Lives of the fellows

John Joseph Kempton

b.31 December 1908 d.12 July 1961
MBE(1943) MB ChB Bristol(1932) MD Bristol(1946) DCH Eng(1947) MRCP(1946) FRCP(1958)

John, the son of John Henry Kempton, a schoolmaster, and Anne Mansell Simcox, the daughter of a local government officer, was born at Rhyl, North Wales, where he attended Epworth School before entering Bristol University. From house posts at the Bristol Royal Infirmary he went as out-patient medical registrar to Great Ormond Street Hospital, and in 1947 was elected assistant physician to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. In the following year he became its consultant paediatrician and in 1950 was appointed to a similar post at the Red Cross Memorial Hospital, Taplow. During World War II he served as a medical specialist with the R.A.M.C, at home and in the Middle East.

This service had hindered his wish, while in general practice up to 1935, to develop his interest in paediatrics, for which he had a definite flair, but immediately after demobilisation he applied himself so assiduously to its study that the department he created at the Royal Berkshire Hospital became a model at home and abroad for both administration and teaching. The children’s ward was renamed ‘Kempton’ by the unanimous wish of his colleagues, after his death by drowning while sailing in his yacht ‘Vigo’ in the great Bay of Biscay gale of July 12th, 1961.

Kempton had been a good sprinter and Rugby player in his student days and was still a vigorous squash racquet player in his forties. His other hobbies were music and gardening, but his greatest love was the sea. His tall, commanding figure added point to his original and cogent lectures on all aspects of his specialty, in which he had made an especial study of neonatal heart disease.

In 1937 he married Dorinda Frances Grindley, by whom he had two daughters.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1961, 2, 388-9, 527, 654; Lancet, 1961, 2, 273.]

(Volume V, page 224)

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