Lives of the fellows

Jacob Schneider

b.27 February 1923 d.23 September 1987
MB BCh Wits(1949) DTM&H Eng(1952) DMed Wits(1956) MD(1958) MRCPE(1958) MRCP(1958) FRCPE(1972) FRACP(1979) FRCP(1986)

Jacob Schneider (Jack) was born in Johannesburg and graduated in medicine and surgery from the University of Witwatersrand. This was the start of a lifelong commitment to general medicine, tropical medicine and infectious disease. He came to London to study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and obtained his DTM&H. He was later awarded a doctorate by the University of Witwatersrand for an original thesis on intestinal schistosomiasis. This was followed by membership of the College, and of the Edinburgh College, and he was subsequently elected a Fellow of both.

On his return to South Africa in 1961 he held appointments as consultant physician at the Natalspruit Hospital, as part-time gastroenterologist at the Johannesburg hospital, consultant venereologist to the Johannesburg City Council and lecturer in the subject at the University of Witwatersrand, as well as being lecturer in tropical medicine.

Jack Schneider’s growing concern with social injustice and racial prejudice in South Africa led him and his family to emigrate to Australia in 1977. They successfully met the challenges of a new life in Perth. He was initially appointed as physician in extended care at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and shortly afterwards as a general physician. In 1983 he became director of postgraduate medical education at the hospital, while still retaining a special interest in infectious disease.

This brief history gives only the bare outline of a man who embodied all that is best in a physician and human being. He had knowledge, clinical skills and judgement in ample quantity, but his understanding of human nature, his empathy, warmth, humour and dedication to his patients were shining examples to his students and the medical and nursing staff. To medical students, in particular, he emphasized the importance of caring as a total commitment to the well-being of each patient, which included not only training in the essential scientific skills of medicine but also the application of those skills with a sensible concern for the physical, psychological and social circumstances of the individual.

Jack’s substantial contribution to professional life was paralleled by his involvement in the wider community in which he lived. He had a great love of Jewish tradition and exemplified its values of justice and charity. Singing gave him great pleasure, and he was one of Perth’s leading exponents of Jewish Liturgy and Yiddish folk songs. His deep baritone voice enriched many social gatherings, religious festivals and charitable functions.

Jack Schneider was a fine, undemanding and gentle man. His loving and supportive wife, Diana, and his two children, Jill and Mark, survived him together with his grandchildren Rachel and David.

LJ Beilin

(Volume VIII, page 442)

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