Lives of the fellows

Frank Wemyss Smith

b.23 June 1912 d.13 July 1990
BSc Manch(1933) MRCS LRCP(1936) MB ChB(1936) MA Cantab(1938) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1971)

Frank Smith was born in Lymm, Cheshire, the eldest of four children of Charles Frederick Smith, an insurance broker. The Wemyss came from his mother’s maiden name. After preparatory school he went to Altrincham Grammar School and then to Manchester University. On graduation he became house surgeon to the neurosurgical unit under Geoffrey Jefferson, later Sir Geoffrey [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.213], and subsequently became demonstrator in anatomy - at first in Manchester 1937-38 and then at Cambridge 1938-41. After war service as a captain in the RAMC in Britain, from 1941-46, he decided to specialize in medicine and returned to the north of England, first as a registrar at Salford Royal Infirmary 1946-47 and then at Manchester Royal Infirmary 1948-50. Having obtained his membership of the College he became senior registrar to Robert Platt, later Lord Platt [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.470], working with him and Douglas Black, later Sir Douglas, and also Bill Stanbury, in the professorial unit at Manchester. He was joint author of a paper in Clinical Science on ‘Experimental renal failure’.

The important event in his life, and in the town of Macclesfield, was when he became the first real consultant physician in Macclesfield in 1952. He had hardly any junior staff, only a part-time consultant colleague, yet he looked after an enormous number of acute and geriatric beds. He played a major part in transforming the hospitals of Macclesfield into one good district general hospital. He was available to help the local practitioners and served on the hospital management committee. Unfortunately, although he helped in the design of the new hospital it arrived too late for him to work in it. He retired in 1977 and after retirement was a part-time clinical assistant in the department of clinical medicine at Manchester Royal Infirmary from 1977 to 1981.

As a citizen of Macclesfield he played more than a full part. He was a divisional medical officer for the British Red Cross Society, receiving their certificate of honour and life membership. He supported the Leonard Cheshire Homes, was twice president of the Rotarians, was a Freemason, past president of the Macclesfield Camera Club, a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, of English Heritage and of the Civic Society. He was also an active member of the local branch of the BMA. He enjoyed his garden, the Hallé and the Northern Chamber Orchestra. Few people could have played such an active part in the life of the town.

In 1938 he married his wife Ethel, née Trueman, a hospital sister and daughter of a farmer, who died in 1976. They had three children, two daughters and a son. One daughter was a radiographer and later became a social worker, the other is a nurse and a midwife. The great tragedy in Frank Smith’s life was that his son was mentally handicapped.

S Oleesky

[Brit.med.J., 1990,301,605-6]

(Volume IX, page 485)

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