Lives of the fellows

Alexander Joseph Wilmot

b.21 April 1916 d.20 November 1970
BM BCh Oxon(1941) DM(1950) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1967) FRS SA(1970)

Alexander Joseph Wilmot was born in South Africa, the only son of Joseph Urban Wilmot, a farmer at Beaufort West in the mountains of the Karroo, and Margaret Zipporah, born Featherstone. From them he inherited many of his sterling qualities. ‘Alex’ Wilmot was educated at Diocesan College, Rondebosch, Oriel College, Oxford, and the Middlesex Hospital, London, where he qualified in 1941. During the war of 1939-45 he saw service in Italy and Austria.

After several years working at King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, and studying in London, he practised as a specialist physician in Durban before joining the staff of the newly formed faculty of medicine of the University of Natal, where the much needed training of black students took place. Here, for sixteen years, he played a major part in founding the department of medicine and in setting the new medical school on a sound footing. The university recognized his merit by conferring an associate professorship on him in 1962. He was made a Fellow of the College in 1967 and FRS (SA) shortly before his death in 1970, aged 54 years.

Wilmot contributed widely to the literature on amoebiasis. His monograph Clinical Amoebiasis was published in Oxford in 1962: a model of clarity of thought and expression, and an authoritative account of the disease based on his own wide clinical experience.

To his students and colleagues he was the kindly critic, the wise physician and the competent teacher, seen at his best at the bedside and on teaching rounds. At more formal clinical meetings he only spoke when he could do so with authority. His friends remember him as a keen naturalist, with a love of the nuances of living things which must have been kindled by his Karroo upbringing; or as the amateur carpenter; or the sportsman, playing cricket, tennis and squash to the last; meeting his death on a squash court. All who knew him regarded him as a wise and modest man; too wise to venture a hasty opinion and so modest that he was embarrassed by the distinctions which came his way.

In 1947 he married Annette, daughter of Charles Herman Maasdorp, a solicitor. They had one son and three daughters.

EB Adams

[Lancet, 1970, 2, 1262; Natal Mercury, Durban, 23 Nov 1970]

(Volume VI, page 464)

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