Lives of the fellows

Ian Oliver Stahle

b.2 December 1918 d.28 October 1999
MB BS Melbourne(1941) MD(1946) MRACP(1947) DDM Sydney(1948) MRCP(1949) FRACP(1963) FRCP(1980) FACD

Ian Stahle was a leading dermatologist in Melbourne, Australia. He was born in Victoria, the second son of Leon Stahle. His father was a second generation Australian of German/Swiss extraction - a pharmacist and a land developer. The family lived in Richmond during Ian's early years.

He attended state school and aged 12 he went to Scotch College, Melbourne. At school he was troubled by migraine, but went on to enter medicine at Melbourne University. In the medical course his performance showed little sign of his later brilliance. At the university his colleagues called him 'Olly'. A fellow student describes him as 'dapper - always well dressed and quite a young man about town.' He was a good tennis player and was secretary of the university tennis club.

On graduation in 1941 he entered the Army and was posted to Heidelberg Military Hospital. He worked with dermatological patients and came into contact there with the consultant dermatologist John H Kelly with whom he got on well and who encouraged his interest in this field.

He was next posted to a recruit training camp in Townsville where he was stationed until near the end of hostilities. Then he was attached to a unit training paratroopers and went to Singapore where he was involved in the release of his father, a prisoner of war in the Changi Prison. He left the Army in 1946 with the rank of captain.

After the war he chose a career in dermatology and set out first to study and qualify in general medicine, gaining his MD in 1946 and his membership of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1947. In 1947 he went to Sydney and attended the course in dermatology for the diploma in dermatological medicine, which he obtained in 1948.

During his studies he attended dermatology clinics at the Melbourne teaching hospitals. At the Royal Melbourne Hospital he was an assistant to the then dermatologist John H Kelly, with whom he had previously worked. He had a great rapport with Kelly and he later succeeded him as dermatologist.

He set out for study in the United Kingdom and Europe. In England he obtained his membership of the College. He attended the clinics of many eminent dermatologists in England, Europe and the USA.

On returning to Australia he commenced dermatological practice at 110 Collins Street, Melbourne, and soon moved to the newly built 100 Collins Street, where he practised for the rest of his life. He employed a series of young dermatologists as assistants in his rooms and this was for them a valuable learning experience.

He was dermatologist to the Royal Melbourne Hospital from 1950 to 1979 and was also consultant dermatologist to the Royal Women's Hospital and to the Queen Victoria Hospital. In addition he was a lecturer in the pathology department of the University of Melbourne. He was also a consultant to the Australian Navy and Air Force, and to the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

He was elected to the fellowship of the Royal Austalasian College of Physicians in 1963 and to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1980. He was a consultant dermatologist in the Army and was in the Army reserve, retiring in 1975 as a lieutenant colonel. In 1950 he became a member of the Dermatological Association of Australia and in 1967 was a foundation member and later a fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

After the war he married Beatrice Gray, a union that produced three children - Jane, Peter and Philip. Later he remarried and was with his second wife, Gabriella, for 15 years.

He was an enthusiastic squash player and played regularly at the Naval and Military Club in their team. He always took his squash racquet to dermatological meetings to have a game at the end of the day's programme.

Ian was a regular participant in clinical meetings until near the end of his life and made use of his wide clinical experience to contribute pithy observations.

He practised medicine until three days before his death with bowel cancer and leukaemia. The silver medal of the Australasian College of Dermatologists was awarded to him posthumously and was presented to his widow at the annual scientific meeting of the College in May 2000.

J R Kelly

(Volume XI, page 539)

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