Lives of the fellows

Charles Douglas Anderson

b.5 October 1913 d.5 February 1998
MC(1942) BA Cantab(1934) MB BChir Cantab(1937)

Charles Douglas Anderson was a consultant physician in Glasgow. He was appointed to the Western Infirmary in 1950, and later had charge of wards at Knightswood Hospital, holding both appointments until his retirement in 1978.

His students, often penetrating observers, would address kindly quotes to him in their year books. In 1974 they found for him a comment by Mark Twain, 'He liked to like people, therefore, people liked him'. In 1976 they quoted roughly from Julius Caesar, 'Yon Charlie hath a lean and hungry look', noting that Anderson was tall and gaunt and very spare in his general build. For 1977 they used the words of an old Jacobite song, 'Charlie is my darling'. They were consistently expressing admiration for a fine teacher, recognising the services that he brought to their education.

A succession of house physicians in the Western Infirmary of Glasgow would also pay homage to a consultant who maintained the highest standards of medicine in his management of patients and their families.

During his time at the Infirmary there were few who knew of his war record and that he had been awarded the Military Cross for bravery for the care of casualties in the tank battles that raged across North Africa during 1942. Characteristically, he did not mention or discuss these events very often. Possibly, in the light of the Christian life that he led, warfare was anathema to him. But, just as in his medical career, service was always the over-riding consideration.

Observing Charlie Anderson from the position of student, house physician, registrar and later consultant colleague, one was always impressed by the calm demeanour, the constant courtesy and charm, and the willingness ‘to go the extra mile’. In a later established friendship other dimensions were introduced, including his Puckish sense of humour, the sincerity of purpose, the willingness to help and his interest in golf. Lack of proficiency was no barrier to enjoyment of this frustrating game in the few leisure hours that were permitted.

Later in life he was to introduce younger colleagues to the proprieties and formalities of private consulting. Just a few contacts with this quiet man and his thoughts were a furtherance of education.

It became evident, early in our acquaintance, that Charlie Anderson had a deeply placed Christian conviction. The strength of his faith and belief was enviable, and in later years, when active medical practice was over, he devoted time, energy and effort to a Baptist Church in a rough edged suburb of Glasgow. Almost single-handedly he nurtured this church. The expressions of love and appreciation in the orations at his funeral were powerful testimony to the place he had forged in the hearts of the congregation.

Ian D Melville

[Brit.med.J.,1998,316,1832;The Daily Telegraph 4 May 1998]

(Volume XI, page 13)

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