Lives of the fellows

Albert Freedman

b.22 April 1925 d.28 October 2008
MB BS Sydney(1947) DCH(1951) MRCP(1952) FRACP(1971) FRCP(1983)

Albert Freedman was an oncologist in Sydney, Australia. He was born in Tel Aviv, in what was then the Mandated Territory of Palestine (which became Israel in 1948). His grandparents were escapees from ghetto life and the pogroms in Russia and Poland. His father, Norton Harry Freedman, was a tailor, while his mother, Dina, was the daughter of a merchant. Albert’s father relocated to Australia to set up a business and, in 1929, Albert and his mother travelled to join him. After a long trip by sea and overawed by the culture and language, Dina immediately decided to board the same ship and return to Tel Aviv. However, Dina’s parents eventually persuaded her to go back to Sydney with her son and to settle in Australia. The family struggled to run their clothing factory. Albert Freedman attended Sydney Boys High School and after school used to help his father and mother run the business. In 1942, Albert lost his father, who had been severely ill. He went on to study medicine at the University of Sydney and graduated in 1947.

After junior appointments at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Albert travelled to the UK and worked in the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, followed by appointments in the Royal Marsden Hospital, where he developed an interest in oncology. Having secured his diploma in child health in 1951, he gained his membership of the Royal College of Physicians in 1952.

Returning to Sydney, he met Ruth Robeeno Tyrrell at a meeting of the Jewish community and welfare organisation B’nai B’rith, and married her in 1956. He was appointed visiting medical officer and medical director of the department of oncology at the Prince of Wales Hospital. He was also visiting oncologist at the Royal Hospital for Women. In subsequent years he undertook further training in medical oncology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Stanford-Palo Alto Medical Center in California and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. In 1970, he was appointed medical director of the State Cancer Council of New South Wales, a role he held until 1979. He published papers on oncology in Australian and international medical journals. He took his children and grandchildren to hospitals when he did weekend calls, which they adored.

Outside his medical work he served on the board of Wolper Jewish Hospital from 1985 to 1995. He was a life member of B’nai B’rith, an active member of the board of the Jewish school, Moriah College, the board of the Central Synagogue of Sydney and also Rotary. He had a passionate love for Israel and visited the graves of his grandparents at B’nei B’rak regularly to say his obligatory memorial prayers. He touched the lives of many with his knowledge and entertained all with his corny jokes, especially his habitual punning. He was said by those who knew him closely to be generous to others but mean to himself. He suffered with chronic myeloid leukaemia but his cause of death was metastatic prostatic cancer. In the nature of the man, he continued working until the very end. He died at the Wolper Jewish Hospital after months of care at home by his wife. He was survived by his wife Ruth and his two sons, Harry Freedman, a solicitor in Sydney, and Daniel Freedman, a Wall Street Stockbroker, and six grandchildren.

Krishna Somers

[The Australian Jewish News 12 December 2008 – accessed 26 January 2009]

(Volume XII, page web)

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