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Biographical entry Jonathan, Owen Morris (1917 - 2017)

MRCS LRCP 1942; FRCS 1950.

25 July 1917
Bodedern, Anglesey
26 May 2017
General surgeon


Owen Morris Jonathan was a consultant general surgeon at Glan Clwyd Hospital, north Wales. He was born in Bodedern, Anglesey on 25 July 1917, the son of Owen Arthur and Hanna Ester Jonathan. His mother's family were Anglesey farmers, but he was brought up in Tywyn, Merionethshire, where his father was the proprietor of the well-known haberdashery and general store, Cambrian House, and chairman of Merionethshire County Council.

He was educated at Tywyn Intermediate School and then, following his matriculation, at Aberystwyth University, where he completed his first MB. He then moved to Guy's, qualifying in 1942. He gained his commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps and, after training in Northern Ireland and Southern England, was posted to the Far East, where he served in India, Ceylon, Burma, Indonesia and Vietnam until he was demobilised in 1946 with the rank of captain.

On his return to the UK he resumed his medical training. Having decided to specialise in general surgery, he trained mainly in Wales, but also undertook fellowships at St Mark's Hospital, London, in colorectal surgery and in urology at St Peter's, London. He also undertook a further fellowship at the University Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1950.

In 1949, he married Lowry Thomas of Abererch, Pwllheli by whom he had three children, Ann, Owen and David. In due course, he became grandfather to seven and great grandfather to three.

In 1959, he was appointed as a consultant surgeon in south Wales, but three years later was able to achieve his ultimate ambition of returning to live and work in north Wales and was appointed as a consultant surgeon to the Clwyd and Deeside Group, initially based at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Rhyl and Colwyn Bay Hospital, which were subsequently amalgamated as Glan Clwyd Hospital, where he remained in practice until his retirement in 1983.

He established a reputation not only for his prodigious workload but also for the range and complexity of surgery he undertook. A story that caused much amusement at the time related to an accreditation visit to his unit by a distinguished professor, who after being taken on a ward round and seeing the range of major procedures that he had undertaken, turned to him and said 'Tell me Jonathan, what do you do with your hernias? Send them to Liverpool?'

Upon his wife's untimely death in 1983, he decided to leave Prestatyn where he had lived for the previous 20 years and move to his family's home in Criccieth, Gwynedd. In retirement, he took up a number of consultant locum appointments that brought him back to Glan Clwyd and also to Bangor's Caernarfonshire and Anglesey Hospital. He also served as a panel member of the Welsh Medical Appeal Tribunal Board, working into his seventies.

In 1988, he became High Sheriff of Gwynedd, a role he thoroughly enjoyed with the exception of having to occasionally wear ceremonial dress!

He also travelled very extensively, visiting his three children in their various overseas postings and also his many friends and former colleagues around the world. Even until his death he was still in regular communication with several of his previous registrars. He also took up two visiting professorships in surgery in Nairobi, Kenya and in Ludhiana, India.

When at home he read extensively and was particularly interested in Welsh history, UK politics and global current affairs. He was a passionate supporter of Welsh rugby and of English cricket. He was also a very keen golfer and continued to play in his longstanding foursome well into his late nineties. Above all, he was devoted to his family and friends and to the memory of his late wife.

He died on 24 May 2017 at Gwynedd Hospital eight weeks short of his 100th birthday, an event that he had planned for, including writing his speech. In the event his family decided to continue with the party as a memorial, where his large family and many friends were able to enjoy much reminiscing.

David Jonathan

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2017 359 5226 - accessed 13 March 2018].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England