Lives of the fellows

Sidney Hodder Caslake Hawes

b.29 January 1921 d.2 August 2004
MB ChB NZ(1943) MRCP(1949) MRACP(1957) FRACP(1961) FRCP(1974)

Sidney ‘Sid’ Hawes was medical superintendant of Timaru Hospital, New Zealand, for 31 years. Born in Christchurch, he was only seven years old when his father, Sidney George Hawes, died suddenly while in his last year at Otago Medical School. His mother, Iris Amelia Jacobs, had to support the family through the Depression, and Sid took on a lot of responsibility from an early age, including taking on labouring jobs. He was educated at George Street School in Dunedin and Otago Boys’ High School and then, following his father’s footsteps, went to Otago Medical School. He graduated in 1943.

He then joined the staff of Dunedin Hospital, before spending two years as a flight-lieutenant in the Royal New Zealand Air Force during the Second World War. He served in the Pacific as a medical officer on the vessel Wanganella.

He then spent a further period at Dunedin Hospital and then worked in general practice at Outram for 18 months. It was while working at Outram that he decided he didn’t want to be a GP as he hated the idea of collecting money from people. He decided to seek further training abroad and became a senior house physician at the Central Middlesex and West Middlesex hospitals in England.

In 1949 he was appointed to Timaru Hospital. Five years later, in 1954, he embarked on further overseas study, spending time in England (at the Hammersmith Hospital, the National Heart Hospital and the National Hospital for Diseases of the Nervous System) and in Scandinavia.

In 1963 he succeeded J C McKenzie as medical superintendent of the Timaru Hospital. During the early years of his career there was a strong emphasis on chest medicine because of the high incidence of tuberculosis. It was also his major field of interest, and he devoted much time to the chest block at Timaru, as well as travelling to the Waimate chest clinic.

Working as a physician and undertaking demanding administration, he taught medical and nursing staff and wrote academic papers on a variety of subjects, including tetanus, tuberculosis and hydatids.

He was for 11 years a member of the abortion supervisory committee and physician to the Claremont Trust, an organisation established to assist people with drug and alcohol problems. He was a foundation committee member of the Tuberculosis Association, and was involved in Alcoholics Anonymous, the Association for Mental Health, the Parents’ Association and Full-time Medical Officers’ Association.

In 1970 he worked in Vietnam at the Qui Nhon Hospital as part of the New Zealand civilian surgical team. He also spent time with the WHO medical team in Tonga in 1975.

He was extremely well read, both in medicine and in most other fields, but was always modest in airing his well considered knowledge and opinions. He was devoted to his medicine and his family, but also had a very active interest in amateur radio since its infancy and in game shooting and tramping, particularly in the Southern Alps.

Married in 1944 to Elizabeth Helen Pilling, they had four sons and one daughter. A compassionate and intellectual man, he touched the lives of many people during his 60 years in medicine. He was a fine physician, loved and respected by his patients, and a devoted teacher of those who worked with him.

J C Doran

[New Zealand Medical Journal, Sept 2004 Vol.117 No.1201]

(Volume XII, page web)

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