Lives of the fellows

William Murray Porteous

b.29 September 1909 d.24 November 1996
MB ChB Otago(1934) MRCP(1938) MD(1945) FRACP(1967) FRCP(1975)

Murray Porteous was a general physician in New Zealand whose medical career spanned the development of Waikato Hospital from the provision of general medical services to the introduction of a full range of specialist facilities. He was educated at Wellington College and Otago University, graduating in 1934. Following two years as a house surgeon at Waikato Hospital, he spent a further two years training in London and successfully obtained his MRCP in 1938.

On his return to New Zealand in 1939 he became the first full time physician at Waikato Hospital. From 1940 he spent four years as a medical specialist with the 2nd NZ General Hospital in the Middle East and Italy. Immediately prior to his departure he married Mary Macky, a trained nurse at Waikato Hospital and daughter of a prominent Waikato farming family. They had three sons.

During his overseas service he shared a tent with lieutenant colonel J E Caughey with whom he co-authored an article in the Medical Journal of Australia (1946,1,5-10) on an epidemic of poliomyelitis among troops in the Middle East. His MD, for which he gained a distinction, was based on these studies.

On returning to New Zealand he spent six years as a full time physician and twenty four years as a visiting physician at Waikato Hospital until his retirement in 1974. He then worked as a physician in geriatric medicine at the new Waitakere Hospital, Auckland, before finally retiring to Waikanae where he lived until his death. He played an active role in the development of postgraduate medical education, in senior medical staff matters, the local branch of the BMA, and in attempts at a political level to establish a school of medicine at Hamilton. He was a man who was not comfortable with the commercial aspects of private practice and in many respects the eleven years at Waitakere Hospital working with devoted staff were the happiest of his professional life.

Murray Porteous was a quiet and unassuming man whose apparently stern manner at times during his early years belied his underlying modesty, shyness and dry wit. Throughout his life he had a particular love of the outdoors and painting. As a medical student he supported himself by working as an alpine guide on Mount Ruapehu where he carried corrugated iron on his back to help build the first ski hut.

R P G Rothwell

[Brit.med.J., 1997.314.1488]

(Volume X, page 392)

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