Lives of the fellows

Alexander Paterson (Sir) Murphy

b.25 October 1892 d.1 October 1976
Kt(1954) MC(1918) MB ChM Syd(1916) FRACP(1938) MD Syd(1947) FRCP*(1954) Hon MD Qld(1967) Hon DSc(1958)

Alexander Murphy was born, bred and educated in Brisbane, and graduated from the University of Sydney in 1916. During the first world war he served in the AIF and in 1918 was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He also served as a consultant physician during the second world war. He returned to practice in Brisbane in 1920, first as a general practitioner and then as a consultant physician. In 1921 he married Esme Hobson, by whom he had three daughters.

Murphy was visiting physician to the Brisbane General Hospital until his appointment as honorary consulting physician, and upon establishment of the Medical School in 1937 became the first professor of medicine at the University of Queensland, an appointment which he held until 1946, continuing to serve as part-time foundation professor of medicine until 1950. A foundation fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1938, he was elected president in 1954, having served on council continuously in the intervening years; at the time of his retirement he had completed 20 years of unbroken service. His membership of the BMA/AMA extended over 60 years, and during this time he served on many committees and council, being president of the 7th session of the Australasian Medical Congress in 1950, when he gave a brilliant presidential address.

He was much sought after as a lecturer and orator, and other outstanding addresses included the Bancroft Oration in Brisbane in 1954, the Listerian Oration in Adelaide in 1955 and the Syme Oration in Sydney in 1959. His association with the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine extended back to its formative days in the 1940s, and he served on the council for many years, becoming patron of the Federation in 1967, a position which he occupied with distinction until his death. He was also a director of the Queensland Division of the National Heart Foundation. He received his knighthood in 1954, and in the same year was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London. Other honours included the fellowship of the Australian Medical Association in 1964.

His numerous services to Australian postgraduate medical education began about 1929; and in later life, as doyen of the medical profession in Queensland, he was not only greatly respected in his home State but had also achieved an honoured position in Australian medicine as a whole. He was a doctor of great learning, with a marvellous ability to teach others, and one who, by his example, set a standard of medical practice to be emulated. He had little leisure time, but when he did find time to relax there was nothing he liked better than a game of golf.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
Valérie Luniewska

* Elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature.."

[Med.J.Aust., 1977, 1, 263; Aust. Postgrad. Fed. in Med. Report, 1977; Med. Directory of Aust., 1974; RACP Newsletter, 8, No. 4, Dec. 1976]

(Volume VII, page 418)

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