Lives of the fellows

Kenneth Nelson Vesey Palmer

b.16 March 1920 d.11 December 1982
MB BChir Cantab(1944) MRCP(1945) MA MD Cantab(1952) FRCP(1966) MRCPE(1967) FRCPE(1970)

Ken Palmer was a general physician with a special interest in diseases of the chest. He was born at Dartmouth and educated at Kingswood School, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and Middlesex Hospital, London. He served as a medical specialist in the RAF 1948 -1950. He maintained his brilliant undergraduate promise with a similar postgraduate career as house physician and senior medical registrar at the Middlesex Hospital, house physician at Brompton Hospital and reader in medicine in the University of Aberdeen. He achieved academic distinction because he was unrivalled as a clinical teacher and because he was a thoughtful research worker. His Cambridge MD thesis on post-operative pulmonary complications led to a wide and productive field of investigation on aerosols to reduce sputum viscosity, expectorants, mucolytics, the hazards of smoking, hypoxaemia, exercise-induced asthma, bronchodilators, rheology, and lung scanning. He made anaesthesia safer.

Ken Palmer developed the pulmonary function laboratory at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and its continuing academic productivity will be an honourable epitaph.

He was rightly proud of his membership of the Association of Physicians, Thoracic Society, European Society of Respiratory Physiology, and the Scottish Society of Physicians. These professional achievements do not highlight his zestful personality, his unquenchable curiosity beyond medicine, his love of Brahms, his pursuit of fishing, and, above all, his affectionate family life. He was survived by his wife, Rosemary, who was an accomplished artist, two daughters, and a doctor son, who had already achieved membership of the Royal College of Physicians.

‘The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun they travelled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.’
(Stephen Spender)

D Geraint James

[Brit.med.J., 1983, 286, 1070]

(Volume VII, page 441)

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