b.21 January 1925 d.10 July 1994
KCMG(1985) CB(1975) TD(1958) BSc St And(1944) MB ChB(1947) DPH(1952) MD(1961) MRCP Edin(1965) MRCP(1966) FRCP Edin(1970) FRCP(1971) FFCM(1974) Hon DSc St And(1979) FRCP Glasg(1980) Hon LLD Dundee(1985) FFPHM(1990)
John Reid wrote his own obituary for the British Medical Journal. In it he emphasized that his character was that of a Fifer, an expression perhaps understandable only to fellow Scots. The significance of that description is that he made his mind up on all issues carefully and, having formed an opinion, defended it stoutly.
As an undergraduate at St Andrews University he gave evidence of a capacity for leadership and administration by holding many student offices, including that of president of the Student Representative Council and president of the British Medical Students Association (perhaps a precursor to his later presidency of the BMA). His involvement with the BMA occurred during that critical period just before the appearance of the National Health Service Bill. This marked a commitment to the NHS which lasted all his life.
As an undergraduate he was also prominent in the University Training Corps and became its regimental sergeant major. This interest in military matters was also followed through. After National Service he joined the Territorial Army and rose to command a field ambulance and, in another capacity, later became an honourary consultant in community medicine to the Army.
After house jobs and National Service he completed his MD thesis on sociomedical aspects of diabetes. Entering the specialty of public health, he held posts at various levels, including a short spell in university teaching, before becoming county medical officer, first in Northants and then in Buckinghamshire. From the latter post he was drawn into the Department of Health as deputy to Sir George Godber, whom he greatly admired and from whom he learnt much. During this time, he became more and more involved with WHO and served on its executive board for 11 years, including a spell as chairman, from 1978 to 1979. From London he returned to Scotland as chief medical officer and revelled in the opportunity to run a service where he felt that resources and management issues were on a realistic scale.
He retired in 1985 but continued as consulting adviser on international health to the DHSS. Among other interests in retirement, he was a member of the board of management of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and chairman of that body from 1989 until his death.
John Reid was blessed and happy in his home and family. His first wife, Marjorie, had been a fellow student and he continued and extended the many friendships of undergraduate days. Marjorie and John encouraged each other in their different spheres of work. She was a general practitioner in Buckinghamshire and was also the driving force behind the development of a new hospice. They had four daughters and one son, forming a happy and extremely supportive family. After Marjories death in 1990 he married a former colleague, Dulcie Gooding, but their time together was to be short and somewhat darkened by his declining health. He successfully underwent major cardiac surgery for coronary heart disease and it was a final heart attack to which he succumbed.
K P Duncan
[The Independent, 15 July 1994; Brit.med.J., 1994,309,335; Proc.Roy.Coll.Phycns.Edin., 25,5,1995]
(Volume X, page 406)
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