Lives of the fellows

Arthur William (Sir) Morrow

b.12 July 1903 d.22 August 1977
Kt(1959) DSO(1942) MB BS Sydney(1927) MRCP(1933) FRACP(1938) FRCP(1949) Hon FACP(1967)

Bill Morrow was born in Maitland, New South Wales, had a brilliant scholastic career at Newington College, Sydney, and graduated in medicine from the University of Sydney in 1927 with first class honours.

Bill immediately entered the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as a junior resident, and he was actively associated with that great hospital for the rest of his life. He became deputy medical superintendent in 1932, honorary assistant physician in 1934, honorary physician in 1951 and honorary consultant physician in 1963.

Mastery of clinical judgement through experience at the bedside, and the teaching of the science and art of the subject, were the dominating forces in his highly successful professional career. His wide reading and regular attendance at a vast number of postgraduate teaching sessions at many hospitals, both at home and overseas, enabled him to speak with authority on all current subjects, to the great advantage of his patients, colleagues and students alike.

Bill was a gracious and courteous gentleman, a very popular consultant, an outstanding teacher and dedicated to the welfare of his chosen profession. He exerted a profound influence for the best in the practice of medicine in Australia through his quiet personal contact with all members of the profession, junior as well as senior; whether in wards, in committee or on the golf course.

It is not surprising that Bill played an important role in the life of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians - foundation fellow in 1938, censor (1952-1966) and censor-in-chief (1962-1966). He was elected to the council in 1957 and became president for the term 1966 -1968. In recognition of his services the AW Morrow Room was dedicated to his memory in the College.

Apart from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Bill held consultant physician posts at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, and many other suburban hospitals in Sydney. He was lecturer in therapeutics at the University of Sydney from 1935 to 1963, and lecturer and examiner in clinical medicine from 1946 to 1963.

He was also deeply involved in many professional organizations which included the Australian Medical Association, being a councillor and president (1958-1959) of the New South Wales branch, the postgraduate committee in medicine of the University of Sydney and a number of private foundations.

In 1950 he was appointed to the Commonwealth Formulary committee, which later became the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory committee, and he served as its chairman until 1973. He was also chairman of the Commonwealth Drug Evaluation committee.

Early in his career at Prince Alfred, Bill showed interest in gastric disorders and he eventually established a gastroenterology unit in 1950, which was named the AW Morrow Institute in 1961. Owing to his insistence on the highest standards of patient care and research, together with an aptitude for selecting bright young physicians, the Institute now enjoys a worldwide reputation of high standing.

Bill had a very distinguished record of war service. He enlisted at the outbreak of war in 1939 and was appointed officer commanding the medical division of the 2/5 Australian General Hospital. This hospital was sent to Greece in 1941 but was soon recalled. As a lieutenant colonel, Morrow took command in the retreat to Africa, the commanding officer having been killed at Piraeus. For his work during this action Bill was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Later the unit returned to Australia and he was promoted to colonel. During the remainder of his Army career he held posts of commanding officer of the 119 and 121 Australian General Hospitals, and in 1943 became assistant director-general Medical Service Land HQ, and the next year consultant physician Advanced Land HQ. With Hamilton Fairley, Bill had the task of controlling malaria, typhus and other diseases in the Australian Army in New Guinea and the tropics and this was successfully achieved.

In 1937 Bill married Jane Brown and thus began a most happy and successful family and social life. They had three wonderful daughters, but Jane’s death in 1971 was a bitter blow to them all. However, some years later he was to find another fine companion in Margaret Chauvel, whom he married in 1974.

In spite of his very busy and demanding professional life, he never omitted his regular visit to the golf course, where he found immense pleasure not only in the game but also in the company of a vast number of friends.

And so Bill achieved his many ambitions in life, at the same time making an outstanding contribution to medicine in Australia.

HM Rennie

(Volume VII, page 413)

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