Lives of the fellows

Edward Miller Buzzard

b.13 March 1909 d.9 March 1976
BA Oxon(1930) MRCS LRCP(1934) BM BCh(1935) MRCP(1937) FRCP(1949) MA(1960)

Edward Buzzard was born at 76 Wimpole Street the residence of his father E Farquhar Buzzard, FRCP, later Sir E Farquhar Buzzard, Bart, regius professor of medicine at Oxford. His mother before marriage was May Bliss, daughter of Edward Bliss, of Edgbaston. His elder brother, Anthony, had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy and retired as a rear admiral. One of his sisters married Harold Gardiner-Hill, FRCP (q.v.) physician to St Thomas’s Hospital.

Buzzard, always known to his family and friends as Teddy, was, like his father, educated at Charterhouse School, Magdalen College, Oxford, and St Thomas’s Hospital, where he was house physician to Sir Henry Tidy and registrar to Sir Maurice Cassidy. He also worked at the Brompton Hospital.

At the time of the Abyssinian crisis in 1935 his strong sense of duty made him join the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. In 1937 he married Sylvia Fordham, daughter of Dr JW Fordham of Leicester. They had three daughters and one son.

Teddy’s career was interrupted by service in the RNVR throughout the war from 1939 to 1945, in Africa and Ceylon, with the rank of surgeon lieutenant commander. After the war he was appointed a supernumerary registrar at the Radcliffe Infirmary, and two years later was elected to the honorary staff. His main life’s work was spent in the service of the Oxford hospitals, where he gave meticulous and sympathetic care to all patients, whether in hospital or private practice. He examined at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London, and for the Conjoint and Membership examinations of the College. He was appointed a lecturer in medicine at Oxford in 1957.

Teddy Buzzard was a tall, good-looking man with great charm, in the best sense of the word. He was one of the last of the general physicians, with a wide and deep knowledge of medicine. He had a special interest in respiratory diseases. Everybody liked him; no one could quarrel with him. Lord Richardson, an old friend, wrote of him: ‘His lifelong response to his wonderful endowments of body and mind was to show to all consideration, which derived from his innate modesty. Although he seemed to be personally detached from the failings, and most of the weaknesses, of us all, he understood them and was always kindly about them. His company was restful, his standards strengthening, and his courage inspiring. In him was greatness.’

Apart from his professional work, Teddy showed remarkable versatility. A natural athlete and ball-games player - a Buzzard family trait - he represented his university at lawn tennis and squash rackets. Such was his skill, character and prestige that he was selected at the age of 20 to captain the combined Oxford and Cambridge lawn tennis team that visited the United States of America in 1929. He played in the Wimbledon tournament for several years and succeeded in defeating one or two well known players.

Although he came from a school that favoured the association game, he captained St Thomas’s at rugby. He was also an ardent naturalist and ornithologist. His cottage in Cornwall was a great joy, where he indulged in what he called ‘gentle beachcombing’. Despite his many accomplishments and a large circle of admiring friends, he remained totally unspoilt. He retired in 1974 and went to live at Frilford Heath, a few miles outside Oxford. His last years were clouded by a long and distressing illness, which he bore with characteristic fortitude.

AM Cooke

[Brit.med.J., 1976, 2, 904, 1023, 1225; Lancet, 1976, 1, 819]

(Volume VII, page 75)

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