Lives of the fellows

Morvyn Williams

b.29 January 1910 d.15 April 1979
MA MB BChir Cantab(1934) MRCP(1935) FRCP(1959) FRACP(1938) Hon FACP(1966) Hon FRANZCP(1966)

Notwithstanding Tim Williams’ distinction as a physician, it is as a man and a companion that he will be remembered by a greater host of friends than most people have the good fortune to claim.

He was born in Masterton, New Zealand, the second son of HG Williams of Lansdowne and a great-grandson of the pioneer missionary Henry Williams. His mother, Helen Jones, had come from Wales to settle in the new country, and one of his grandmothers was a Beetham. Tim’s descent from two of the more prominent colonist families led naturally to his great interest in and love of early New Zealand history, its places and personalities.

In pre-war days it was not unusual for young New Zealanders to be sent to university in Britain and, after school at Christ’s College, Tim entered Jesus College, Cambridge, where he captained the rugby side and won an honours degree. Thereafter he qualified in medicine from St George’s Hospital, London, and before long had become in 1935 one of the youngest successful MRCP candidates. In 1937 he returned to an appointment as visiting physician to Wellington Hospital, a post he held until his retirement in 1975.

During the war he served in the New Zealand Medical Corps in the Middle East and the Pacific and he remained in the Medical Corps for some years afterwards, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was a member of the War Pensions Appeal Board until the time of his death. In due course he had become senior physician to Wellington Hospital and chairman of its medical staff, serving in these capacities on many hospital, health department and other official committees. From 1969 he was the nominee of the Royal Australasian College to the New Zealand Medical Council.

Although the London College retained his loyalty to the end, in 1938 Tim became a foundation fellow of the newly formed Australasian College of Physicians, and thereafter worked unsparingly to increase its stature and scope. He was appointed to the New Zealand board of censors and later, between 1962 and 1968, served twice as chairman of the New Zealand committee. He was elected to council in 1956 and in 1964 became the second New Zealander to be elected president. During his term of office he travelled widely, and his massive and friendly presence was a familiar one in many parts of Australasia, Britain and North America.

Beyond the confines of medicine Tim’s interests were far-reaching. Continuing a family interest, he was chairman of Independent Newspapers Ltd and a member of the Historic Places Trust. He had a great love for his farm at Kumu Kumu in the Wairarapa, and a range of enthusiasms which included music, vintage cars and fishing. His knowledge of rugby and cricket made it a delight to have him as a companion at a big match. He was big in stature and big of heart, a great conversationalist, a mimic and wonderful company.

In 1938 Tim married Philippa, daughter of DHS Riddiford of Longwood, Wairarapa, and he was happiest of all in the company of his wife and four daughters, whose keen minds and high spirits so well complemented his own.

JM Tweed

[The Dominion, Wellington NZ, April 1979; Eulogy Funeral Service, St Paul’s Cathedral, Wellington, 19 Apr 1979]

(Volume VII, page 607)

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