Lives of the fellows

Alexander Henderson Imrie

b.16 June 1908 d.26 February 1999
MB ChB Glasg(1930) FRFPS(1933) MRCP(1933) MD(1948) FRCP(1951) FRCP Glasg(1962) MRCP Edin(1965) FRCP Edin(1976)

Alexander Henderson Imrie was a consultant physician at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He was born in Shetland and educated initially at Larchfield School, Helensburgh, and then at Glasgow High School. He graduated with commendation from Glasgow University in 1930.

When he was appointed assistant physician to the outpatients department in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1932, it was customary for junior physicians to be in general medical practice, and he followed this tradition. He always admitted his debt to his experience in general practice. However, he supplemented both his experience and income by becoming assistant pathologist in the department of pathology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary from 1932 to 1939. He became a lecturer in medicine and assistant to the Muirhead professor of medicine at Glasgow Royal Infirmary from 1932 to 1934. During this period he was also professor of physiology at St Mungo’s College, Glasgow.

In 1939 he became a part time consultant physician to the Elder Cottage Hospital. In the same year he joined the RAMC, becoming a lieutenant-colonel in charge of a medical division by the end of the war. During his war service he met and married his wife Vera, a nursing sister serving in the Middle East.

He resumed his peacetime career at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, as an assistant physician. In 1952 he became part time consultant physician to the Oban Hospitals. This was followed in 1957 by appointment to the post of consultant physician in administrative charge of wards at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He held his consultant posts until his retirement in 1973.

At the end of the war, the Royal Faculty (now College) of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow was engaged in making far-reaching changes in its administration. He became the first honorary secretary of the College, a post which he occupied from 1953 to 1957. He was a regular examiner at Glasgow University, and examined on many occasions for the membership examinations of the Glasgow, London and Edinburgh Colleges. His calm demeanour was effective in allaying undue nervousness in both undergraduate and postgraduate examinees.

Alec Imrie was a gentleman of kindly disposition, with an impish sense of humour, which he used rarely, but to great effect in puncturing inflated egos. In administrative charge he ran a happy ship. He was a general physician of distinction. His wards were a popular choice with students for their clinical teaching. He took a great interest in, and lent support to, all members of his junior staff. He derived great satisfaction from seeing his juniors achieve their ambition and become consultants, many of some distinction. He became the first chairman of the Royal Infirmary medical staff advisory committee, and served from 1968 to 1972 in this post, a measure of the confidence his colleagues had in him.

His special interest lay in the care of diabetic patients. He founded the diabetic service in Glasgow Royal Infirmary and took pleasure in his retirement in observing its continuing progress. In 1973 he had the honour of delivering the second MacFadzean lecture at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Hong Kong, on changing concepts of diabetes mellitus. He served as chairman of the Scottish committee of the British Diabetic Association and as a member of the council of that organization.

On retirement, he moved to Fortrose, where his time was given over to his great loves of golf and gardening. These were punctuated by occasional forays to Glasgow to attend the Town and Country Medical Club.

W G Manderson

(Volume XI, page 285)

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