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Biographical entry Miller, Thomas Finlayson (1917 - 1998)

MRCS and FRCS 1947; MB ChB New Zealand 1941; FRACS 1957.

24 September 1917
Fielding, New Zealand
15 December 1998
General surgeon


Thomas Miller (Tom) was born in Fielding, New Zealand, on 24 September 1917, the third son of Thomas Miller, a Presbyterian minister and Marion Meiklem née Strang, the daughter of a sea captain who became marine superintendent of the Union Castle Line. He was educated at the Otago Boys High School and Otago Medical School. He did his house jobs at Timaru Hospital and then joined the second New Zealand Expeditionary Force, rising to Captain, and seeing active service at Monte Cassino with the Maori Battalion.

At the end of the war he came to London as registrar at St James's, Balham, with a surgical team headed by Norman Tanner, and then spent two years at the Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Taplow under Sir Ralph Marnham. He passed the FRCS in 1947.

He returned to New Zealand in 1950 as the surgeon superintendent of the West Coast Hospital in Hokitika. During this attachment, he was involved with others in the identification of the first cases of leptospirosis in New Zealand. In 1952 he became surgeon/superintendent at Balclutha Hospital, South Otago and began 30 years of dedicated service to the South Otago community. There he set up a modern coronary care unit, operating theatres, and a laboratory block. He was a careful and meticulous surgeon who maintained the highest standards and was described by both patients and colleagues as "a gentleman".

In 1947 he married Elizabeth Mary Donohue, a staff nurse at St James's, Balham. They had three sons, one who became a general practitioner in Blenheim, one was a lawyer in Dunedin and another a neurologist in London. Outside work his interests included the Presbyterian Church, rock fishing and gardening and he followed rugby, cricket and athletics with enthusiasm. He retired to Dunedin in 1982 and Elizabeth (Betty) died in 1986, after a long and happy partnership. He remarried and his second wife, Patricia, died in 1995. He died on 15 December 1998 after some years fighting an increasing battle with Parkinson's disease.

Sources used to compile this entry: [N Z Med J 1999 112(1089) 217].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England