Lives of the fellows

Thomas Hudson Beare

b.17 September 1926 d.22 July 2009
MB BS Adelaide(1952) MRCP(1956) FRCP(1983) FRACP FRCP Edin

Thomas Hudson Beare (‘Tom’) was a paediatrician at Adelaide Children’s Hospital, South Australia. Born in Adelaide, he was the son of Frank Howard Beare (‘Teddy’) and his wife Beatrice Amelia. His father had been a GP at Henley Beach, and then became a physician at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH). A foundation fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Frank had served as a medical officer in the Army in both the First and the Second World Wars. A talented physician, Beare senior was also at times rather brusque and intolerant; it was said that his son inherited his skills but not his temperament. His younger brother, James Hudson Beare, was also a physician.

Educated at Queen’s College and then St Peter’s College, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War, training to be a navigator. On demobilisation he was able to enter the Adelaide Medical School though the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Qualifying in 1952, he did house jobs at the RAH for a year before moving to the Adelaide Children’s Hospital (ACH), where he developed his interest in paediatrics and stayed for two years as a medical and surgical registrar.

Deciding to visit the UK for further training, he got an appointment on the Blue Funnel Line ship Nestor as a ship’s surgeon. He gained his membership of the Edinburgh College of Physicians (specialising in neurology) and then he proceeded to study for his MRCP. He spent two years in the UK from 1955 to 1957, and, during that time, gained valuable experience at Great Ormond St Hospital and a course in tropical medicine.

On his return to Adelaide, he started his own paediatric practice at the ACH in 1958, after acting there as a locum, and from 1964 to 1978 also worked as a senior visiting paediatrician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, specialising in neonatal care. During this time he also travelled to Vietnam as part of an Australian volunteer team from the Citizen Military Forces asked to provide a field hospital to care for service men and women. He was there in 1968 when the Vietcong launched the huge ‘Tet Offensive’. With an enormous workload, he was on duty 24 hours a day and the tropical medicine course he had done proved extremely useful. On his return he remained in the Army reserve, eventually becoming colonel and deputy director of medical services.

At the ACH he built up a reputation as a great clinician, teacher and administrator and was chairman of several committees. He was a life member of the Australian Medical Association (SA). Credited with the development and expansion of his speciality, when he died the then CEO of the hospital paid tribute to his lasting legacy in the care of sick children.

He enjoyed a game of golf, tennis or bowls. Playing bridge and listening to classical music were other enthusiasms.

In 1959, he married Julien Ormsby (‘Julie’) née Downey, whose father, Donnel Raymond Downey, was a lawyer. They had two sons and two daughters. When he died from the recurrence of an old melanoma (and, apparently, beating time to the music of Mozart), Julie survived him, together with their children and five grandsons. His son Michael contacted the RCP to inform them of his death.

RCP editor

[medicSA October 2009]

(Volume XII, page web)

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