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Biographical entry Jose, Sir Ivan Bede (1893 - 1969)

Kt 1963; MC 1917; FRCS 1922; MB BS Adelaide 1915; MS 1923; FRCS Ed 1922; FRACS 1929.

13 February 1893
23 November 1969
General surgeon and Urological surgeon


Ivan Jose was born on 13 February 1893 in China where his father was an Anglican missionary. When he was ten years old the family moved to Adelaide, South Australia, where his father became first the Rector of Christ Church, North Adelaide, and later Dean of the Adelaide diocese. Ivan had two younger brothers, and all three of them were imbued from their childhood with a spirit of service, inherited no doubt from their father. Wilfred, the second son was killed in action in France in 1917, and Gilbert, the youngest, who qualified in medicine, served in the Australian Army Medical Corps in the second world war and died as a prisoner-of-war.

Ivan went to school in Adelaide, first at Queen's School and then at St Peter's College, for which he had a lasting affection. At the outbreak of the first world war he was within a year of the final MB, but at once enlisted as a private in the AAMC. However, after two months in camp he was sent back to qualify, which he did in August 1915 and then rejoined the Medical Corps as a Captain. He served for a short time on the Suez Canal and then joined the 14th Field Ambulance in France, rose to the rank of Major, and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917.

Directly after the war he concentrated on surgical training, and in 1922 he obtained the Fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and of England; the MS of Adelaide in 1923; and the Australasian Fellowship in 1929. He was appointed assistant surgeon to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1924, and served as surgeon to inpatients from 1930 till obligatory retirement in 1950, under the 20 year rule, after which he acted as honorary consulting surgeon. He was a general surgeon with a special interest in urology, but his outstanding contribution was to teaching, in which he excelled at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. He was made the first Director of Surgical Studies in the Medical School in 1936, and proved to be not only an inspiring leader, but also a capable administrator, introducing many improvements in the organization of surgical teaching in the school. He also served on the Council of the University of Adelaide from 1954 till 1966.

He never looked for praise or renown, and his quiet almost shy manner masked an underlying resolution and determination which, usually by peaceful persuasion, gained his point and carried the day. It was therefore inevitable that he should be in demand for service on many medical bodies - President of the South Australian Branch of the BMA in 1954; on the Council of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from 1945 to 1957 and President for the final two years of that period; Chairman of the South Australian Division of the Australian Red Cross Society and a member of the National Council, to which he made a distinguished contribution; President of the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine, which involved coordination of interstate activities, and links with similar bodies overseas; a vigorous part in hospital building in Adelaide, both the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and St Andrew's Presbyterian Private Hospital; and he also assisted greatly in the development of the Blood Transfusion Service.

It might be supposed that these "public" duties might have interfered with his own practice of surgery, but this was not so, and there were countless patients who were reassured by his own quiet confidence as well as profiting from his surgical skill. Furthermore, he managed to find time for relaxation on the golf course, though as a younger man he had done well at cricket and tennis, and latterly he derived great pleasure and satisfaction from converting an area of scrub land to the south east of Adelaide into first-class grazing property.

In May 1919 he married Imogen Hawkes who throughout his career gave him tremendous encouragement and support, whether on so many happy occasions when she played her part as a most charming hostess, or during the grim long months of his final illness which he bore with characteristic fortitude. They shared the delight of the richly deserved honour of his knighthood in 1963, and of their golden wedding which gave them great joy. They had three children, of whom the youngest, John, is following in his father's footsteps as an urological surgeon.

Ivan Jose died at the age of 76 on 23 November, 1969, leaving behind him a magnificent record of service to his country, his profession, his University, his College, and his fellow men.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1970, 1, 912;Ann Roy Coll Surg Engl 1970, 1970, 46, 237].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England