Lives of the fellows

Frank Hugo Howarth

b.18 July 1916 d.1 January 1981
MRCS LRCP(1941) MA MB BChir Cantab(1941) MRCP(1948) DMRD(1950) FRCP(1966)

Frank Howarth was born at Pelsall, Staffordshire and received his scholastic education at Queen Mary’s School, Walsall. From there he went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he achieved a double first in the Natural Sciences Tripos and was awarded numerous exhibitions and prizes. In addition, while at Cambridge he obtained the primary FRCS and played rugby for the Cambridge University Medical Society. From Cambridge he went to the London Hospital and graduated in 1941. Thereafter he served with distinction in the RAMC in Burma and Arakan, achieving the rank of major and the grade of medical specialist and officer in charge of medical division despite the fact that he was only in his twenties. Returning to civil life he was medical registrar to the president of the College, Lord Brain, and the Treasurer, Dick Bomford, at the London, and obtained the membership in 1948. He also became supervisor of studies in physiology at his old college, Corpus Christi.

However, in 1948 he decided to devote his life to diagnostic radiology, and after five years of increasingly responsible posts at the London Hospital, and a period of postgraduate study in Stockholm, he was appointed consultant radiologist to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, and lecturer in radiological anatomy in the University of Birmingham in 1954. In these appointments he spent the remainder of his working life and made a contribution that cannot be overestimated. He pioneered the use of the Seldinger technique in angiography in Great Britain, but this was the least of his achievements.

His training as a physician and his great intellectual capacity made him a radiologist towering above his colleagues. Whenever asked for help, he would immediately grasp the problem and identify how much he might contribute to its solution. In cases of especial difficulty or complexity he was always the final arbiter. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital never had a more devoted servant, nor one who was so universally respected for his humility, his kindness and his invariable courtesy as well as for his expertise and leadership. The many radiologists he trained are a lasting reminder of a man whose attributes may never be equalled. He died suddenly from a heart attack on New Year’s Day 1981, at the age of 64.

Frank had married Lucy Hopkins, once a theatre sister at the London, in 1946, and they had two sons.

AGW Whitfield

[Brit.med.J., 1981, 282, 328; Lancet, 1981, 1, 228; Times, 7 Jan 1981]

(Volume VII, page 278)

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