Lives of the fellows

David Leighton Rees

b.1 July 1921 d.1 November 1992
MRCS LRCP(1944) MB BS Lond(1944) MD(1949) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1973)

David Leighton Rees was born in Swansea, Glamorgan, where his father was a pharmacist. He was educated at Clifton School and St Thomas' Hospital, London University. After qualification he had house jobs in specialist departments at St Thomas’ and as house physician at the Swansea General Hospital. He joined the RAMC in 1944, serving in India and the Middle East, and on demobilization returned to St Thomas' Hospital as clinical assistant in the department of venereology. He obtained his membership of the College and his London MD in 1949, and in 1950 became dermatology registrar.

The writer’s first recollection of him was in the registrar’s room at St Thomas’, when everyone was anxious about getting a consultant job except for Di Rees - as he then was - who was senior registrar to Geoffrey Dowling [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.163], the best trainer of consultant dermatologists in the country. Di Rees was anxious to get appointed to the staff of Swansea General Hospital where his cousin, Esmond Rees [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.489], was senior physician and the only consultant job at Swansea which was likely to become vacant in the near future was that of Rhys Lewis, consultant dermatologist, known to all as ‘Di Skins’. It was for this appointment that Di Rees was lined up. He had worked at Swansea, was already known there, and when the West of England Dermatology Society met at Swansea it was Di Rees who organized the meeting.

When ‘Di Skins’ eventually retired, Di Rees was appointed in his place. It was about this time that he became Leighton Rees. He took over Rhys Lewis’s work load but this was so heavy that it was impossible to carry it out efficiently without a second consultant dermatologist - and the writer was appointed in 1958.

Leighton Rees’ chief relaxation was to play golf and it was through this interest that he met his wife Joan, daughter of George Franck, an engineer. The marriage was a happy one but they had no children.

Rees’ later years were plagued by illness; he developed widespread mucous membrane trouble in his mouth, so smoking was ruled out. Treatment by radiotherapy was very unpleasant. He also developed attacks of disturbance of consciousness and was forbidden to drive a car, which had been a great pleasure to him during his St Thomas’ days in London. Eventually they moved to Essex to be nearer to Joan’s relatives. When the writer last saw him, just before he moved to Essex in 1989, he was looking well. The mouth lesions were healed and the epileptiform attacks had left him - so he was again able to drive. It was therefore very unexpected to learn of his sudden death following a trans-urethral prostatectomy.

R.G.Howell

(Volume IX, page 442)

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