Lives of the fellows

Thomas Grahame Fox

b.28 November 1915 d.9 March 1989
MB ChB Otago(1939) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1974)

Thomas Grahame Fox, known to his friends as ‘Ham’, was born at Masterton, New Zealand, where his father Thomas Benjamin Fox was a merchant. His mother Veronica Bridget, née O’Brien, was the daughter of a soldier in the British Army, serving in New Zealand during the Maori wars. He was educated at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, and Otago University, where he graduated in medicine. After graduation he served as a house physician in Auckland Hospital before war service with the Middle East forces, during which time he was officer in charge of the New Zealand Hospital for venereal disease. From 1944-45 he was medical registrar at the Auckland Hospital, and then came to England for postgraduate study at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith. He obtained his membership of the College in 1947 and was appointed house physician at the Brompton Hospital. His background was multidisciplinary; he was well prepared as a physician before settling into his life’s work on paediatrics. While on war service he had published, with E D Burnard (q.v.), material on neurological problems in soldiers; the two authors having previously submitted what appears to have been the first recorded diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease of the thyroid to be published in New Zealand (New Zealand Medical Journal, 1940). Later publications in the Journal related to herpangina, with A M Murphy, and non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections in childhood. Before returning to New Zealand he was successively house physician and assistant physician at the Children’s Hospital, Sheffield. In 1948 he served as junior medical specialist and medical tutor at the Auckland Hospital and was appointed assistant physician in the Childrens’ Hospital in 1951, becoming a senior paediatrician in 1954. At this time he served on the Hospital Medical Officers’ Advisory Committee and, as a nominee of the Medical Association of New Zealand, on the Medical Education Committee of the Medical Council. He retired from hospital and private practice in 1980.

In 1957 he married Anne Elizabeth née Miller, daughter of a merchant importer. The marriage was both happy and rewarding. They lived in the pleasant Parnell house in which Anne was born, which reflected the stability he prized, and they had three children - Tom, Margot and Sarah. Anne’s hospitality was unfailing and visits to the Fox household were full of warmth and laughter since Ham was renowned for his robust observations on the human comedy. He was one of the colourful personalities of Auckland medicine and a demanding perfectionist in everything he undertook. He had a formidable mastery of basic English and his comments were dry, direct and illuminating. He was intolerant of pretentiousness or slipshod organization and did not hesitate to express his displeasure. His direct approach was occasionally somewhat startling but in essence he was a warm and generous man whose loyalty never faltered. He contributed much to the superannuation structure of salaried hospital staff and to the evolving child health services. In his leisure time he enjoyed shooting, trout fishing and building. Sadly, his later years were clouded by ill health but he was sustained by his family’s love and his own lifelong faith.

D Doyle

[NZ Med J., 10 May 1989]

(Volume IX, page 180)

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