Lives of the fellows

David Jackson Parry

b.11 July 1929 d.30 December 1981
BSc Lond(1950) MRCS LRCP(1953) MB BS(1953) MRCP(1960) FRCP(1975)

David Parry was the elder son of Edward Parry, a clerk to the Bank of England, and Rita, daughter of Frank Jackson, an accountant. He was born and brought up in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a neighbourhood with which his family remains closely identified. His link with this part of London was later strengthened when he married Dinah, daughter of John Norman Jones, master builder, whose firm had constructed many of the houses in the locality.

He attended University College School, where he became headboy, before entering St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. He was awarded several prizes, intercalated for BSc, and graduated MB BS with honours in pathology, in 1953. He was house physician on the medical unit under the direction of George Pickering, and later held posts at Edgware General Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital, before becoming senior medical registrar at St Mary’s Hospital and the West Middlesex Hospital. He held a short service commission in the medical branch of the Royal Air Force, working mainly at the Institute of Aviation Medicine in Farnborough; he spent a year on a fellowship in gastroenterology, working in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1967 he was appointed consultant in general medicine with special interest in gastroenterology at Good Hope General Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, a newly created district general hospital for the North Birmingham District, where he worked for 14 years until his sudden and unexpected death at the age of 52. The appointment was a new one to a district with an expanding and varied population in which the pattern of medical practice was rapidly changing.

His talents and personality were well suited to the job. He combined an informal, cheerful and relaxed manner, with a strong commitment, not only to individual patients but to wider aspects of the organization and development of medical services. He acted as a catalyst and facilitator in such tasks as establishing a representative committee structure in the district, and in providing an occupational health service. Because of his diplomatic skills, sense of fairness and practical idealism he was persuaded to hold office in all the important local committees.

While serving on the Standing Committee of Members of the College he became increasingly convinced that, for many districts, the separation of geriatric medicine from the main stream of general medicine, was illogical and could have detrimental consequences. It was typical that he should act on his convictions, rather than propose them as policies for future practice by others. For several years he voluntarily added to his busy life as general physician and gastroenterologist, the clinical care and administrative responsibility for a large population of old people in North Birmingham.

David Parry possessed a gift for making friends and maintaining old friendships, particularly those established during his student days and in his early professional life. In his work he had an unusual ability for unobtrusively influencing and inspiring people; rigid posturing and circumscribed patterns of behaviour usually crumbled under his influence. He was an expert and energetic gardener; even when holding busy junior posts in London he made time to tend an allotment. Listening to music provided another enjoyment; he was a devotee of Benjamin Britten, and a few days spent at the Aldeburgh Festival each year provided particular pleasure for him and his wife.

He was known locally for his clinical ability and humanity; for his cheerful, friendly and modest manner, which overlay a sense of dedication and seriousness towards his professional life; and for the pioneering and selfless decision he made to embrace geriatrics, while retaining responsibilities in the full range of general medicine, which he had accepted at the time of his appointment.

DD Gibbs

[Brit.med.J., 1982, 284, 231, 278]

(Volume VII, page 449)

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