Lives of the fellows

Sydney Fancourt McDonald

b.18 November 1885 d.8 August 1947
MB BS Melb(1910) MD Melb(1912) MRCP(1919) FRACP(1938) FRCP(1940)

Sydney McDonald was born at Rocklea, Queensland, the son of George Thomas McDonald, a Scottish surveyor, and Amelia, daughter of Sir William Mitchell, of Victoria. He was educated at the Brisbane Grammar School and Trinity College, Melbourne University. After graduation he was in turn resident medical officer at the Alfred Hospital, the Children’s Hospital and the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Melbourne. He then came to England, and was engaged in post-graduate study at Queen Charlotte Hospital at the outbreak of war in August 1914. As to join the A.I.F. would have necessitated returning to Australia he enlisted in the R.A.M.C., was with the 4th General Hospital during the retreat from Mons, and was mentioned in dispatches in November 1916. After demobilisation he remained in England until 1920 when he returned to Brisbane, where he commenced practice as a physician with a special interest in diseases of children, and was appointed physician to out-patients at the Hospital for Sick Children where he was subsequently a senior physician. He was consultant to the R.A.A.F. Medical Service from 1941, and at the time of his death held the rank of group captain. He was a member of council of the Queensland branch of the B.M.A, from 1923 to 1944, president in 1930, and first chairman of the post-graduate committee.

In his youth his sporting interests were tennis and rifle shooting, and he was a keen photographer, having an excellent collection of slides depicting a great variety of clinical conditions. He was an avid reader and possessed an extensive library of non-medical books from which he frequently quoted. A close friend has recollected his shyness and awkwardness in conversation, which never left him, except at odd moments when he relaxed at afternoon tea at the Hospital or of an evening in his own home; his ready enthusiasm for any conversation about books, of which he seemed to have read more than anyone he ever knew; his odd stiff little bow on greeting you and at the end of conversation. He was a man of great enthusiasms, a generous host, and thoughtful and sympathetic by nature. He died of hypertensive cardio-renal disease.

He was twice married, first in 1919 in England to Marjorie Peck, of Melbourne; she died in 1939 leaving no issue. His second wife was Miss Jean Darvall, of Brisbane, whom he married in 1942 and who survived him.

Richard R Trail

[Med. J. Aust., 1947, 2, 502-04 (p).]

(Volume V, page 252)

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