Lives of the fellows

Martin Richard Thomas

b.20 April 1908 d.8 July 2004
MRCS LRCP(1930) MB BS Lond(1931) MD(1934) MRCP(1934) FRCPath(1963) FRCP(1970)

Dick Thomas was a consultant pathologist and histopathologist at Plymouth General Hospital. He was born in Lanelli, south Wales, the son of Tudor James Thomas, a science school master, and Margaret Edith Thomas. He was educated at Llanelli County School. His medical training was at University College Hospital London (UCH), qualifying in 1930. After house jobs, he took up pathology, becoming assistant pathologist at UCH in 1937. The following year he was appointed as an assistant pathologist at Plymouth.

Severe deafness prevented his entry to the armed forces at the outbreak of the war, and he continued working as a pathologist, also during the war years acting as an assistant physician. In 1941 he married Barbara Black, also a doctor at the hospital. They went on to have a son and a daughter.

In the early 1960s, when postgraduate education was developing, he enthusiastically took an active role producing material of excellent standard for clinico-pathological conferences and other activities. He retired in 1973.

Outside medicine, Dick was a keen musician and was organist at his local church at Meavy for 20 years. He also played the clarinet and piano, and, even in his 90s and virtually blind from central macular degeneration, would sit at the piano playing hymn tunes from memory.

Following a stapedectomy at the age of 60, he gained considerable relief from his deafness, commenting: "I did not realise what a noisy place the world was". In retirement he was very active, walking weekly over Dartmoor with a local group, often accompanied in the school holidays by some of his six grandchildren, of whom he was very proud and fond. At their golden wedding anniversary celebration, all six children sang to their grandparents.

At his 90th birthday party he spoke eloquently, commenting: "all my life I have been dogged by good luck". After his wife's death, he lived in a nursing home for two years until his death at the age of 96. He remained remarkably contented, saying only a few weeks before his death: "it is wonderful to be alive". Dick Thomas was a lovely person and one who will be long remembered.

H M Leather

(Volume XII, page web)

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