Lives of the fellows

Leon Julian Grant

b.13 January 1915 d.15 March 1982
MRCS LRCP(1938) MB BS Lond(1938) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1971)

Eldest son of the Reverend Nehemiah Grundstein, Leon Grant was born in East London and was educated locally at the Raine’s Foundation School, one of those élite grammar schools, alas now vanished, which nurtured an abundance of talent among the first generation of poor Jewish immigrant families from Eastern Europe.

He qualified in 1938 at the London Hospital, having entered with distinction as Price scholar. After qualification he was appointed demonstrator in pharmacology at the London Hospital Medical College. Various house jobs followed until 1942 when he was commissioned in the medical branch of the Royal Air Force. He served in England and in the Middle East, being graded temporary specialist in radiology.

Returning to civilian life in 1946 he chose chest diseases as his special subject and served as senior medical registrar at the London Chest and National Temperance Hospitals. He was admitted to the membership of the Royal College of Physicians in 1949.

In 1951 he was appointed consultant physician to the Kensington and Chelsea Hospital Group. In 1967 a further appointment as consultant physician to the National Temperance Hospital was followed in 1969 by appointment to the staff of University College Hospital. Despite his abiding involvement with pulmonary conditions, Leon was to remain one of the dwindling band of general physicians in an increasing age of specialization, and generations of medical students and general practitioners were to benefit from his help and advice, both of which he gave with unstinting generosity.

The last few years of his life were clouded with misfortune. He never quite recovered from the consequences of open heart surgery, and from the loss of his devoted wife Patricia from a brain tumour. There were no children of the marriage, and a small circle of close friends assisted by the Herculean efforts of his amazingly dedicated secretary, Mary Thompson, managed to lighten the burden of his prolonged terminal illness which he bore with great fortitude.

Leon Grant apart from his professional achievements had many and varied interests. From his father he inherited a magnificent baritone voice, which was equally at home in renderings of ancient Hebraic melodies or Schubert lieder. He was an accomplished linguist and was proud of his ability to read medical papers in their original language. He had a large library, much of which was devoted to medical history, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of Georgian silver, many fine examples of which adorned his home.

Above all else he was a pious and learned man of unusual sensitivity, possessed of a love and reverence for knowledge for its own sake, and to whom his Jewish religion was all important.

One can say that he aspired, in the words of the psalmist, to ‘Ascend the mountain of the Lord, and stand in His holy place, with clean hands and a pure heart’.

M Johnstone

(Volume VII, page 223)

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