Lives of the fellows

Ian Ronald Simson Gordon

b.15 June 1915 d.12 June 1979
MB BChir Cantab(1939) MRCP(1942) MA MD(1944) DMRD(1952) FRCP(1970) FRCR(1975)

Ian Gordon was born at Bath, the son of Ronald Grey Gordon, a medical practitioner, and his wife, Agnes Theodora, daughter of George Henderson, a farmer. He was educated at Charterhouse and Cambridge, graduating from the London Hospital in 1939. At the outbreak of the second world war, Ian Gordon was considered unfit for military service, and from 1940 to 1942 he was house physician and registrar at the Royal United Hospital, Bath. In 1950 he transferred to Bristol to train as a radiologist, and thereafter he spent the remainder of his working life in Bristol, becoming one of the most important radiologists in Britain in a rapidly developing specialty.

Ian married Diana, daughter of Alan Alexander Geekie, a dental practitioner, in 1947. They had a large family of six children; four sons and two daughters. He and his wife were extremely hospitable, and many of the overseas trainee radiologists who came to Britain remember the quiet warmth and genuine welcome extended to them in the Gordons’ country home.

Within the teaching group in the University of Bristol, Ian took over responsibility for the Children’s Hospital and the Maternity Hospital, and in due course became one of the leading paediatric radiologists, not only in Britain but also in Europe. He was a founder member of the European Paediatric Radiologists Club, and never missed its annual meeting. He was also a founder member of the radiologists group within the British Paediatrics Association, which held a very successful first meeting at York in 1979. For many years he was secretary of the medical staff committee of the Children’s Hospital and later its chairman, and he was largely instrumental in creating the Bristol Bone Dysplasia Registry. Cases were sent to him from far and wide for his opinion. His book Diagnostic Radiology in Paediatrics, published jointly with FGM Ross, became the standard book on paediatric radiology in Britain.

As a teacher, Ian Gordon was indefatigable in stimulating younger people to think. He always had time to stop what he was doing and explain. He held innumerable regular weekly sessions with paediatricians and surgeons, and others, which were enormously popular as teaching and learning sessions with both undergraduate and postgraduate students; he took an active part in all the department’s regular teaching sessions, contributing cases to the Tuesday lunchtime case discussion seminars and, for 25 years, he also organized the weekly academic lecture. He was greatly admired and respected at Bristol, and held in deep affection.

Ian was an unassuming man. He and his wife were intrepid travellers and caravaners, driving to many remote parts of Europe for their holidays. He had a heart attack in 1963, followed by a second five years later. He refused, however, to make an invalid of himself and lived a full professional, family and social life until the end. He died while playing tennis.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
Valérie Luniewska

[Brit.med.J., 1979, 2, 557]

(Volume VII, page 217)

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