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Year : 1978  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 35



Correspondence Address:
M Mathew

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PMID: 367960

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How to cite this article:
Mathew M. Obituary. Indian J Ophthalmol 1978;26:35

How to cite this URL:
Mathew M. Obituary. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1978 [cited 2021 Mar 2];26:35. Available from: https://www.ijo.in/text.asp?1978/26/3/35/31197

Sir Stewart Duke-Elder, GCVO, MA, MD, Ph.D, FRCP, FRCS, FRS

In the sad demise of Sir Stewart Duke-Elder, the great ophthalmologist, the world has lost a profound scholar, a scientist, a genius, who had the opportunity of taking care of kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers without losing touch with the common man who was his prime concern all along.

Sir Stewart was born on 22nd April, 1896, at Jealing, near Dundee, with a rich legacy of Scottish background and started his journey through this world which came to an end on 27th March, 1978 at the age of 79. Truly he could say in all honesty "The time of my departure is at hand, I have fought a good fight, and I have finished my course".

No one can be an ophthalmologist without knowing Sir Stewart Duke-Elder through the monumental volumes of his collected wisdom, and knowledge.

He did his Bachelor of Science with Special distinction in Physiology and MA with first class honours in natural sciences. In 1923 he graduated MB,ChB. In 1924 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Not being satisfied with his achievements, he took MD from St. Andrews. For his thesis he was awarded a gold medal. He continued his pursuit of research and obtained a doctorate of science and a Ph.D (London).

On Physiology of the Eye which was his passion, Sir Stewart worked at the University College, London. Here he met Sir John Parsons, the great ophthalmologist, who exerted a deep influence on the young and enthusiastic scholar. The result was Sir Stewarts taking to Ophthal­mology as his career. In 1927 he began a private practice in London, the next year he married his life long partner, a gifted and very charming Sassenach.

From 1932-54 he was busy with the production of seven volumes of Text Books on Ophthalmology, a stupendous task for one man to achieve, even with the help of his colleagues or even with the help of a very talented wife. In 1958, he decided to bring the text books up to date and embarked on a still more ambitious work of 15 volumes of System of Ophthalmology the last of which was published in 1976.

Second World War took him to Middle East as he was a Consultant Surgeon to the Army. After the war sixteen univerisities honourd him with medals. He held the presidency of the Faculty of Ophthalmologists, which he founded; presidency of the Ophthalmological Society of the United Kingdom; honorary life presidency of the International Council of Ophthalmology; and the honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The creation of the Institute of Ophthalmology in London was mainly through his drive and initiative. For 17 years he was the Director of Research there and for the impetus he gave to research he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1960, a unique honour to a physician. His other abiding interest was the venerable order of St. John of Jerusalem. He was the prime architect of a magnificient hospital in Jerusalem.

The world of ophthalmologists is for ever indebted to the great personality, Sir Stewart, the man, the scholar, the genius, the like of whom we are unlikely to meet in the decades to come.


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