Lives of the fellows

Ernest Victor Pieris

b.16 January 1926 d.23 December 1991
MB BS Ceylon(1950) MRCPE(1957) MD(1958) MRCP(1958) FRCPE(1972) FRCP(1975) FCCP Sri Lanks(1979)

Ernest Victor Pieris was born in the picturesque town of Badulla in the hills of Ceylon, the son of Arnold Victor Pieris, a doctor. He received his collegiate education at the Royal College, Colombo, and then entered the University of Ceylon to study medicine, where he graduated with first class honours and distinctions in medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology. Following junior resident appointments, including a registrarship in the professorial medical unit, General Hospital, Colombo, he proceeded to the UK and obtained his membership of the Edinburgh and London Colleges.

On his return to Ceylon, he obtained his MD Ceylon and was appointed consultant physician to Colombo North General Hospital. He was appointed consultant physician to the General Hospital, Colombo, in 1960, a post he held with distinction up to his retirement.

‘Ernie’, as he was affectionately known, was a man of extraordinary brilliance with outstanding clinical ability. A profound knowledge of the basic principles of the practice of medicine, coupled with a lively interest in the most recent advances, made him a clinician of the finest calibre and a teacher par excellence. Many generations of medical students and postgraduate doctors passed through his capable hands and are now ranked among the medical élite of Sri Lanka.

He set himself the highest standards of integrity in maintaining the valuable traditions of the profession and combined the skills of medicine with an inexhaustible abundance of compassion. He treated all his patients with great kindness and concern, making no distinction between rich or poor, and was much loved by them. He also wrote many scientific papers for the professional journals.

Ernie Pieris was a founder member of the College of Physicians of Ceylon and in recognition of his services to medicine he was awarded the coveted FCCP in 1979. He was elected to the Fellowship of the Edinburgh College in 1972, followed three years later by election to the London College. He retired prematurely from the National Health Service in 1972 but was much sought after by his patients and remained in active practice right up to the end.

As a young man, Ernie Pieris was a versatile sportsman and he represented his alma mater at rugby football in 1941,'42 and ’43. He later captained the combined University rugby team of Ceylon. He was also a gifted cricketer who represented the Royal College, Colombo, as wicket-keeper batsman in 1943.

In 1952 he married Philine Theophila née Peiris, a consultant chest paediatrician and daughter of Daniel Richard Peiris, also a doctor. They had four daughters and six grandchildren. Ernie Pieris was a devout Christian and a marvellous family man, who lived by the principles of the religion he believed in. He was mild mannered and soft spoken, with a wonderful sense of humour - endearing qualities which made him, among other things, an enchanting after-dinner speaker. To those of us who had the singular good fortune to learn the basics of our training at his feet, he was a man of phenomenal attributes whose influence on our lives was truly priceless.

B J C Perera

[Ceylon med.J., l992,37,59; Proc.roy.Coll.Physns.Edin., voL23,No 1(Jan 1993)]

(Volume IX, page 415)

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