Lives of the fellows

John Anthony Parrish

b.13 July 1927 d.12 October 2014
MRCS LRCP(1951) MB BS Lond(1951) MRCP(1957) MD(1964) FRCP(1973)

John Anthony Parrish (known as ‘Tony’) was a consultant physician in Croydon. He was born in Tadworth, Surrey, where his father, John, was the local GP. His mother was Ethel Maude Parrish née Whitehead. He was educated at Lancing College, where he was captain of the school cricket. At the end of the war, Tony gave up his dream of joining the RAF and decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor. After a year of learning the basic sciences, he went to St Bartholomew’s Medical School in London.

He qualified in 1951 and was a house physician at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Gordon Hospital. He then joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served in the Middle East, between 1952 and 1954. After returning to the United Kingdom, he became a house physician in Farnborough, Kent. This was followed by three months in general practice in Surrey before he became a senior house officer at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in June 1955. He then worked as a research registrar for two years before becoming a registrar and then a senior registrar between 1958 and 1961 at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. In July 1961 Tony went to Ann Arbor in the USA for a year as a research fellow in gastroenterology. His work was primarily on the pathological changes in villi of the bowel.

On returning to the UK, he worked as a senior registrar at Chase Farm Hospital and then for two years as a casualty physician at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. In October 1965, Tony was appointed as a consultant physician to the Croydon Group of Hospitals, mainly working at Mayday, now Croydon University Hospital, and Croydon General Hospital. At this time he was also an honorary clinical assistant at St Mark’s Hospital and an honorary consultant physician at both St Anthony’s Hospital, Cheam, and St Teresa’s Hospital, Wimbledon. Tony also had an academic interest in life assurance and was the medical officer for Crown Life for many years. He was an active member of the Croydon Medical society.

He published a series of papers during his career, and was the co-author (with Richard Douglas Tonkin [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web]) of Lecture notes on gastroenterology (Oxford, Blackwell Scientific, 1968).

Tony married Elizabeth (known as ‘EJ’) Corlett, the younger sister of his best friend, in August 1958. They went on to have a son, John Richard, and then two daughters, Jane Mary and Jennifer Ann. Every Christmas morning, his three children would accompany Tony and his wife as they went around all the medical wards at Mayday and Croydon General, shaking the patients’ hands. Holidays were an important part of Tony’s family life. Every summer the family would travel to the Mediterranean and every Easter they would visit some cottages in Dartmouth, which were owned by Tony’s Aunty Kathy. There was a band of friends who grew so large that all the cottages were taken over.

Tony and EJ were famous for hosting parties at their house. The immaculate garden would be the venue for fun and games with the cousins, Corletts and Sandercocks. On other occasions, for the adults, days of cooking and cleaning would lead to a few wild hours of partying, drinking and swimming in the pool, with or without suitable attire. Tony had one of the best stocked drink cabinets with every variety of spirit and liquor from around the world, which he shared with pleasure.

Tony enjoyed playing sport throughout his life. He played cricket regularly at Croydon hospital events. He was also a keen golfer.

Tony and EJ were married for over 40 years until EJ’s death in 2001. Tony was lucky enough to find love and companionship with Joan Kiteley and they married the following year. They had many happy years together and travelled widely.

Tony went into Walton Heath Manor, a residential care home, in the early summer in 2014, as a result of metastatic carcinoma of the prostate. He was well enough to practise his putting in the back garden, but over his last few months there was a steady decline in his physical well-being. He was survived by his three children, Joan, his second wife, and seven grandchildren. He was very proud of all of them, and he would tell his fellow residents about their various antics and achievements.

Tony was a doctor of a bygone age. He was a hospital physician who was a generalist and that role has now gone as hospital doctors get more and more specialised. He was also a doctor who would medically care for and treat family and friends, but this is no longer allowed. He was kindly and attentive, and these attributes remain as important as ever. Tony’s medical legacy continues not just through his son, but also through two of his grandchildren, Andrew and Philly.

John Parrish

[BMJ 2014 349 6858 – accessed 30 September 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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