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Biographical entry Watson, Wallace Robert (1939 - 1985)

MRCS and FRCS 1968; MB BS Melbourne 1963; FRCS Ed 1967; FRACS 1983.

29 September 1939
Melbourne, Australia
11 January 1985
King Island
ENT surgeon


Wallace Robert Watson was born in Melbourne on 29 September 1939 the son of Heyworth Alexander Wigglesworth Watson FRCS (Lives of the Fellows 1974-1982 p.407), an ear, nose and throat surgeon. His family originated from Montrose and two great-great-uncles had been awarded gold medals in the Edinburgh MD. One of them, Professor Morrison Watson FRS later became Professor of Anatomy in Manchester.

His early education was at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School where he became school prefect, captain of boats, stroke of the first VIII and winner of a Commonwealth scholarship to Melbourne University, which he entered in 1958. He qualified in 1963 and spent his intern year at Footscray Hospital where he met his future wife Elizabeth Burgin, whom he married on 12 June 1966. There were three sons of the marriage, James, Cameron and Lachlan.

He spent a further year at Prince Henry's Hospital before leaving for three years postgraduate study in Britain, working in the ear, nose and throat departments of the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. He passed the FRCS Edinburgh in 1967 and the FRCS in the following year being successful at the first attempt at both examinations.

Returning to Australia in 1969 he joined his father's ear, nose and throat practice in Melbourne and was appointed assistant otolaryngologist at Prince Henry's Hospital, a post once held by his father, and also ear, nose and throat surgeon to the Queen Victoria Medical Centre where he had total responsibility for the service which included a large paediatric ENT commitment. He served as honorary secretary to the senior medical staff of the hospital and his achievements were rewarded by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1983.

In addition to his professional commitment he loved the outdoors and in his spare time managed to develop a large farm on King Island off Tasmania. He was a keen shot, a patient angler and a very professional yachtsman. Tragically he died in a sailing accident at King Island on 11 January 1985 aged 45 when a catamaran capsized. He is survived by his wife and three sons.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1985, 143, 310; Melburnia Club Newsletter February 1985; The King Island News 16 January 1985].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England