Lives of the fellows

Anthony William Stuart Ritchie

b.12 August 1915 d.4 December 1994
MB ChB Otago(1941) MRCP(1948) FRACP(1969)

Tony Ritchie was the third son of Russell and Lucy Ritchie of Dunedin, his father being a prominent obstetrician and general practitioner. He was educated at Waihi and Christ’s College and graduated from the University of New Zealand. Like many of his medical contemporaries he spent only a year as a house surgeon at Christchurch Hospital before leaving for military service. From 1941 to 1945 he served with the 2nd NZEF in the Middle East and Italy, reaching the rank of major. He returned to Christchurch Hospital as a medical registrar before travelling to London to undertake postgraduate training in 1947.

In 1949 he was appointed resident medical officer at the National Heart Hospital, where his teachers included Sir John Parkinson [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.443] and Paul Wood [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.456]. Tony Ritchie was one of many Commonwealth physicians who were inspired by Wood’s masterly bedside diagnostic skills. Wood took a particular interest in Ritchie as he had himself been a resident at Christchurch Hospital, had married the daughter of a Christchurch surgeon and served with New Zealand medical officers in the Middle East and Italy. In 1950, after his time at the Heart Hospital, Tony married Daphne Perrott, a nursing graduate from St Bartholomew’s Hospital who had also served with the Army for three years, and that same year they returned to Christchurch where he commenced practice in cardiology. He was the first Christchurch cardiologist to practice entirely as a consultant and he maintained the highest professional and ethical standards.

Hospital appointments were hard to come by and Tony had to wait until 1958 before being appointed as a physician to the North Canterbury Hospital Board. He was a tutor in cardiology from 1951 to 1958 and later a clinical lecturer of the University of Otago. He carried out the first cardiac catheterization in Christchurch and shared in the early development of the coronary care unit and the department of cardiology at the Princess Margaret Hospital. He was always interested in electrocardiography and, after retiring from the hospital staff in 1980, he began work on a textbook which he published himself from his Fendalton home in 1988. The book was clear and logical, based on well established principles, meticulously prepared and designed to help those who were directly involved in the care and treatment of patients.

He had many interests outside medicine. He appreciated wine and good music and played the piano, clarinet and cello. He was a skilful trout fisherman, played tennis into his late 70s and twice won the Foster cup golf competition in successive years. He was also good with his hands and enjoyed restoring 18th century long case clocks. He was even expert in the repair and resuscitation of a well-known brand of electric toaster.

Tony Ritchie was a conservative physician who upheld the finest traditions of medicine and was troubled by the growing trend to downgrade physical examination and respect for the welfare of patients. He set a worthy example of Christian living, which was reflected in the happiness of his family life. His final illness was a cerebral glioma.

Sir David Hay

(Volume X, page 420)

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