Lives of the fellows

Owen Clarke

b.24 July 1915 d.20 September 1977
MRCS LRCP(1940) MB BChir Cantab(1941) MA(1947) MD(1950) MRCP(1952) FRCPC(1970) FRCP(1974)

Owen Clarke was educated at Sherborne School, Dorset, Clare College, Cambridge University, and the London Hospital. He graduated in medicine in 1940, immediately joining the Indian Medical Service and serving in SE Asia for five years. While there he met a Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Service nurse, Sister Kitty O’Leary, and they were married at Secunderabad in 1945.

On return to Britain he did resident hospital appointments at Papworth and the Brompton, and was later appointed a clinical assistant at the Brompton, an appointment he held until 1969. In 1948 he was appointed medical consultant to the Province of Ontario Immigration Medical Services in Britain. This was his first contact with Canada, working under the late Clair Brink. He visited Canada for the first time in 1949. He was responsible for the medical surveillance of thousands of prospective immigrants to Canada.

In 1950 he was appointed consultant chest physician to the South East Metropolitan Regional Hospitals Board. His headquarters were at the Canterbury Chest Clinic, where he looked after patients in the Isle of Thanet region of SE England. It was during this period that Owen Clarke’s tremendous qualities as a compassionate, deeply concerned and sympathetic physician became widely known and respected by his medical colleagues. Each one of his large number of patients, many of them with long-term distressing respiratory disease, loved him as ‘my doctor’.

Clarke was very active in local and national medical affairs, was a keen member of the British Tuberculosis Association, and was its honorary secretary for many years. He was an active member of the Canterbury Rotary Club.

In 1953 Owen Clarke was awarded the Canadian Fellowship of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis. He spent four months visiting Canada and the United States, where he made a great impression.

In 1967 he was invited by the former Canadian Tuberculosis Association — now the Canadian Lung Association — to visit Canada as a ‘Centennial Lecturer’ and to give a series of lectures across the continent, to commemorate 100 years of Canadian Confederation. With his wife Kitty, he travelled from coast to coast; together they made a great success of this tour, during which Clark made a major contribution to Canadian medicine through his clear, lucid and concise lectures.

Shortly after returning to Britain he was invited to head the chest unit at the new University Hospital in London, Ontario. So in 1969 he returned to Canada for the fourth time, and he and Kitty made their home in London. He was appointed associate professor of medicine, University of Western Ontario, and consulting physician to the Westminster Hospital.

Besides his university activities, he quickly became active in national affairs, was a member of the executive committees of both the Canadian Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Associations and the Canadian Thoracic Society. He was chairman of a national commitee on standards and classification of respiratory disease. He was an active member of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and the College of Chest Physicians and participated in their programmes in Africa, Asia and North and South America. He was consultant to the Canadian International Development Agency and advised on programmes in Africa and Asia, where his wide knowledge of medical affairs, and of providing health programmes relevant to the country, were invaluable.

He was survived by his loving wife Kitty in London, Ontario; his daughter Janet, a research scientist in Ottawa; son John, a business consultant in Saudi Arabia, and son Robert, an actor with the Royal Shakespeare and the Chichester Festival Theatres.

Owen Clarke was a dedicated physician, an international authority on health, and a loving husband and father.

CWL Jeanes

[Brit.med.J., 1977, 2, 1228]

(Volume VII, page 100)

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