Lives of the fellows

Stanley Jack Marcus Goulston

b.26 July 1915 d.20 August 2011
AO(1987) MB BS Sydney(1939) FRCP(1964) MD(1983) MPhil(2004) FRACP

Stanley Jack Marcus (‘Stan’) Goulston was an eminent Australian gastroenterologist who became president of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Born in Glebe, Sydney, he was the youngest of the four children of John Goulston, a company director, and his wife Flora née Wolff, whose father, Sol, was a grazier. His mother died three weeks after his birth and his father later remarried and had two more children. His two brothers also became medically qualified, Eric became a surgeon and Roy, a GP. After attending Sydney Grammar School he studied medicine at Sydney University and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH).

He graduated in 1939 and did house jobs at the Prince Alfred before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force the following year and becoming regimental medical officer to the First Pioneer Battalion. After the battalion served in Palestine and Egypt, they were sent to Libya. Following the eight-month siege of Tobruk in 1941, Gouston described his regimental aid post as a cave under a very old fig tree near an ancient Jewish cemetery and he wrote of the experience that ‘the enemies were Germans, flies, fleas, heat and dust storms’. He was very proud of his ‘Tobruk rat’ medal which had been made by the men of his battalion from scraps of metal. Returning to Australia in 1942, he spent 14 months in Darwin before being posted as a senior medical office to the army staff in London from 1944 to 1946. Mentioned in despatches, he was awarded the Military Cross for his service in the Middle East.

On demobilisation he worked for a time at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London where he was senior medical registrar to Sheila Sherlock [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.514]. On his return to Australia in 1947, he went back to the RPAH as honorary assistant physician, becoming honorary physician in 1960, and also started a consultant practice as a gastroenterologist and general physician. Taking an active part in teaching and lecturing medical students, he also consulted at Ryde Hospital from 1950 onwards. With Sir William Morrow [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.413] he set up the first specialist gastroenterology unit in Australia at the RPAH in 1958. The unit was unique at the time in the way it encouraged collaboration on recovery programmes between the surgeons and other practitioners.

He worked at the RPAH for 33 years and retired in 1980, continuing his clinical practice until he was 79. He published 34 scientific papers, some on gastroenterological topics and others on medical education - he was acknowledged to be an inspirational teacher. With V J McGovern he wrote Fundamentals of colitis (Oxford;New York, Pergamon Press, 1981). On the federal council of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, he was also an examiner for many years and president from 1974 to 1976. Active in the foundation of the Gastroenterology Society of Australia in 1959, he became their first honorary secretary and was president from 1963 to 1965. For 15 years he served on the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee and was its chairman from 1976 to 1982.

After he retired from his clinical practice in 1994, he returned to the University of Sydney to study poetry and literature in relation to patient care and was awarded a master’s degree in philosophy two years later. Throughout his life he wrote poetry; his first poem was a love poem to his future wife written when he was 17 and one of his last was entitled Life continues after ninety. His book Poetry for pleasure (Sydney, ETT Imprint) was published in 2007. He used examples from his voracious reading to illustrate a highly popular course he ran for medical students called ‘Literature as a catalyst in medical education’ and, feeling that his medical colleagues could also benefit, he ran a poetry reading as part of a grand round at the RPAH. One of his colleagues who attended commented that, at first, ‘the discussion was subdued, emotions have little place in ordinary medical meetings’ but that Goulston’s enthusiasm was such that he was asked frequently to return and she recalled, ‘he has convinced many of the value of poetry in medicine’.

At Sydney University he was in the hockey team and gained a blue. Later he enjoyed tennis and fishing.

In 1940 he married Jean Helen née Danglow whose father, Jacob, was a distinguished Rabbi. They had four daughters, Diana, Wendy, Sadhana and Sue (now Mrs Hallenstein). Jean predeceased him in 2005 and he was survived by their children, ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

RCP editor

[Sydney University http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/museum/mwmuseum/index.php/Goulston,_Stanley; Sydney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/a-doctor-a-poet-and-many-other-roles-20111006-1lbk9.html – both accessed 28 October 2011]

(Volume XII , page web)

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