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Biographical entry Magarey, Sir James Rupert (1914 - 1990)

Kt 1980; MRCS and FRCS 1949; MB BS Adelaide 1938; MS 1951; FRACS 1950; Hon FRACGP 1978.

21 February 1914
13 October 1990
General surgeon


James Rupert Magarey was born in Adelaide on 21 February 1914, the son of Elsie Magarey, née Cowell, and Dr R E Magarey who was honorary gynaecologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and was President of the South Australia Branch of the British Medical Association from 1937 to 1938. His early education was at Scotch College and St Peter's College before entering the University of Adelaide for his medical studies. During his student years he represented Adelaide University Boat Club in the Australian Intervarsity Boat Race on four occasions; he was awarded a rowing blue and was captain of the boat club from 1936 to 1937. He qualified in 1938 and his early posts were as resident medical officer and out-patient registrar at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. At the outbreak of war he joined the Citizen Military Forces and in 1940 transferred to the Australian Imperial Force, seeing active service in the Syrian campaign in 1941 when he was mentioned in despatches and later serving in New Guinea. He was mentioned in several published accounts of the war and remained in the Reserve of Officers until 1969 when he retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel having served for seven years as consultant surgeon for Central Command Forces.

After demobilisation in 1946 he was part-time demonstrator in anatomy and honorary clinical assistant to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He passed the FRCS in 1949 and the FRACS in the following year, when he was appointed honorary assistant surgeon to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He was awarded the Master of Surgery degree in 1951 and in 1959 was appointed honorary surgeon to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide. He continued to serve at two major teaching hospitals and was a member of many important university and hospital committees until his retirement in 1979. He was on the Court of Examiners of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and was a member of the South Australian State Committee of the College from 1959 to 1968, serving as Chairman from 1964 to 1966. He followed in his father's footsteps when he was elected President of the South Australian State Branch of the Australian Medical Association from 1969 to 1970. He joined the Federal Council of the Association in 1970 and after serving as Federal Vice-President from 1973 to 1976 was elected Federal President of the Australian Medical Association from 1976 to 1979.

Throughout his life he showed great concern for his patients and the students and post-graduate trainees under his supervision. He was a strong advocate of the role of the general practitioner and was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in 1978. Two years later his services to his profession were recognised by the award of a knighthood in the Imperial Honours.

On 3 April 1940 he married Mary Gilbert and there were three daughters and one son of the marriage. His wife died in 1989 and he died on 13 October 1990, aged 76. He was survived by two of his daughters, Susan and Mary, and his son James who graduated in medicine from Monash University, Melbourne, in 1971.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1991, 154, 776].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England