Lives of the fellows

Kenneth Stuart Hetzel

b.26 September 1897 d.24 March 1979
MB BS Adelaide(1920) MD(1926) MRCP(1923) FRACP(1938) FRCP(1946)

Ken Hetzel was born near Tanunda in South Australia. His grandfather, Carl Hetzel, migrated to Adelaide from Silesia, and his father, Frederick, had a dairy and cheese factory. He was educated at Gawler High School and subsequently at Prince Alfred College, where he was a prefect in his final year. He had a brilliant career at the Adelaide Medical School, graduating top of his year in 1920.

His initiative and ability earned him research assistantships with TR Elliott and CR (later Sir Charles) Harington after he travelled to London in 1922. Regrettably illness prevented him from subsequently accepting a Beit fellowship to continue research in London, but after several more years in Adelaide in general practice, and as assistant physician to the Adelaide Children’s Hospital, he worked with the leading world figures Minot and Castle at Thorndike Laboratory, Boston, while holding a Rockefeller travelling fellowship. Again however, his hopes of an academic career were frustrated, this time by the world depression.

A foundation fellow of the RACP, he rapidly established himself as a leader in medicine in Adelaide. He was director of medical studies and subsequently dean of the Medical Faculty in the Adelaide University, and presided over the unprecedented expansion of that Faculty and the appointment of its first four clinical professors. He was also a member of the University Council for 15 years. He was responsible for securing approximately $700,000 in donations to the University of Adelaide from several benefactors, and had the pleasure of seeing his elder son Basil appointed to the inaugural Michell chair of medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

In 1945 he travelled through China for 12 months for UNRAA as travelling professor of medicine.

Although he retired from his position as senior honorary physician at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1957 at the age of 60, his energy and interest in medicine carried him on in active community medical service up to the age of 80. A well organized, efficient and charming man, he would willingly come in to offer assistance to his hospital interns at any time of the day or night. In 1922 he married Elinor Watt; they had two sons both of whom have themselves achieved eminence in medicine.

R Hecker

(Volume VII, page 258)

<< Back to List