Lives of the fellows

James Overton

b.24 February 1911 d.19 September 1996
BSc Leeds(1933) MB ChB(1938) DObst RCOG(1941) MRCP(1944) MD(1945) FRCP(1969)

James Overton was the first specialist dermatologist to be appointed in Leicester and the subsequent development of the service in the area owes much to his early work. He was an active member of the British Association of Dermatologists and a fellow of St John s Hospital Dermatological Society. He was born in Leeds, where his father was a confectioner, and educated at Leeds Boys Modern School and at Leeds University. His early student years were disrupted by ill-health. Following scarlet fever he developed quinsy and subsequently a post-tonsillectomy lung abscess requiring lobectomy.

After house appointments at St James’s and Leeds Royal Infirmary he became a resident medical officer at the Leicester General Hospital, having been declared unfit for war service. He was a clinical tutor at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and registrar at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, before his appointment as consultant dermatologist in Leicester in 1947. Following the inception of the National Health Service, he also became consulting dermatologist to the hospital of St Cross, Rugby, and thus held contracts with two regional boards - Sheffield and West Midlands.

Although he chose dermatology as a specialty he remained an astute and observant physician. His extensive experience in general medicine enhanced his ability to relate dermatological symptoms and signs to a variety of general medical conditions that might underlie or be associated with skin disease. Not only was he a good clinician but his unfailing good humour and warm outgoing personality endeared him to patients and colleagues alike.

James married Florence Marjorie (née Elkins) in 1943. Marjorie was a biochemistry graduate of University College Leicester (as it was then) and subsequently worked at the Leicester General Hospital. They had two children, a son and a daughter.

After his retirement James kept up his interest in the arts - especially music and the theatre. He and Marjorie delighted in the flora (and fauna) of Britain, Cyprus and Majorca and, when they were not travelling, cultivated their magnificent garden. James was an expert photographer and many of his photographs were published in botanical and artistic journals.

J R Hearnshaw

[Brit.med.J., 1996,313,1257]

(Volume X, page 372)

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