Lives of the fellows

Sol Lopis

b.4 November 1916 d.1 December 1985
MB BCh Wits(1940) MD(1944) MRCPE(1948) MRCP(1948) FRCPE(1963) FRCP(1970)

Sol Lopis was a man whom everybody respected and many loved. A dedicated physician who treated his patients with old-world courtesy, he showed that happy frame of mind and good humour which made him a loving husband and father in his home.

Sol was born in Johannesburg, of a good middle-class family, his father Isaac being an ornithologist whose love of birds determined his starting a pet shop business which progressed rapidly, while his mother Anne supplied the moral support and home atmosphere which added to his happy upbringing. He was educated at Spes Bona Primary School, Parktown Boys High School and the University of Witwatersrand, from where he graduated in 1940. This was followed by postgraduate work at the Johannesburg Hospital,and he later presented a thesis on ‘A survey of gall bladder disease in European and Bantu races’ which gained him an MD in 1944. A spell in the Army as a captain in the South African Medical Corps was recognized by a ‘Certificate for good services’ in 1945. In 1947 he received further recognition of his postgraduate work when he was awarded the Nuffield Scholarship, which enabled him to study in Britain until 1949.

Before leaving for Britain, he married Hodda Todes who later presented him with a daughter, and two sons who are following in their father’s footsteps. In London he studied under several prominent clinicians including Sir Max Rosenheim [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.394], later Lord Rosenheim, Sir Harold Himsworth, R D Lawrence [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.275] and Wilfred Oakley. He also obtained his membership of the Edinburgh and London Colleges.

On his return to South Africa he rejoined the visiting staff of Johannesburg Hospital, ultimately becoming senior physician and later honorary visiting physician, and lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand. He was also examiner in medicine for the University, and for the College of Medicine of South Africa. His special interest in endocrinology and diabetes was marked by his attachment to the diabetic and thyroid clinics, and he was the founder and physician in charge of the endocrine metabolic unit. He published a number of scientific papers both in his own name and in collaboration with others. His work was recognized by election to the fellowship of the Edinburgh and London Colleges. He was a founder member of the South African College of Physicians and Surgeons (now the College of Medicine) and also of the South African Diabetes Association.

His dedication to his work ultimately led to his health becoming affected. In spite of this he continued hospital and consultant practice, much to the benefit of both patients and students. His patients were his friends, for he lavished both care and kindness on them, while his students and all members of staff associated with him appreciated greatly his approach to patients and his knowledge, both of general medicine and of endocrinology.

There was never very much time for relaxation or sporting activities, but he never neglected his home and family, and his wife and children fully reciprocated the affection he showered on them. It was in fact his love for his family which determined the long trip to Australia, along with his wife, to see his sons and grandchildren before he died. Although he survived the air trip, he collapsed and died suddenly just one week after his arrival in Australia. But he had accomplished what he set out to do; which was typical of Sol Lopis.

T Schneider

(Volume VIII, page 291)

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