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Biographical entry Walker, Frank Couper (1925 - 1992)

MRCS and FRCS 1955; MB ChB Glasgow 1952; ChM 1960; MD 1969; FRCS Edinburgh 1955.

21 May 1925
1 May 1992
General surgeon


Frank Couper Walker was born on 21 May 1925. He qualified at Glasgow Medical School with honours in 1952. His undergraduate career was marked by numerous prizes and certificates of merit awarded in every subject from anatomy to otorhinolaryngology. His father was John Walker, a doctor in the Colonial Service in Africa, and his mother, Katherine (Kate) was an artist. His maternal grandfather was a dermatologist in Islay and Glasgow, and his maternal aunt was awarded the Royal Red Cross during the first world war.

His initial career was as a house physician and house surgeon in Glasgow and then demonstrator in anatomy. He subsequently became senior house officer in surgery, registrar in surgery and senior surgical registrar before becoming a research fellow with the Medical Research Council. He was a registrar next at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, with Professor F A R Stammers (along with Professors Harding Rains and Brian Brooke) and this led to his great interest in auto-immune diseases and ulcerative colitis. He went thence to Newcastle University where he was a reader in surgery with Professor Andrew Lowdon and consultant surgeon at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

In 1967 he became consultant surgeon in Middlesbrough at Hemlington Hospital and remained there until he retired in 1990. He became a Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons in the 1960s. He was an examiner for the FRCS Edinburgh.

His war service was from 1942 to 1947, initially as a non-commissioned officer in the 1st Airborne Division of the 7th Battalion of the King's Own Scottish Borderers and subsequently as a captain in the 1st Battalion Royal Scots in India and Burma.

He married Mary Olorenshaw Rennison on 1 May 1959 and they had two children, Donald, who now works for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Jane, who works for Conoco Ltd.

He was President of the Ileostomy Association of the North of England in 1962 until he retired. He wrote numerous publications and two surgical textbooks, The surgical management of ulcerative colitis (Butterworths, 1969) and Modern stoma care (Churchill Livingstone, 1976). Sadly his move to Middlesbrough in 1967 seemed to dampen his innovations and research initiatives.

He was a hard working man, both in his public and private lives. He was a keen sailor, spending many happy hours in his boat on Lake Ullswater, and enjoyed caravanning in the Lake District. He was widely read in the fields of medical and military history and an avid writer of letters to the press, the Ministry of Defence and anybody else! He also took up drawing in his retirement, and wrote the manuscript of a humorous book about the medical profession, unpublished at the time of his death.

He died of carcinoma of the pancreas on 1 May 1992.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1992 305 250; private reminiscences of H Brendan Devlin; communications from his widow and son].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England