Lives of the fellows

Robert Ewing Rodgers

b.21 March 1911 d.2 January 1985
BA Cantab(1932) MRCS LRCP(1935) BChir(1935) MB(1938) MD(1940) MRCP(1941) FRCP(1969)

Robert Ewing Rodgers was born in Sunderland, Co Durham, where his father, Albert Nathaniel Ewing Rodgers, was a doctor whose wife, Edith Isabel Jane Sim, was the daughter of a research chemist.

Robert was educated at Oundle School, Queen’s College, Cambridge, and St Thomas’s Hospital, London. After qualification he went into general practice. In 1939 he suffered an accident and was advised to give up medicine, which he ignored and proceeded to undertake various house appointments, including the Evelina Hospital for Children. He obtained his doctorate in 1940 and was then appointed registrar to the Sheffield Royal Infirmary under Robert Platt, later Lord Platt [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.470]. After obtaining his membership of the College he entered the RAF Reserve as a medical specialist, with the rank of squadron leader, but was invalided out in 1943 with a prolapsed disc. He was chief assistant to James Livingstone (q.v.) at the Brompton Hospital (evacuated to Horton) and then at the Royal Free Hospital under Theo Hoskin [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.201].

In 1946 Robert Rodgers was appointed consultant physician to Acton Hospital, and in the same year to the Bolingbroke Hospital,holding both posts until his retirement in 1976. He was elected a Fellow of the College in 1969.

The Bolingbroke Hospital was his centre of gravity and from the knowledge he had gained during a period in the USA in 1967, and his own enthusiasm, he set up one of the first coronary care units in the country. He was primarily a clinician and practical doctor, displaying considerable enthusiasm for his subject and defending his beloved hospital in committee.

Rodgers displayed a certain impatience with those who did not accept his point of view, and had little insight into the reason why others sometimes grew impatient with him - both in regard to his peers and occasionally with patients who refused to accept his advice. But he repaid loyalty and hard work among his juniors and secretarial staff by championing their cause if their position were threatened, and he took an interest in furthering their careers. He was a perfectionist for minor detail and time was of no importance if he wished to make a point.

He was an earnest and sincere physician, capable rather than brilliant, with a somewhat petulant manner if crossed but holding his patients’ interests very much at heart.

He married Dorothy Joyce, née Riddle, in 1940 and they had three children, a son and two daughters. He was greatly devoted to his family and supported by a strong Christian faith.

M Dulake

[Brit.med.J., 1985,290,476-7]

(Volume VIII, page 423)

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