Lives of the fellows

Norman Arthur Lewtas

b.10 November 1917 d.12 September 1987
MB ChB Manch(1941) MRCP(1949) DMRD(1951) FFR(1958) FRCP(1970) FRCR(1975)

Norman Arthur Lewtas, a thoroughbred Mancunian, died peacefully after a short illness bravely borne, at his home in the Derbyshire Dales. It is ironic that he died from a pathology - cerebral tumour - to the investigation of which he had devoted much of his professional life.

Norman was born in Manchester, schooled at Manchester Grammar School and graduated from the University of that city. It was at Manchester that he served his residential appointments before entering the RAMC for the latter years of the war, during which he served in Europe, India and the Sudan, and was mentioned in despatches. After the war he returned to Manchester and its environs for further clinical appointments, gained his membership of the College, and in 1950 began his radiological training. He became fascinated by the discipline, technique and interpretative skills required in neuroradiology, which already had a very strong tradition in Manchester under the leadership of E Wing Twining and Sir Geoffrey Jefferson [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.213].

In 1955 Norman was appointed as the first consultant neuroradiologist to the United Sheffield Hospitals and for the next 28 years he rendered distinguished service to those hospitals. He was a superb neuroradiologist with great manual dexterity and interpretative ability, coupled with excellent clinico-radiological judgement. Norman was a tremendously hard worker, for nearly 30 years he carried the major responsibility for the huge neuroradiological workload generated by over 2,000,000 people in the North Trent region. He was a keen collaborator in many clinical imaging projects developed with his colleagues, and he contributed several original articles and book chapters to the neuroradiological literature. He was always very tidy, disciplined and practical in his philosophy, taking the minimum of films necessary to establish and confirm the diagnosis; providing the community with a fine neuroradiological service of high efficiency at very low cost. He was one of the first to be allocated an EMI headscanner in 1974, and he developed an excellent CT service, with one of the highest daily caseloads in the country.

Norman was a patient and sympathetic teacher and an excellent lecturer, both of neuroradiology and general radiology, and many radiologists in this country and abroad learned their skills from him and his colleagues at Sheffield. Although primarily a neuroradiologist, he also undertook general radiological work, and was a much admired administrative head of the department of radiology at the Sheffield Royal Infirmary from 1959 until its closure, when it was absorbed by the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in 1980. Under his relaxed but dynamic leadership, the Sheffield department of neuroradiology and the department of radiology of the Sheffield Royal Infirmary thrived, with a devoted staff - medical, technical and clerical - totally loyal and devoted to their leader and adviser.

Handsome, charming, tall and slender, Norman was always elegantly dressed. He was greatly respected throughout the hospitals where he worked for his sincerity, sound advice, diligent hard work and leadership. He was a staunch supporter of the British Institute of Radiology, being a member of Council, and of the Royal College of Radiologists. He had the distinction of being the vice-president of the latter from 1978-79, and also of its predecessor the Faculty of Radiologists from 1972-74.

By nature he was a fast mover, whether at angiography, reporting, walking, driving, or racing his favourite souped-up Escort in the competitive hill climbing rallies which he enjoyed so much. He was a natural and enthusiastic athlete; enjoying tennis, squash, golf and, in later years, microlight flying. He gained his university colours in golf, with a low handicap, and after retirement he resumed the game with renewed enthusiasm and much pleasure. ‘It’s magic’, he wrote to the writer. As well as excelling in physical sports, Norman was fond of music and was an avid reader, with a particular penchant for philosophical and biographical essays, and enthused over his favourite authors. Schumacher’s Small is beautiful became one of his favourite sources of reference.

Norman Lewtas was a gentleman - a truly courteous, gentle man, who was totally dedicated to his family, his patients and his colleagues.

In 1942 he married Dorothy, the daughter of Wilson Harold Hey, a surgeon, and together with their son and daughter they established a delightful home; latterly in Curbar in the Derbyshire Dales, near Sheffield, where they maintained a beautiful garden in which they laboured with skill and devotion. They also enjoyed and cherished their walks through the neighbouring moors and dales. Dorothy, his two children and his centenarian mother all survived him.

RG Grainger

[Brit.med.J., 1987,295,1147; Brit.J.Radiol.Bull., , 1987,B77; Clinical Radiol., 1988,39,236]

(Volume VIII, page 280)

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