Lives of the fellows

Cyril James Williams

b.22 April 1915 d.26 April 1985
MB ChB Liverp(1938) MRCP(1946) MD(1949) FRCP(1969)

Cyril James Williams was born in Dinorwic on the Menai Strait, where his father was headmaster of the local school. His mother, Charlotte Anne Clee, was the daughter of a slate mine manager in Ffestiniog, where Cyril was later to receive his secondary school education. Young men from North Wales usually chose London or Liverpool for their medical education, and Cyril Williams journeyed north to enter Liverpool Medical School. He qualified in 1938 after a distinguished undergraduate career which included the gold medal in medicine. Because of the sudden death of his father he was forced into general practice in Standish, south-west Lancashire, in order to provide a family budget. Within twelve months his two senior partners, who were both in the Territorial Army, were called up and he was left running a large practice single-handed throughout the war years. In spite of his workload he found time to hold a commission in the Home Guard and, in the later war years, assisted the senior visiting physician in out-patients at Wigan Infirmary. In 1946 he passed the MRCP at his first attempt and, to his great surprise, was called up into the RAMC in the next year.

Williams served with distinction in Malaya as a medical specialist, and during this time he collaborated with an American research team introducing chloramphenicol in the treatment of typhoid and typhus. In 1949 he returned to Liverpool and joined the staff of Walton Hospital, where he proceeded from registrar to senior registrar to consultant within an 18 month period. He was known affectionately by padents and all members of the staff as ‘CJ’ and he lived in a hospital flat, even after he married his ward sister, Phyllis Baker. Throughout these years he devoted his whole time to clinical medicine, and his nightly visits to the wards were a reflection of his dedication to patient care. More than once the writer was embarrassed to be second to reach the bedside when on call. Williams’ reputation as a diagnostician and teacher was established at this time, and doctors from Merseyside came to enjoy his ward rounds. Although never a gossip, he had an innate sense for the social life within the hospital; stories being retold with a little Welsh lilt. He remained fluent in his native tongue in spite of being away from the Principality for so long.

As the years went by ‘CJ’ found great difficulty in coming to terms with the changes in hospital medical practice, the concept of a unit of medical time being quite abhorrent to him. Following major surgery, he retired at the age of 60 on health grounds. He had moved to surburban Liverpool when his children had reached school age and the last ten years of his life were spent in quiet retirement, devoted to his house and garden. He was survived by his wife and daughter, and a doctor son of whom he was very proud.

IK Brown

[Brit.med.J.,1985,291,148]

(Volume VIII, page 539)

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