Lives of the fellows

Joseph Bryan Ryder

b.13 April 1921 d.9 August 2011
MB BCh BAO Dubl(1944) MRCPI(1946) MD(1948) MRCP(1951) Certif Internal Med RCPS Canada(1955) FRCPI(1969) FRCP(1972)

Joseph Bryan (Joe) Ryder was a consultant physician at Hexham General Hospital. Born in Dublin, he was the son of Victor Ryder, a hardware merchant, and his wife, Lily Mabel née Bryan, whose father , Joseph, was an estate manager. Educated at St Andrew’s College, Dublin, he studied medicine at Dublin University and the Adelaide Hospital.

After qualifying in 1944, he did house jobs at Kidderminster General Hospital and the South Shields General Hospital. In 1947 he enlisted as a medical specialist in the RAMC and served for a year before returning to South Shields as a medical registrar. In 1950 he moved to Hexham General Hospital as a senior registrar and, following that post in 1953, joined the staff of Poole Hospital in Middlesbrough.

He emigrated to Canada with his young family on the ship Empress of Britain in 1954 and took a post as chest physician to the Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton, Ontario. The hospital specialised in the treatment of tuberculosis and particularly served the Eskimo population of Hudson Bay. While there he treated the young son of the chief of the Mohawk clan of the Iroquois tribe in the Six Nations Reserve who was suffering from deadly tuberculous meningitis. The grateful father made him an honorary member of the clan complete with ritual cut-to-cut “blood brother” handshake and he was given the Iroquois name of “Kaia Ora,” meaning “Great White Doctor.”

Three years later in 1957, he returned to the UK and rejoined the staff of Hexham General as an assistant physician in geriatrics and remained in that post from 1957 to 1963 when he was appointed a consultant. In 1968 he also became clinical tutor to the Hexham group of hospitals.

The author of several papers on the therapy and outcomes of tuberculosis, he also wrote about the problems of the elderly and was a longstanding chairman of the Hexham Old People’s Welfare Committee. He also established the first branch of the Abbeyfield Society (a national charity providing housing with care to older people) in the area. Alongside his busy career he and his wife found time to run a successful fund-raising campaign which provided Hexham with its first ultrasound scanner. They also set up the local branch of Macmillan Cancer Support.

A member of Hexham Round Table from 1953 to 1961, he was also a dedicated member of the Rotary Club of Hexham, serving for 46 years and club president from 1974 to 1975. Eventually he was made an honorary life member and he was awarded Rotary’s highest honour, a Paul Harris Fellowship. A religious man, he took part in the activities at his local church, the Trinity Methodist Church.

A keen sportsman, it was said that in his youth he had kayaked down the Tyne and, fond of motor racing, had once driven a rally car. He enjoyed playing tennis and badminton, and was a member of Tynedale Tennis Club where he had been known to sweep the snow off the courts so he could play a couple of sets. He continued playing until he was 79. A rugby fan, his dream that Ireland would win the Grand Slam was realised, to his great delight, in 2009.

In 1947 he married Margaret née Richardson whose father, George, was a shipyard worker. She was a nurse whom he met while doing his training at South Shields Hospital. They had three children, Stephen, Adrian and Val. Fortunately he very much enjoyed travelling and, as both his sons settled in New Zealand, he and Margaret visited them some 14 times over the years. When he died he was survived by Margaret, their children, four grand-children, and seven great-grandchildren.

RCP editor

[News and Star www.newsandstar.co.uk/great-white-doctor-leaves-lasting-legacy-1.870270; Hexham Courant www.myfamilyannouncements.co.uk/hexhamcourant/view/345203/ryder-joseph-bryan - both accessed 16 September 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List