Lives of the fellows

Alistair James Taylor

b.21 September 1923 d.25 August 2012
MB ChB Aberd(1944) MD(1957) FRCP(1976)

Alistair James Taylor, Director of Respiratory Services to the Otago Hospital Board from 1974 until his retirement in 1987, died in Motueka on 25th August 2012. Born in Scotland on 21st September, 1923, Alistair completed his undergraduate medical training in Aberdeen in 1944. He was awarded the Doctorate in Medicine with Commendation from the University of Aberdeen in 1957, whilst undertaking postgraduate training in respiratory medicine. He completed the MRCP in 1951 and was awarded his FRCP (London) in 1976.

After specialty training in Aberdeen, Southampton and at the Brompton Hospital in London, Alistair spent some time in the United States, working at the McCain Sanatorium, near Chapel Hill in North Carolina, before coming to Dunedin in 1960. On arrival, he quickly became involved with the life and function of the Tuberculosis Service, directing it from 1969 until his retirement. In the early 60's, this was a very busy clinical service, spread across three wards in the grounds of Wakari Hospital. While the success of the public campaign to isolate and control the disease saw the progressive reduction in this aspect of Alistair's work with active tuberculosis, he maintained close contact with patients whom he had cared for throughout their battle with the disease. The reduction in the TB workload also allowed him more time for his other clinical interests, particularly in the longer term sequelae of pulmonary embolic disease, and in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In 1974, when Professor Tom O'Donnell and Dr Peter Holst moved to Wellington, Alistair assumed responsibility as Director of Respiratory Services. He was admitted to Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1978.

Alistair is remembered as a concerned and dedicated physician, going above and beyond expectations for his patients; always looking for better options for care and clinical services. He particularly enjoyed the country clinics which served many TB patients whom he followed regularly, as well as providing local consultant service to family physicians.

In his teaching, Alistair is remembered by generations of medical students for his gentle and concerned manner with his patients, and the astute wisdom that he imparted to those who got to know him. He contributed equally to the post-graduate Medical Registrar training programme, and being a part of the Advanced Training FRACP programme in Respiratory Diseases brought one under his life-long, enduring influence.

Alongside his clinical duties with the Otago Hospital Board, Alistair was also Assistant Editor of the New Zealand Medical Journal for many years, and served on the Executive Committee of the Otago Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases Association.

In leisure, Alistair was a keen gardener, as well as a very proficient and enthusiastic golfer with an appropriately very low handicap. One of the authors well remembers the fear of instant dismissal after an incident in which an ICU bed head was inadvertently lowered, trapping Alistair's driver hand! In his retirement, Alistair extended his interests to croquet also.

Alastair is survived by his wife, Jean, and his family; Greg, Iain and Brenda, Judith and Graeme, Trish and Mike. He was immensely proud of his grandchildren, Andrew, Alistair, James and Laurence, Kris and Severin, Thomas, Jay, Jennie and Eva, and his great grandchildren Finlay, Riley, Ethan, and Mila.

[Reproduced, with permission, from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ College Roll]

(Volume XII, page web)

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