Lives of the fellows

Edgar Norman Gauld

b.21 January 1915 d.19 September 1986
MB ChB Aber(1937) MRCP(1950) FCCP(1955) FRCPC(1972) FRCP(1984)

Norman Gauld was born in Aberdeen, the second son of William Alexander and Elizabeth Paterson Robertson Gauld, and died suddenly at his home in Hamilton, Ontario.

He was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and the University of Aberdeen at a time when the chairs of medicine and surgery were held by Stanley Davidson [Munk's Roll, Vol. VII, p.136], later Sir Stanley, and James Learmonth, later Sir James, both dedicated and inspiring teachers and both to become doyens in the Scottish medical scene. He graduated in 1937, and after a year of resident posts in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, which had just moved to its prestigious site at Foresterhill, he went to the Bolingbroke first as house physician and later as resident in medicine. Here he came under the influence of Ernest Lloyd, Purdon Martin [q.v.] and Zachary Cope (later Sir Zachary) all of whom were to have an enormous influence on his career and on his life. He stayed at the Bolingbroke throughout the 1940 air raids on London, and thereafter joined the RAFVR, reaching the rank of squadron leader and serving in this country with a night fighter squadron, and overseas for a time in an Air Force hospital in the Bahamas.

Returning to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, following demobilization, as a post-Services registrar for further training in general medicine, he took the London membership and like so many of his contemporaries emigrated in 1952 to Canada to a post, obtained for him by Ernest Lloyd, at the Mountain Sanatorium on the outskirts of Hamilton. From there he sat the Ontario State qualifying examination, and after postgraduate courses at the Bellevue Hospital in New York, and at Duke University in North Carolina, he became a fellow of the College of Chest Physicians in 1955. In the following year he was appointed consulting physician to the Hamilton Civic Hospitals, and in 1960 he became head of department of medicine in the Chedoke General Hospital, with an attachment to McMaster and a teaching commitment there.

In his early fifties he suffered a relatively minor myocardial infarction but was left with angina which greatly restricted his activities, especially during the winter months. He was advised to have coronary bypass surgery, at that time in its infancy and regarded as a hazard, and this was carried out successfully in the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio in 1968.

His interests were in cardiology, but he was a very sound general physician whose opinion was highly valued. He was a man of integrity and a man who brought a sense of calm to the emergency situation. His standards never varied and he earned the respect of all with whom he worked. Alan McNabb, chief of medicine at the Hamilton Civic Hospitals, wrote: ‘Norman was not only a professional colleague but a close personal friend, and gave me good advice and strong support over the years. He was a staunch supporter of all hospital and educational programmes, and was considered an exceptionally good clinical teacher at the bedside. He was an active consultant who in later years did more private practice, looking after a large number of personal friends and patients of long standing.’ He had a large measure of common sense, and his warm human understanding ensured that those who came under his care were treated kindly and sympathetically: his rapport with patients was excellent, later enhanced no doubt by his own health problems.

He enjoyed work and he enjoyed life. He had a wide circle of friends both inside and outside the profession, and nothing gave him greater pleasure than dining and wining with them and their wives. He was a good conversationalist and a gifted raconteur: a story lost nothing in the telling when he was in full flight, and he seemed to have the right riposte for most occasions.

He took a great interest in all sporting activities, and by nature he was a participant and not a spectator. He was blessed with a good eye for ball games, and at school and university he excelled at cricket and tennis. Subsequently he took to golf and, without passing through the happy hacker stages, quickly reduced his handicap to single figures. When stationed in the Bahamas he partnered the Duke of Windsor on the golf course on several occasions, and he played in the RAF golf team just before he was demobilized. He maintained his low handicap into his late sixties - a very good advertisement for cardiac surgery.

In 1956 he married Frances Jefferson Scarlett, the daughter of Emmet Scarlett, MD, an eminent family physician in Hamilton. They had no family but were very happy and there is no doubt that but for her staunch support and devoted care in the late 60s, and afterwards, he would not have survived to celebrate his 71st birthday. She, too, died suddenly some two weeks after his cremation service. Perhaps she wished it that way.

WR Gauld

[Brit.med.J., 1987,294,381; Lancet, 1987,1,285]

(Volume VIII, page 176)

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