Lives of the fellows

Walter Graham Spector

b.20 December 1924 d.1 January 1982
MRCS LRCP(1947) MB BChir Cantab(1947) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1966) FRCPath(1972)

Walter Spector, the only son of Henry and Sarah, was educated at the City of London School and at Queen’s College, Cambridge, where he did his pre-clinical studies. He came to University College Hospital Medical School for his clinical years, and qualified in 1947. He served as house physician to the paediatric unit at UCH, where he acquired an interest in childhood disease which never left him, but his career truly began when he joined Professor (later Sir Roy) Cameron in 1949 as Graham scholar in pathology. It was then that he learned his skill as an experimental pathologist, and began the work on mediators of the inflammatory response which he continued for the rest of his life. He remained in Sir Roy’s department until 1962, becoming Beit memorial fellow (1951 — 1953), lecturer (1953-1960) and senior lecturer (1960-1962). He had an outstandingly successful career as research worker and teacher in these years. In 1956-1957 he was awarded a Rockefeller travelling fellowship, which took him to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne. It was no surprise when he was appointed to the chair in pathology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1962, at the early age of 38.

After his appointment to the chair, he was called upon to serve on many advisory bodies. He served the Medical Research Council, he was secretary to the Beit memorial advisory board, he was a member of the Council of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and of the Cancer Research Campaign. He became treasurer of the Society of Pathologists and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pathology. He was a member of the scientific board of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death, and a governor of St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

There was more to Wally Spector than this conventional account of a successful career shows. His slight figure and apparently diffident manner concealed a firm mind and a strong temperament. His friendships lasted for life, and to his friends he never changed. He had a dry sense of humour and was the author of many bon mots which are remembered and quoted by his old colleagues. We remember him with affection and with gratitude for the many joyous times that we had together. Amongst them were the journeys we made as young men to look at English churches and old country houses. One also recalls a memorable visit to the chateaux of the Loire when, apart from enjoying the houses, it was also possible to follow his taste in wine, of which he had a considerable knowledge. In 1957 he married June Routley of Melbourne. There were two sons of this marriage, which was dissolved in 1977.

His death at such an early age was a terrible blow to his friends, who remember him daily with sorrow for his loss, and with pride and affection for the gift of his friendship.

JD Judah

[Brit.med.J., 1982, 284, 429; Lancet, 1982, 1, 233-4]

(Volume VII, page 550)

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