Lives of the fellows

Edwin Keith MacLeod

b.24 December 1918 d.4 December 2006
MBChB NZ(1942) MRACP(1948) MRCP(1950) FRACP(1962) FRCP

Keith MacLeod died in Christchurch from lymphoma after a short illness on 4 December 2006. He was born in Christchurch in 1918 and spent his early years there. His father, Donald, an associate professor of physics at Canterbury University, was a fellow of the Royal Society (NZ); his mother Nellie was a biographer and poet. He was educated at Christchurch Boy’s High School and subsequently studied medicine at the Otago Medical School. After graduating in 1943 he found himself in Italy as a NZMC Captain in the 27th Battalion.

Following the war, having gained his MRACP, he attended the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London and decided to chose neurology as his vocation. He joined the University of Otago department of medicine in 1951 and served as a neurologist at Dunedin Hospital until his retirement in 1983.

He was a stimulating and affable colleague with major interests in epilepsy, aphasia, clinical method and brain modelling. Remarkably, he effortlessly bridged the gap between neurology and psychiatry and often surprised his colleagues with his in depth knowledge of mathematics, philosophy, literature and quantum mechanics.

In his retirement he continued to work every day on his theoretical speculations, centred on original ideas about the clinical method. He was a man of startling originality. He had a capacity to be open to irrationality but to use this capacity not to surrender to it. He was wildly imaginative but also sceptical.

Colleagues continued to visit him to discuss his latest ideas, including physicians Ian McDonald and Graeme Bydder. He never wrote the book he promised though he amassed a large body of notes and tape recordings which are in the keeping of his son, Sandy MacLeod, a psychiatrist.

He will be particularly remembered by many medical students as lecturer with impact who continually presented new angles on old problems and by numerous patients to whom he provided wise counsel over many years.

He is survived by his wife Barbara and his four children (Roderick, Jan, Sandy and Jonathan).

M Pollock

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

(Volume XII, page web)

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