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Biographical entry Williams, Robert Edward Duncan (1927 - 2004)

MRCS and FRCS 1975; MB ChB Glasgow 1950; ChM 1964; MD 1965; FRCS Edinburgh 1958; LRCP 1975.

18 December 1927
Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland
26 August 2004
Urological surgeon


Bob Williams was a distinguished urological surgeon based in Leeds. He was born on 18 December 1927 in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, the son of Robert Williams, a steelworker, and Janet McNeil. He was educated at Dalziel High School, Motherwell, and Glasgow Medical School. After house jobs in Glasgow he did his National Service in the RAMC, serving as resident medical officer to the Northumberland Fusiliers in Hong Kong.

On his return, he received his general surgical training under Sir Charles Illingworth in Glasgow and John Goligher in Leeds, before deciding to specialise in urology, which in those days was emerging as a separate entity. He became senior registrar to Leslie Pyrah in Leeds, who had set up a pioneering stone clinic. There he carried out a painstaking and far-reaching study of the natural history of renal tract stone, which won him his MD. After this he went to work with Wyland Leadbetter at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, in 1964, where he carried out research on total body water and whole body potassium, which was to win him a commendation for his MCh thesis. On his return he was appointed to the consultant staff of the University of Leeds urological department in 1966.

He had many interests which were shown in his numerous publications, most notably on urinary calculi, bladder cancer and lymphadenectomy. He followed Leslie Pyrah in the energetic pursuit of the establishment of urology as a separate discipline in the British Isles, which won him the admiration and respect of his colleagues. Bob was president of the section of urology of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1989 and a very active member of BAUS, of which he was president from 1990 to 1992. He was awarded the St Peter’s medal of the Association in 1993. He examined for the Edinburgh and English Colleges, and was an invited member of Council of our College from 1989 to 1992.

In 1958 he married Lora Pratt, an Aberdeen graduate who was a GP and part-time anaesthetist. They had a son (Duncan) and two daughters (Bryony and Lesley), all of whom became doctors. A genial, cheerful and amusing colleague, Bob was struck down by renal failure caused by polycystic disease of the kidneys, but continued with great courage to work and publish and play an active part in BAUS, despite the need for regular dialysis. A renal transplant unfortunately underwent rejection, and he was, reluctantly, obliged to retire in 1991. He died on 26 August 2004.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Lora Williams.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England