Lives of the fellows

David Everson Dunn

b.1 December 1926 d.21 September 2008
MB BS Adelaide(1951) MRCP(1955) MRACP(1961) FRACP(1969) FRCP(1976)

David Dunn was a highly respected general physician in Adelaide. He was born in Adelaide, the son of John Frederick William Dunn, an accountant, and received his education at Prince Alfred College. He was not only an exceptional academic student, but also a champion gymnast and represented his school in athletics and cricket. In his last year at school (1944) he was both dux and school captain and was also top of the state in the leaving honours examination. He entered the medical school at the University of Adelaide in 1945, graduating in 1951.

Having held various resident positions in Adelaide, he sailed for England in 1953 (as a ship’s surgeon). Beginning his training as a general physician at Hammersmith Hospital, he was then a registrar at St James Hospital, Balham, gaining his MRCP in 1955. Returning to Adelaide in 1956, he established his practice as a general physician, finally retiring in 2001.

He was highly regarded as a diagnostician and teacher. His youthful looks made it difficult initially for patients to accept him as a qualified specialist. His whimsical and gentle style generated not only respect but warmth and affection. In 1956 he initiated a journal club, and colleagues from medicine and surgery of various specialties have met monthly ever since.

He served widely on school and hospital boards. With a colleague (Basil Hetzel), he established the Friends of Vellore support group in Adelaide in 1956. This led to a close relationship between the Christian Medical College of Vellore and the medical school of the University of Adelaide, together with its associated teaching hospitals. He served as an elder at the Scots Church in Adelaide for many years, as well as supporting many other community groups.

He had courted a fellow university student, Anne Southwood. In 1950 she had contracted tuberculous meningitis, and the intrathecal streptomycin used to cure the infection destroyed her hearing. David’s devotion to her was full and continuous. They married in 1953. In 1985 she underwent implantation of a bionic ear developed by Graeme Clark of Melbourne.

Slightly built, Dunn gave the impression of frailty, which was not the case. In later years he required mitral valve surgery and then needed treatment for lymphoma. He and Anne were graced with three children – a son (who is a general practitioner) and two daughters (one a teacher and the other a medical scientist).

Peter S Hetzel

(Volume XII, page web)

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