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Biographical entry Korkis, Frederick Boyes (1913 - 1967)

MRCS and FRCS 1949; MB ChB 1937; FRCS Ed 1941.

21 December 1913
Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
ENT surgeon


Frederick Boyes Korkis was born in England at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, on 21 December, 1913, but on the death of his father was taken at an early age to live in New Zealand, and hence became known to many of his friends and associates as a New Zealander. He received his early education at King's College, Auckland, before entering Otago University Medical School, where he graduated MB ChB in 1937. The following year he came to England, where he trained under Lionel Colledge at the Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, Golden Square, and obtained his Edinburgh Fellowship in 1941 and the DLO in 1940. During this time he also met and worked with Scott Stevenson. He then returned to New Zealand where he joined the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force and served as otologist in Egypt, Palestine, and Italy, attaining the rank of Major.

After demobilization Korkis was appointed registrar to the Metropolitan Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital before returning to New Zealand to start practice as assistant ear, nose, and throat surgeon at the Auckland General and Green Lane Hospitals. He soon established a busy and successful practice, and it seems likely that he would have remained in New Zealand had it not been for his earlier association with Scott Stevenson, who encouraged his return to England when a vacancy occurred on the staff of the Metropolitan Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital. He was appointed shortly before the National Health Service was inaugurated in 1948, and he continued to serve the hospital until his death, although its identity was lost within a regional organization when amalgamated with St Mary Abbot's Hospital. Indeed, he was a most ardent and loyal supporter of the "Met ENT" and in his capacity as Dean never ceased to work and plan for its future, even though many considered that officially its death certificate had been signed. He took the FRCS in 1949, and became consultant ear, nose, and throat surgeon to a number of hospitals, including Whittington and Hillingdon, and was also appointed honorary otolaryngologist to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Royal Society of Musicians.

Fred Boyes Korkis was a man of exceptional ability with a wide range of interests, many of them outside surgery. As a surgeon he was quick, dexterous, and undaunted even by the most fearsome conditions, and his exceptional skill and remarkable sang-froid enabled him to impart great assurance and confidence to all within the operating-theatre. His surgical interests were wider than those often associated with his specialty, and embraced the "ear, nose, and throat" in its widest sense. The surgical treatment of malignant growths of the larynx and pharynx was a field in which he demonstrated remarkable skill. His performance of these intricate operations was admired and envied by the many visitors who came to watch him operate. But most of all he will be remembered for his kindness and consideration to all who sought his advice, and for the care and devotion so freely given to his patients.

The same exceptional talents were apparent in his other activities. Thus he showed the most remarkable ability to learn even the most complicated subjects with apparent ease. He never failed an examination for which he studied - his most recent achievement being in wireless telegraphy, in which he obtained the certificate of the City and Guilds radio amateur's examination, and at the time of his death was taking his morse code test. He taught himself photography and became an outstanding amateur photographer, using his talent to provide material to illustrate some of his books and articles. He was a prolific and lucid writer, publishing many papers on a wide variety of subjects, but he will be remembered more particularly for his book Ear, nose and throat nursing, published in 1955, and for his latest edition of Recent advances in otolaryngology, published in 1958, previously edited by Scott Stevenson.

Of recent years he became interested in sailing, and with characteristic enthusiasm set out to master the difficulties and to face the challenge of the sea. He bought himself a strong 47-foot boat fitted with two diesel engines, and became an enthusiastic member of the Rochester Cruising Club. He renovated much of the interior and the electrical wiring and maintained a safe sea-going craft. In company with a friend he was sailing near the Goodwin Sands when they collided with a large oil tanker and although Korkis was not injured he had to spend the night in an open dinghy and died of exposure before morning.

He was a happy family man who was extremely fond of his three children - two young daughters by his present wife, and an older daughter of a previous marriage. The family often sailed together and not long before his death his quickness and courage rescued one of them from drowning. They lived at Iver in a quiet house of character and elegance containing many obvious signs of his many interests, more particularly those of wireless and photography.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1967, 4, 424. Information from Dr G E Hale Enderby].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England