Lives of the fellows

Thomas Glentworth Reah

b.20 May 1905 d.11 February 1977
MRCS LRCP(1929) MA MB BChir Cantab(1931) MD(1934) MRCP(1932) FRCP(1969)

Thomas Reah was born in Stockton-on-Tees. His father, James Carter Reah, was a grocer; his mother was Elizabeth Harriet Cooper prior to her marriage.

Reah was educated at Middlesbrough High School and then went to Downing College, Cambridge, and later embarked on his clinical studies at the London Hospital. He was awarded the Anderson prize for medicine in 1927 and the Treves prize for clinical surgery and the prize for surgery in 1929. He qualified, passing the Conjoint in 1929, before taking his degree in 1931.

From 1930 to 1932 he held several junior posts at the London Hospital, including house physician to the medical unit, receiving room officer, and later assistant in the department of pathology. Between 1932 and 1934 he was resident medical officer at Maida Vale Hospital and then at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham. In 1935 he moved to general practice in Harrogate, and within a very short time was appointed to the consulting staff at the Harrogate General Hospital, Royal Bath Hospital and Ripon Hospital.

In Harrogate he took a special interest in neurology within his general medical practice and, in addition, developed an increasing interest in rheumatology. From 1944 to 1946 he served in the RAMC, spending a greater part of the time abroad, and in 1945 he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in charge of the medical division of a general hospital in West Africa. In 1946 he returned to Harrogate where he continued to work as a consultant physician.

At the London Hospital he had been fortunate in having outstanding teachers and throughout his career he continued to apply their high standards uncompromisingly. His clinical judgement was extremely sound and he relied very much on this rather than on laboratory and radiological investigations. If one of his residents asked for what he considered to be unnecessary investigations he was careful to make sure that the resident knew why he had requested them. He kept his own personal detailed records of the diagnosis and duration of inpatient stay of all his patients admitted to hospital, and could always be relied upon to produce accurate statistics when necessary.

Reah was a long standing member of the British Medical Association, the Heberden Society and the Royal Society of Medicine, in which he served as president of the section of physical medicine in 1962. He was chairman of the Harrogate Division of the British Medical Association when they held their Annual Meeting in Harrogate in 1970, and he discharged his duties with a tact and organizing ability which helped to make it a most successful meeting. He was president of the local branch of the British Diabetic Association for many years.

Thomas Reah was a modest, quietly devout man who was a sidesman at his church. He was a man of great integrity in all aspects of his life. He was a member of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and enjoyed nothing better than a day at Headingley. He was also an enthusiastic gardener.

It was a great loss to him when his wife Ruth, who trained as a nurse at the London and Middlesex Hospitals, died in 1971 after a long battle with crippling rheumatoid arthritis, and throughout their marriage he was a most devoted husband. His own last years were marred by a progressive disabling illness, whose inexorable advance he recognized and bore with stoicism and rare courage. He had two sons, both of whom have studied Law.

WS Suffern

[Brit.med.J., 1977, 1, 654]

(Volume VII, page 487)

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