Lives of the fellows

Ralph George Park

b.15 December 1911 d.9 July 2008
MB ChB NZ(1935) MD NZ(1945) MRCP(1940) MRACP(1950)FRACP(1965) FRCP(1966) MACD(1967)

Ralph George Park was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1922. His father, George John Park, was principal of Seddon Technical College in Auckland. His mother, Mabel Glen Porter, was a music teacher. Ralph received his secondary education at Auckland Grammar School.

After graduating MB ChB in 1935 Ralph spent an intern year at Dunedin Hospital and then travelled as ship’s surgeon to London. He visited the London Postgraduate Medical School and while inspecting wards met a physician who was looking for a locum and soon he was on the staff. Later he worked for Paul Wood [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.456], a noted cardiologist.

In 1940 Ralph married Elizabeth (Betty) Oakley, a nursing sister. Elizabeth was the daughter of a police superintendant. They had one son, John.

Ralph studied for his membership of the RCP London and took every opportunity to further his interest in dermatology by attending all the skin clinics available. He attained this membership in 1940 and later that year joined the New Zealand Medical Corps as captain and was transferred to Egypt. Meanwhile Betty returned to the family home at Walton on Thames. After two years she joined Ralph in Egypt but, because of ill health, later returned to his family in Auckland. Ralph was promoted to lieutenant colonel and made officer in charge of the medical division of the First NZ General Hospital (1 NZGH). He also served for a time in Crete. After two years 1 NZGH was transferred from Egypt to Italy where Ralph passed his MD with a thesis on sulphonamide allergy.

In 1945 Ralph returned to Wellington and was appointed to the staff of Wellington Hospital as visiting dermatologist. In 1959 he passed his MRACP examination. He was elected FRACP in 1965 and FRCP London in 1966. He was president of the Australasian College of Dermatologists from 1971 to 1973 and retired from the Wellington Hospital in 1976. Later he and Betty moved to Parklands in Waikanae and Ralph continued dermatology consultations from 1988 to 1999.

Besides dermatology, Ralph had a strong literary interest from an early age. At Otago University he edited the student newspaper The Critic and was a vibrant contributor to The Capping Magazine and Capping Concerts. For two years he produced ‘Parking Meters’ for the NZ Listener, light sardonic and topical verses with an innocent humour. He also wrote a witty life history entitled Historical Outburst and a Thesaurus of Allusions, like Roget's, but instead of synonymous words and phrases, examples from literature, folklore and history of the subject were listed. His distinguished, colourful, and always modest achievements ended with his death on July 9th, 2008.

J D McCreanor

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

(Volume XII, page web)

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