Lives of the fellows

Derek Peter Gordon-Smith

b.10 December 1924 d.27 March 2006
MB BCh Wits(1948) FCP SA(1962) MMed Derm(1965) Hon FCM SA(1993) FRCP(1996)

Peter Gordon-Smith was a dermatologist in Johannesburg and a former president of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. He was born in Johannesburg, the son of Stanley Henry Gordon-Smith, a banker, and Dorothy Tweedie Gordon-Smith, a housewife. Peter’s brother, Desmond, went on to become a professor of preventive medicine. Peter was educated at Jeppe High School, and then went on to the University of Witwatersrand to study medicine. He qualified MB BCh in 1948.

He held house posts, in surgery, medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, and accident surgery at Johannesburg General Hospital. Deciding initially to become a surgeon, he completed three years of surgical training under John Alexander Douglas, also in Johannesburg, and then, in 1954, enrolled in the basic sciences course at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. From 1954 to 1955, he was a senior house officer at Horton General Hospital, Banbury.

In 1956 he returned to Johannesburg, where he spent the next three years in general practice. In 1959 he was appointed as a medical registrar at the Baragwanath Hospital and the University of Witwatersrand. In 1962 he gained his fellowship of the College of Physicians of South Africa. He decided to specialise in dermatology, and in 1964 he became a full-time clinical assistant in the department of dermatology at the University of Pretoria.

He then set up in private practice in Johannesburg as a dermatologist. He also taught at Witwatersrand for more than 30 years, for which he was awarded the faculty of health sciences 75th jubilee medal. From 1966 to 1988 he was also a visiting dermatologist in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

He was president of the Dermatology Society of South Africa between 1970 and 1978. At the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) he was an examiner, a member of the examinations and credentials committee, and of the council. He served as honorary registrar from 1974 to 1983 and as chairman of the faculty of dermatology from 1970 until 1995. He was chairman of the fundraising subcommittee, and helped secure the funds to complete the new college building in Johannesburg. He was elected president of CMSA in 1995, serving for three years. In 2005, on the occasion of the colleges’ golden jubilee, he was presented with a special award, honouring his services.

In 1955 he married Denise Susan Cochrane. They had two children – John and Louise. His daughter followed him into medicine, becoming a pathologist.

RCP editor

[Transactions of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa July-December 1993 p.39; Transactions of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa Vol.50 Number 1 Jan-Jun 2006 p.64]

(Volume XII, page web)

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