Lives of the fellows

David Iorwerth Williams

b.7 May 1913 d.6 November 1994
MRCS LRCP(1937) MB BS Lond(1938) MRCP(1946) FRCP(1953)

David Williams was an excellent clinical dermatologist who gave a lifetime of service to his specialty and to King’s College Medical School.He was born in Aberystwyth, Wales, where his father was a schoolmaster. His early education was at Dulwich School where he won a scholarship to Dulwich College. Having decided to become a doctor, he entered King’s College Hospital Medical School. During his student years he won the Raymond Gooch, the Warneford and the Rabbeth scholarships. He also played tennis and fives for King’s and was affectionately known as ‘D I’. In 1939 he married Ethel Margaret Wiseman, known as ‘Bim’, and they had two children. She gave him unerring support throughout their married life.

David held house posts at King’s until 1940 when, with the advent of war, he joined the RAMC. He served as a venereologist and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. On demoblization in 1946 he returned to King’s and civilian life. After a year as senior registrar in the skin department he was appointed as a consultant dermatologist in 1947 and devoted much time and energy to the hospital and medical school for the rest of his life. He was vice-dean of the medical school in 1957, a member of the board of governors of the hospital, a member of the King’s College Hospital special trustees and of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Area Health Authority. Like his two distinguished dermatological predecessors, Whitfield [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.470] and Drake [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.110], he was elected dean of the school in 1966 and held the post until his retirement in 1977. His years in office were by no means easy but he dealt with difficult administrative problems with great skill and patience. Although he was always busy, medical students with problems were always sure of a helpful and sympathetic hearing at the ‘open door’ sessions he held each week.

'D I’ wrote many articles on various topics, but perhaps the one which gave him most pleasure was on the oral treatment of ringworm with Griseofulvin, published by The Lancet in 1958. It was an important breakthrough as it was the first report on this topic and the first effective oral treatment of ringworm infections. In 1965 David was awarded the Sir Archibald Gray medal for outstanding contributions to dermatology in the previous five years. He was a past president of the section of dermatology at the Royal Society of Medicine and president of the British Association of Dermatologists from 1975 to 1976, being also elected an honorary member of many overseas dermatological societies.

His leisure interests included gardening, golf and music. He was a member of Langley Park Golf Club, Beckenham, and regularly competed in the British Association of Dermatologists annual golf match, where he was a feared opponent. He was also a rugby enthusiast - particularly when Wales were playing. He would be glued to his TV screen if he was not at Cardiff Arms Park singing and urging on his compatriots. As a true Welshman he was naturally a great music lover, especially of opera, and was an accomplished clarinettist. Even after a stroke which restricted his physical activities, his mind was quite clear and he regularly completed The Times crossword before lunch.

R H Marten

(Volume X, page 521)

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