Lives of the fellows

James Kerr Finlayson

b.23 February 1923 d.28 November 2009
BSc Aberd(1943) MB ChB(1954) MRCP(1958) FRCP(1973)

James Finlayson (‘Jimmy’) was a consultant general physician with an interest in cardiology at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He was born in Thurso, Caithness, and had a peripatetic childhood as his father, Robert Kerr Finlayson, worked with the customs and excise. His mother was Margaret Jane née Mackay, the daughter of a police sergeant. He was educated at Buckie Public School, the Aberdeen Grammar School and Fettes College in Edinburgh.

He first graduated with honours in civil engineering at Aberdeen University in 1943 and then did four years military service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, serving with the West African Division in West Africa and India, finally attaining the rank of captain.

On demobilisation in 1947, he spent a year with the Tees Valley Water Board, supervising the laying of large drain pipelines and designing part of Broken Scar Pumping Station, Darlington. Some 25 years later he visited the site and was gratified to find it still working.

He changed careers in 1948, deciding to study medicine in Aberdeen. He graduated with honours in 1954. After house posts in Aberdeen and Glasgow, he returned to Aberdeen as a medical registrar, obtaining his MRCP London in 1958. He then spent two years on an exchange in Rochester, New York, as a fellow and instructor in medicine at the Strong Memorial Hospital, and was involved in several research projects in cardiology.

He returned to Aberdeen in 1960 as a senior registrar, where he further developed his interest in cardiology and in 1964 was appointed consultant physician with an interest in cardiology. He was a highly esteemed colleague and always gave a sound opinion. With his engineering background, he developed cardiac pace-making in Aberdeen and, in conjunction with the medical physics department, pioneered telephone transmission of ECGs from patients in Orkney, Shetland, and elsewhere in the region. He was elected FRCP in 1973 and retired in 1985.

In his retirement he played and made the bagpipes, enjoyed time in his workshop working with wood and metal, and sang with the Aberdeen Gaelic Choir.

In 1959 he married Anna Robertson, an Aberdeen medical graduate, whom he met in Rochester, New York, where she was working as an anaesthetist. She predeceased him, dying in 2006. He leaves three sons, one a doctor, and three grandchildren. He died from metastatic prostatic carcinoma and faced the end with great courage and fortitude.

M J Williams

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List