John Arthur Stallworthy

John Arthur Stallworthy

1906-1993

John Arthur Stallworthy died at his home in Oxford, England, on November 19, 1993, at the age of 87 years. He was a New Zealander of English ancestry, being born on July 26, 1906. He attended Auckland Grammar School and the University of Auckland and Otago, graduating MB, ChB, in 1930. He was awarded a 2-year traveling fellowship that provided him an opportunity at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne and at the Postgraduate Hospital in London. After a stint under Victor Bonney at the Chelsea Hospital, London, he took an appointment in Oxford as first assistant to Professor Chassoir Moir, the first Nuffield Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Chassoir Moir asked John Stallworthy to set up the Oxford Flying Squadron at a time when there were many home deliveries. This service had a major impact in the Oxford region in reducing deaths in childbirth and may have incidentally generated a love for fine cars, as he pampered himself in later life with a series of Bentleys that greatly impressed visitors to his magnificent home in Oxford.

In 1940, John Stallworthy was invited to establish a second regional department of obstetrics and gynecology at Oxford, which eventually settled as the Churchill Hospital near Oxford in the buildings of an abandoned World War II general hospital. There he trained a series of young physicians as he extended the field of surgical treatment for infertility and cancer. John Stallworthy was a man of integrity and emphasized patient care. He was an uncompromising leader who after intimidating always won the loyalty and affection of his staff and colleagues.

As part of teaching and training, he developed medical audit, perhaps a leftover from his early interest and indeed training in law. There were periodic "tea parties" where problem patients were discussed as a learning experience.

In 1967, John Stallworthy was invited to become the Nuffield Chairman in succession to Chassoir Moir and thereby combine the Nuffield Department and the regional department of obstetrics and gynecology. The new John Radcliffe Maternity Hospital was planned with facilities to care for the large number of births in the region, as well as incorporating the academic unit.

In the year preceding his retirement from the Nuffield Chair, he was knighted and in a way started a new career by being elected president of the Royal Society of Medicine. He applied himself to a major fund-raising campaign for the Royal Society, and the magnificent new Royal Society of Medicine is a fine memorial to his efforts.

In 1975, he received the honorary degrees of doctor of science from the University of Leeds and his home University of Otago. He was a member of the Gynaecological Visiting Society of Great Britain, as well as the American Society of Pelvic Surgeons and, of course, of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society.

John Stallworthy's dynamic life was made possible through the support and dedication of his wife, Peggy, who was prepared at a moment's notice for him not to turn up for dinner or to turn up for dinner with an unexpected number of visitors. She always coped.

Submitted by Howard Jones, Jr.

Return to In Memoriam