Lives of the fellows

Julian Alastair Kirk

b.22 April 1937 d.30 November 1996
MB ChB NZ(1960) MRACP(1965) MRCP(1966) FRACP(1973) FRCP(1983)

Julian Alastair Kirk was a former director of physical medicine at Christchurch Hospital, New Zealand. He was born in Dunedin, the son of Raymond Kirk, a doctor, and his wife, Nancie. He was educated at Medbury School, Christ’s College and the Otago University Medical School. He was a keen sportsman and at the age of eighteen was the South Island downhill skiing champion and later, in 1958, became the captain of the New Zealand Universities ski team against the Australian Universities. He graduated in 1960 and worked as a house officer and medical registrar in Dunedin, gaining membership of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1965.

He then went to London where he was clinical assistant to E G L Bywaters of Hammersmith Hospital. In 1966 he became a registrar in rheumatic diseases at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath. In the same year he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London. In 1968 he shifted to Rochester, New York, to become a clinical fellow in rheumatology for a year. As part of his early work he published in 1967 a signal paper on The hypermobility syndrome with B M Ansell and E G L Bywaters [Ann Rheum Dis 1967 26(5) 419-425]. He returned to New Zealand in 1969 to take up a position as director of physical medicine at Christchurch Hospital and to pursue his career as a rheumatologist.

His presentations at clinical meetings were regarded as unique, providing a blend of art and science with wry humour. He was a great supporter of the School of Medicine from its inception at Christchurch, and his contribution to the teaching of clinical rheumatology to medical students was very important.

He was a great contributor to voluntary societies associated with his area of expertise, acting as advisor to the Canterbury Arthritis Society, the New Zealand Arthritis Foundation, the Rehabilitation League and for 22 years as a trustee of the Laura Fergusson Trust.

He married Susan Nevill in 1964. They had a son and daughter. He had a great love of the outdoors and in his spare time was a keen fisherman and member of a duck shooting club.

Despite his wide contributions and his involvement in various activities, he had a quiet and self effacing manner. He was a person who always had time to spend with people in an unhurried way and yet he achieved a remarkable productivity. He died after a fifteen year battle with coronary artery disease.

P W Moller

(Volume X, page 282)

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