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Biographical entry Holmes, Alan Boyd (1926 - 2013)

MB BS Sydney 1950; FRCS 1956; FRACS

25 August 1926
13 December 2013


Alan Boyd Holmes was a giant of surgical practice in Tasmania and a pioneer of urology in the state.

He died on 13 December 2013, at the age of 87. Three weeks earlier he was snorkelling with his family in Queensland.

Alan grew up in Sydney, where he was dux of Artarmon opportunity school, and then attended North Sydney High, where he was equal top matriculant in NSW. He graduated from Sydney University in 1950, and did his initial post graduate training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where he became a life-long friend of another urology pioneer, Bruce Pearson.

After a brief stint in general practice in Brisbane, he completed his surgical training in Launceston, Tasmania, where he obtained his FRACS, before working in the UK at Guy's Hospital, where he obtained his FRCS. In 1956 he worked as the Urology Registrar at Preston Hospital, where he developed an interest in pursuing urology as his main specialty. He and wife Wilga then returned to Launceston, where he worked as a VMO at Launceston General Hospital, and established a general surgical and urological private practice.

Alan was always keen to keep abreast of the latest developments in urology, and spent much of 1962 travelling through the US, where he visited a number of units and worked with some of the doyens of urology, including Whitmore and Leadbetter.

In 1964 he took up the position as the first full time urologist in Tasmania at The Royal Hobart Hospital, and remained the only urologist serving a population of about a quarter of a million people for the next 15 years. He thrived on work, and gained a reputation as a shrewd physician and a superb technician. He eventually retired from The Royal Hobart Hospital in 1991, but only because the rules at the time dictated retiring from the public system at the age of 65. He continued in active private practice until his retirement at the age of 75.

Alan was active in the Urological Society and well known for years as the person to beat in the annual Society tennis tournament. He was also a keen skier and Life Member of Rotary International.

On a personal note, he was one of my mentors as a junior resident, and again as a consultant urologist, and contributed significantly to my own decision to follow a career choice of urological surgery.

He is survived by Wilga and children Tony, Phillip and Neroli.

Ian Middleton

Sources used to compile this entry: [Republished by kind permission of the President and Council of The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from In Memoriam (].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England