Lives of the fellows

Oswald Arthur Savage

b.23 May 1907 d.10 February 1995
OBE(1945) MRCS LRCP(1932) MRCP(1937) FRCP(1957)

Oswald Savage was born in Marlpool, Nottinghamshire, where his father was a mining engineer. He was orphaned at the age of 11 and was brought up by his grandmother, his sister, Betty, and her husband, Victor Robinson. They strongly encouraged him to follow a career in medicine and after St Bees School, Cumberland, he entered St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School, London. He was a good athlete and represented Bart’s at rugby and tennis.

After qualification he worked in general medicine and then joined W S C Copeman [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.120] in studying and treating rheumatic diseases. He became one of the first British physicians to take up rheumatology as a medical specialty. With the advent of the Second World War, he joined the RAMC and was appointed officer commanding the medical division of the 65th British General Hospital in Naples, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the OBE for his services in Italy.

Back in civilian life, he was appointed consultant rheumatologist to the Arthur Stanley Institute at the Middlesex Hospital and at the West London Hospital where later he was to be instrumental in encouraging the endowment and foundation of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology. He was active in the Empire Rheumatism Council - later renamed the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council - being its honorary secretary for 22 years. He was also a member of the Heberden Society, becoming president in 1966.

Oswald Savage was very popular with his colleagues and his patients. He had a quiet, sympathetic manner and treated his patients as individuals and not as rheumatic syndromes. He was much involved in clinical research and was one of the first clinicians to use corticosteroids in rheumatoid arthritis, becoming an authority on this treatment and attending many conferences in Britain and abroad. He was an honorary member of the Medical Societies of France and the USA.

He married Katharine (Kitty) Sanford in 1938 and they had one son, Martin. There were also two stepchildren, Sandy and Christine. In 1969 he retired from medicine and went with Kitty, to whom he was deeply attached, to live in France, near St Tropez. There he became a keen gardener and also developed his skill as an artist. In 1982 one of his landscape paintings was hung in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. He returned to Britain to live in London and look after his wife. He continued to paint enthusiastically and studied at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in Fulham, which he attended regularly until a few days before his death. He was a truly a gentleman, devoted to his family, modest, self-effacing, charitable and kindly.

F Dudley Hart

[Brit.med.J., 1995,311,324; The Independent, 21 Mar 1995]

(Volume X, page 432)

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