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Biographical entry Whitaker, John Grieve (1895 - 1967)

MRCS and FRCS 1922; MB BS Melbourne 1917; MD 1919; MS 1920; LRCP 1922; FRACS 1935.

24 March 1895
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
15 April 1967
Croydon, Victoria, Australia
Paediatric surgeon


John Grieve Whitaker was born in 1895, the son of a doctor who qualified in Belfast, and his mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Grieve, was of Scottish descent. His father died when John was eight years old, and the family then moved to Canterbury, a suburb of Melbourne, where he was educated at the Canterbury Grammar School. In order to complete his premedical course in physics and chemistry he transferred to Scotch College, Melbourne, where he gained honours in these two subjects and the Morrison Memorial Prize in chemistry.

Whitaker's academic record at the University of Melbourne was outstanding and he graduated MB BS in 1917, and proceeded to the degrees of MD in 1919 and MS in 1920. He served as a Captain in the AAMC in 1918.

He came to England and obtained the FRCS in 1922, and on his return to Melbourne he spent time in general practice but in 1925 was appointed honorary surgeon to out-patients at St Vincent's Hospital, and then became honorary surgeon to out-patients at the Children's Hospital. As he was not allowed to hold both these appointments he abandoned the St Vincent's post because his chief interest lay in paediatric surgery to which he devoted the rest of his professional career, retiring from the Children's Hospital in 1955. He was elected FRACS in 1935.

Whitaker won a great reputation for his contributions to paediatric surgery, and was esteemed as a highly valued colleague and teacher. His cheerful disposition won him the nick-name of "Happy Jack". In his leisure time he enjoyed following international and interstate cricket, and in the winter he was an ardent supporter of the Melbourne Football Club.

John Whitaker was twice married. His first wife Alison Waters, by whom he had a daughter and a son, died young, and he then married Ruth Wood with whom he lived very happily for his last 25 years. He died suddenly on 15 April 1967 and was survived by his widow, his daughter who was a physiotherapist and his son who followed in his father's footsteps to the surgical staff of the Royal Children's Hospital.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1967, 2, 570].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England