Lives of the fellows

Alexander Mills Kennedy

b.10 March 1885 d.24 September 1960
MB ChB Glasg(1908) MD Glasg(1912) MRCP(1927) FRCP(1933)

Alexander Kennedy was born at Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, the second son of Alexander Kennedy, O.B.E., J.P., F.S.A., of Bothwell, an oil refiner and chemical manufacturer, and Catherine Mary, daughter of William Mills, a contractor, of Stirling. He went to Allan Glen’s School and then to the University of Glasgow. He held house appointments at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where he was in turn resident physician, assistant medical electrician (in charge of the electrocardiograph department), senior assistant pathologist, assistant physician, senior assistant to the Muirhead professor of medicine, and senior assistant to the professor of pathology, before his election as director of research to the Royal Maternity and Women’s Hospital. He joined the British Red Cross in 1914, and in 1915 the R.A.M.C, as a pathologist, working with Worster-Drought, with whom he wrote a monograph on cerebrospinal fever (1919).

Returning to Glasgow after the war, Kennedy organised postgraduate teaching, and in 1921 was appointed as first professor of medicine and director of the medical professorial unit at the Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff, a development recommended by a Royal Commission and warmly welcomed by the people of Wales. His first years in Cardiff were very unhappy, especially so in 1928 when the clinical side of the School had to close for a year while a new constitution was drawn up. From the time of his election he had set to work to develop a scientific department, but always devoted the greater part of his time to teaching, in which the main emphasis was always clinical, and soon ranged widely beyond his primary interest in cardiology. A remarkably successful therapist with an uncanny skill in selecting worth-while new remedies, he was as much loved and admired by his patients as by his students, whose gift of a gold half-hunter replaced the familiar gun-metal watch on a piece of string.

Kennedy was a man of wide culture, interested in fine editions and general literature, and with a deep knowledge of Scottish history and antiquarianism. In his later years painting in water colours replaced his hobby of music, and he made a choice collection of etchings and water colours by Haden, Zorn, Cameron and Flint. He did not marry.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1960, 2, 316, 1204 (p); Lancet, 1960, 2, 820-21; Times, 29 Sept.1960.]

(Volume V, page 228)

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