Lives of the fellows

Ronald Hugh Caughey

b.20 March 1918 d.5 September 1975
MB ChB Otago(1942) DCH Eng(1949) MRCP(1949) MD NZ(1957) FRACP(1964) FRCP(1973)

Ron Caughey died suddenly aged fifty-seven to end a life which had been dedicated to the service of others, both as a beloved and leading children’s physician and in his many community works.

He was a third generation New Zealander - his grandfather Andrew Caughey came from Portaferry, Northern Ireland, and his grandmother from Malmesbury, England.

He was educated at King’s College, Auckland, and graduated MB ChB from Otago Medical School in 1942. Following a brief period in the Army during the war, he joined a small band of house physicians who worked extremely hard with severe staff shortages at Auckland Hospital.

Overseas he gained the Diploma in Child Health and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians in 1949. Later he became a Fellow of this College. He worked mainly at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital Hackney Road and Great Ormond Street under Prof. Bellingham-Smith and Dr Richard Dobbs. He was awarded a Research Fellowship at the Children’s Hospital Philadelphia, USA, under Prof. Tom McNair Scott and worked with Dr Robert Kay. He also spent three months at the Sister Kenny Institute for poliomyelitis in Minneapolis.

In 1957 he graduated MD (NZ) with distinction. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians elected him as a Fellow in 1964 when he was invited to deliver the Montgomery Spencer Memorial Lecture.

For many years he examined for their College and more recently became their first Censor in Paediatrics. He was dedicated to raising the standard of teaching in children’s medicine and taught both medical students and nurses for many years. He also gave of his utmost to raise the place of child health to university level.

Overseas he was honoured to examine for the Royal College in London as well as the Royal Australasian College in Singapore, and he held the Heinz Fellowship of British Paediatics in 1971.

In Auckland he was the senior visiting children’s physician at the Princess Mary Hospital for Children where he was chairman of the Paediatric Staff. He was also senior physician for the Wilson Home for Crippled Children and St Helen’s Maternity Hospital. He was cofounder and first Medical President of the Cystic Fibrosis Society. As Chairman of the Harold Thomas Rotary Trust and Deputy Chairman of the National Children’s Health Research Foundation, Ronald Caughey promoted through Rotary a most successful financial appeal to establish a Chair of Research in Paediatrics at the University of Auckland.

Posts and activities outside medicine included twenty-two years’ service on the Board of Governors of the Diocesan School for Girls, of which he was Chairman of the Board for the last two and a half years. He was also a Vestry member, sidesman and reader at St Mark’s Church, Remuera; a member of Auckland Rotary and the Remuera Golf Club.

Ron met Catherine Harvey up a mountain in Switzerland in 1949. She was born in Kenya and spent her girlhood there. They were married at Oxford in 1950. Away from work Ron’s family came first in his life. With Christine and Martin they had a supremely happy home which they shared freely with friends and many overseas students.

He enjoyed many things: boating in his own constructed runabout, fishing, walking and playing tennis. He was an Otago University Blue. His favourite retreat was Lake Okareka, where with his own hands he designed and built a cottage, garden and jetty.

His widow and children received approximately one thousand letters of tribute from people of all walks of life, telling of his skill in diagnosis of children and appreciation of the hours which he devoted to the counselling of harassed parents, together with constant follow-up calls, never considering his own time so freely given. All admired his quiet, humble nature and total integrity in the cause of medicine.

Catherine Caughey

[New Zealand Herald, 8 Sept 1975; RACP Newsletter, Feb 1976]

(Volume VI, page 94)

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