Lives of the fellows

Renatus Kempthorne

b.5 July 1907 d.23 March 1984
MRCS LRCP(1932) MA BM BCh Oxon(1934) MRCP(1934) FRCP(1964)

Renatus Kempthorne was born into an old-established Cornish family of farmers and professional people. His grandfather was a farmer, from whom he inherited the family farm, and his father William Granville Kempthorne was a solicitor. His mother Jane, née Goodman, was the daughter of the village blacksmith at the Lizard.

Renatus was educated at Blundell’s and University College, Oxford. He began by reading mathematics and achieved first class honours in moderations; he then changed to medicine, winning awards in anatomy, pharmacy and pathology, and graduating with second class honours in physiology. His clinical studies were undertaken at University College Hospital, London, where he served as house physician to Charles Bacon in 1933. He was appointed RMO in 1935, and became an assistant on the medical unit in 1936 - a post he held for three years. In 1939 he was appointed physician to the North Middlesex Hospital where he remained until his retirement in 1967, except for a brief period from 1946-47 when he served as medical specialist to the Duchess of Kent Military Hospital, Catterick, during his two years of military service.

He was a delightful colleague, naturally self-effacing, but a tower of strength when needed and a dedicated defender of the principles of medical etiquette. He had a dry sense of humour: when addressing an audience of some 500 doctors on coronary thrombosis he first showed a slide relating the increase in deaths from heart disease to the consumption of cholesterol containing foods, immediately followed by another slide relating the rise in mortality to the increased possession of television sets throughout the country.

His interests outside medicine included the visual arts and history, both of which he exploited to the full during his holidays. One holiday was spent rambling about Spain, if not exactly on a donkey at least by such haphazard means of transport as were available to him when on the beaten track.

Renatus married Kathleen Margaret, daughter of Hugh Thomas Whitworth, a shipbroker. His wife died in 1978, but he was survived by their son, also Renatus, a Clerk in Holy Orders presently living in New Zealand.

D Francis

[Brit.med.J., 1984,289,328,632]

(Volume VIII, page 255)

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