Lives of the fellows

Christie Wilson Gordon

b.13 December 1911 d.9 August 1979
TD(1948) QHP(1974) MB ChB Aberd(1938) DPH Eng(1946) DPH Johns Hopkins(1947) MRCP(1966)FRCP(1971) FFCM(1972)†

Christie Gordon was born at Buckie in Banffshire, the son of John Wilson Gordon, social security officer for the county of Banff. After scholastic education at Buckie Academy, he went into banking but disliked his choice and entered medicine as an undergraduate at Aberdeen, graduating in 1938. He held house officer appointments at the Royal Infirmary in Aberdeen before joining the RAMC at the outbreak of war, serving with distinction in India, Persia, Iraq and the Middle East and achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel and the Territorial Decoration.

On demobilization Gordon was Rockefeller fellow at Johns Hopkins 1946-48, where he was awarded their doctorate in public health. From 1949 to 1952 he was lecturer in hospital administration at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1950 he was appointed deputy senior administrative medical officer to the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board, and seven years later he was appointed senior administrative medical officer, which post (changed in 1974 to regional medical officer) he held with dedication and success for 19 years. His was the largest region in the National Health Service and he administered it with such ability, courtesy and charm that everyone involved in the hospital service with him became his friend and admirer.

He built up the consultant and junior staffs in the hospitals under his jurisdiction to the highest level of excellence; where buildings were inadequate or obsolescent as at Coventry, Burton, Stoke, West Bromwich and Birmingham itself, he carried out enormous rebuilding programmes; he did much to develop the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital and the Birmingham Accident Hospital as centres of excellence; he grasped the need for increased postgraduate educational facilities and was the first SAMO to develop postgraduate centres in his region; he appreciated the vital importance of close links with the board of governors of the United Birmingham Hospitals and the University of Birmingham, and both regarded him as one of their most valued friends.

When he retired he donated a retirement gift from his colleagues to the University, which used it to found a ‘Christie Gordon lecture’, the first of which was given by Lord Hunter of Newington FRCP, and the second by Sir George Godber FRCP.

Christie Gordon was one of the great medical administrators of his day and his achievements stemmed, apart from natural ability and knowledge, from tenacity, charm, gentleness and persuasion. The University of Birmingham showed their appreciation of his achievement by the award of an honorary LLD.

During the war he married Robina Alice Munst, daughter of a writer in the Town Clerk’s department at Aberdeen. There was one son of the marriage who became a solicitor. Christie’s brother, Ian Gordon, was a physician of great distinction on the staff of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Active and interested in the University of Birmingham, his friends and his church, until a few days before his death, Christie suffered a cerebrovascular accident of such magnitude that survival was impossible.

AGW Whitfield

† The list of honorary degrees is too lengthy to include in entirety.

[Brit.med.J., 1979, 2, 506; Lancet, 1979, 2, 428; Daily Telegraph, 14 Aug 1979]

(Volume VII, page 216)

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