practice, his patients and his fellow practitioners.

In 1941 he married Kathleen Anne, daughter of James Henry Sallaway, and they subsequently had four daughters and five sons. His leisure interests included squash, surfing, fishing and bird watching.

R J Bullock

(Volume X, page 123)

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