Lives of the fellows

George Stewart Kilpatrick

b.26 June 1925 d.7 March 2013
OBE(1986) MB ChB Edin(1947) MRCP Edin(1952) MD(1954) FRCP Edin(1966) MRCP(1971) FRCP(1975)

Stewart Kilpatrick was David Davies professor of tuberculosis and chest diseases at Cardiff, and made a major contribution to medical education in Wales, the UK and in the developing world. He was born in Edinburgh, the son of Hugh Kilpatrick, a banker, and Annie Merricks Johnstone Kilpatrick née Stewart. After leaving George Watson Boys’ College, Stewart went to the medical school in Edinburgh, qualifying in 1947.

He then held junior appointments in Edinburgh, London and Cardiff. From Harold Scarborough’s [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.439] medical unit in Cardiff, he was appointed as a senior lecturer in tuberculosis and chest diseases to Archie Cochrane [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.95], to whose chair he succeeded in 1980.

For many years Stewart ran the diploma of tuberculosis and chest diseases at Cardiff, which attracted postgraduates from developing countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Many of those obtaining the diploma became eminent physicians and academics in their home countries, often visited by Stewart, who thereby retained the links necessary to attract students, as well as satisfying his passion for travel.

He was active in the International Union Against Tuberculosis, eventually chairing the treatment committee. He served on the research committee and on the council of the British Thoracic Association, of which he was vice-president from 1979 to 1980. His expertise in tuberculosis and in administration was utilised by the Medical Research Council on a number of occasions.

During the 1970s ‘GSK’, as he was known in Cardiff, was dean of the Welsh National School of Medicine (now Cardiff University Medical School) and went on to become chairman of the Provincial Deans of the UK and president of the Medical Deans of Europe.

Despite all his academic and international commitments, GSK did his bit as a clinician. He was a shrewd, meticulous, knowledgeable and hardworking consultant physician who was kind and considerate to his patients, and was respected and liked by his peers, junior colleagues and non-medical staff. His pace down the long corridors of Llandough Hospital was legendary, as he sped from ward to ward bristling with energy.

An inspiring, precise teacher in the lecture theatre and on ward rounds, he was popular with students and postgraduates alike. His contribution to medicine, in particular medical education, was recognised by the award of the OBE.

He was a polite, sociable man, who always seemed able to find a diplomatic and viable solution to any problem presented to him. He never forgot his Scottish roots and regularly holidayed in Scotland with Joan (née Askew), whom he had married in 1954 and who pre-deceased him in 2008. A cordon bleu cook, Joan was able to indulge his passion for good food to accompany his fine wines and malt whiskies. They were generous and charming hosts, and their dinner parties were always memorable experiences. He retired in 1990, but remained living in their modest house in Dinas Powis, enjoying retirement with more time to devote to photography and to travel.

Ian Campbell

[Brit.med.J., 2013 346 3013]

(Volume XII, page web)

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