Lives of the fellows

Elwyn Rhys Jones

b.30 January 1919 d.20 July 1989
BSc Wales(1939) MB BCh(1942) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1973)

Elwyn Rhys Jones was born in Cardiff, the youngest child of William Rhys Jones, a pharmacist and territorial manager for Boots the Chemists, and his wife Catherine née Price. Much younger than his siblings, he was to a large extent brought up by his eldest sister of whom he said that she had to conduct her courtship in his company. He attended Cardiff High School, as ‘Jones 16’, and studied medicine at the University of Wales. After graduation he worked in Newport as a house physician for six months prior to joining the Army for service with the 2nd West African Brigade, at first in West Africa and then in Burma, where his field dressing section was at times behind Japanese lines. After the war he returned to Cardiff, starting once more as house physician and then successively registrar and senior registrar to Leonard Howells [Munks Roll, Vol.VI,p.250] and Byron Evans (q.v.). During this time he decided to specialize in thoracic medicine and after a year at Torn O’Dee Red Cross Hospital he became chief assistant at King Edward VII Sanatorium, Midhurst, from 1955-62. He was subsequently appointed consultant physician in chest diseases to the Harlow Group of Hospitals, remaining there until his retirement in 1984.

A friend to all his colleagues, his quiet and courteous manner concealed both a determination - which became more Welsh as it became more stubborn - to see the views he considered correct implemented and an impish, pertinent sense of humour, again more suited to his Welsh origins than his dignified and portly bearing. He was a gifted story teller and his carefully rehearsed and meticulously timed ‘extempore speeches convulsed his audiences. It was very clear to everyone from whom Griff, his comedian son, had inherited his talents.

In 1949 he married Gwynneth, also a Jones, a nurse at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, and he remained devoted to and dependent on her. They had two sons and a daughter and he always took great pride in their achievements. Away from medicine, his major interest was in sailing and it is perhaps the best tribute to his personality that his friends remained friends even after a holiday spent lost in the North Sea, on his unmanageable boat, under his disorganized and often irascible captaincy. He retired to Woodbridge to spend more time in his beloved boat, but tragically became ill almost immediately and so was unable to do so. He faced the inevitable progression of his illness with clear-sighted, uncomplaining - and almost cheerful - stoicism. The manner of his resistance to his disease was an example to everyone.

D R K Medley

[Brit.med.J., 1989,299,788]

(Volume IX, page 281)

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