Lives of the fellows

Kenneth Edward Gray

b.5 April 1937 d.7 April 2005
MB BChir Cantab(1962) MA(1968) MRCP(1968) FRCP(1979)

During his distinguished career as a cardiologist, Ken Gray demonstrated an exceptional commitment and dynamism, both in a professional and voluntary capacity. He was a discreet man, respected, popular and held in high esteem by both peers and friends alike. He always underplayed his successes, rarely referring to the many articles, prestigious postings and fundamental research he had achieved. He was an eminently generous person who without any doubt gave much more than he received.

Born in Southend-on-Sea, the second son of a telegraph operator, he was educated at Mercer's School, London. In 1955 he went to Pembroke College, Cambridge, to study natural sciences with a medical slant and rowed in the medical boat. A fellow Pembroke student remembers him as a superb mimic, imitating the eccentric dean, the Reverend Meredith Dewey, and befriending the don, Sir Geoffrey Keynes, who allowed him access to his superb collection of original William Blake engravings.

After graduating, Ken attended St Bartholomew's Hospital medical school. He held junior posts in Salisbury, Exeter and Plymouth, and gained some experience of general practice, briefly in Canada and Devon. He was a senior medical registrar at United Bristol Hospitals from 1970 to 1974, before moving to Barnet General Hospital as a consultant cardiologist, which commenced with his own heart attack. He wrote a book based on his personal experiences of this condition, for the benefit of patients, under the pseudonym of Kenneth Edwards.

Ken was head of the cardiology department of Barnet Hospital, Finchley Memorial Hospital and Potters Bar Hospital from 1975 to 2004, when he retired. At Barnet he was responsible for dragging cardiology into the 20th century, and set up the coronary care and pacing units. He ran the postgraduate centre and served on various committees, including a committee for the appointment of junior staff. He was also honorary consultant cardiologist to Harefield Hospital, Middlesex, the Dispensaire Francais, London, and Harperbury Hospital, Herts. His love of all things French and the ability to speak the language fluently led him to join the French Clinic in 1978. Here he practiced cardiology in a voluntary capacity for more than 27 years, becoming the clinic's president in 2003.

He wrote a substantial number of scientific papers, with regular publications in The Lancet. He also became a member of many medical associations and societies.

Ken's hobbies defined his character and personality. There was almost an obsession for trying out new things, such as hang gliding, water skiing, flying, roller blading, snowboarding and learning the clarinet. He enjoyed travel, often including several skiing trips per season, and in later years globe-trotted extensively with his family. On holiday he was a conspicuous figure - his bright plaid shirt would be teamed up with a pair of uncomplimentary, though equally bright, shorts and a bargain pair of shoes, invariably ill-fitting. He was a keen linguist, with phrase books and learning cassettes for 13 different languages among the inhabitants of his bookshelf.

Appreciation of the arts and music figured among his favourite pastimes, and he frequently attended outdoor Shakespeare productions, private art gallery viewings, ballet, opera, choral, soloist and orchestral performances and concerts. In addition, he was a member and keen supporter of many local groups and societies, including the Radlett Literary Society, leading presentations on the works of Voltaire and Victor Hugo, and had recently become a member of Rotary.

He had a grapevine in the garden, and friends and family have fond memories of the production of Radlett rose, a fine wine with just a hint of 'je ne sais quois'. He would spend ages trimming and pruning his toenails then, dressed in his swimming trunks, would climb into a black bin and set about treading the grapes.

He was in essence a kind, considerate and adventurous English gentleman, who now and again was considered slightly eccentric. He always lived life to the full, believing that, after a heart by-pass operation 30 years ago, he was on borrowed time. He died of a heart attack while skiing off piste in Switzerland. He is survived by his wife, Rosamund, whom he married in 1966, and his three children, Sarah, Chris and Tim.

Sarah Green

(Volume XII, page web)

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