Lives of the fellows

George Simon

b.4 September 1902 d.30 September 1977
MRCS LRCP(1925) MB BChir Cantab(1927) DMRE(1927) MD(1938) FFR(1947) MRCP(1958) FRCP(1964)

George Simon was born at Sale, Cheshire, the son of Louis Simon, cotton shipper, and his wife Louisa, daughter of Moritz Rothenstein, wool merchant, and sister of the artists William Rothenstein and Albert Rutherston.

He was educated at Charterhouse, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, qualifying with the conjoint diploma in 1925, and graduating MB BChir in 1927. The early onset of deafness, which rapidly became severe, led to his decision to take up dianostic radiology rather than clinical medicine. In the 1930s he was chief assistant in radiology at Bart’s, and was working as part time radiologist at a number of peripheral hospitals. At the beginning of the second world war, he was posted in the emergency medical service to the sector hospital at Hill End, St Albans, where one of his clinical colleagues recalls that ‘he did a superb job — nothing was too much trouble and he worked incredibly long hours’. He was appointed consultant radiologist to Bart’s in 1945, and to the Brompton Hospital in 1948; it was at these two hospitals that he built up a world wide reputation as a clinical radiologist and, above all, as a teacher of radiology to both undergraduates and postgraduate students.

He wrote textbooks on X-ray Diagnosis (1949, 3rd edition 1975), Principles of Bone X-ray Diagnosis (1960, 3rd edition 1973), Principles of Chest X-ray Diagnosis (1965, 4th edition 1978, translated into Spanish 1965) and, jointly, on Surface and Radiological Anatomy (4th edition 1958) and X-ray Anatomy (1978). He also wrote more than 100 papers in journals. He had a remarkable capacity for concentrated work, and a special aptitude for collaborative studies with clinicians, pathologists, physiologists and anatomists. His principal original contributions were to chest radiology, especially in relation to chronic bronchitis and emphysema. He insisted upon the importance of description of radiological appearances as shadows before interpretation of them, and upon obtaining the maximum of information from simple methods. He gave the Marc Daniels lecture in 1966 on ‘Radiology in epidemiological studies and some therapeutic trials’. The Thoracic Society acknowledged his outstanding contribution to respiratory medicine by electing him its president in 1967. His activities for the Royal College of Radiologists were recognized by the establishment of a George Simon lecture, the first of which he gave in 1974. He was a founder member of the Fleischner Society, and was a regular contributor to its meetings in the United States and Canada; this society initiated in his memory an award for the best paper by a junior at its annual meeting.

He was at his best in informal teaching, to which he devoted much time and effort. For many years, he conducted at Brompton Hospital a weekly evening seminar on chest radiology, which, though unadvertised and not part of any official course, was enthusiastically attended. Another important part of his teaching activities was the creation of radiological film libraries at Bart’s and the Brompton, and for the Royal College of Radiologists.

George Simon was of somewhat below average height. His short figure hurrying in to sit in the front row of the lecture theatre, usually with a bundle of X-rays under his arm; his hearing aid operating at such power that those sitting near him could hear it blasting into his ear, so that he never missed a point in discussion; and the distinctive voice occasioned by his deafness, but nevertheless so well articulated as to be notably clear, were recognized with affection and respect for many years by his colleagues and by students at Bart’s and Brompton. After his official retirement in 1967 they became well known also at Hammersmith, the National Heart, University College, King’s College and Northwick Park Hospitals, where he undertook further teaching activities. In his limited leisure, he maintained a well informed interest in art, and, in spite of his deafness, in music; and played tennis. He enjoyed travel, regarding his visits to meetings abroad as in part recreation.

By his first marriage, he had one daughter. In 1945 he married Joanna Mary, daughter of John Shuckburgh, civil servant, and they had two daughters and a son. He died suddenly at home in London, after a few months of failing health.

JG Scadding

[Times, 30 Sept 1977; Brit.med.J., 1977, 2, 1031, 1094; Lancet, 1977, 2, 776; Brit.J.Radiol, 51 (602); 159, Feb 1978]

(Volume VII, page 536)

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