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After an education much disrupted by the second world war Joe Booth left school early and volunteered for the army; he was sent to Palestine during the period when the state of Israel was being founded—on which he often reflected in later years. On demobilisation he went to Regent Street Polytechnic as an ex-service student and flourished, gaining excellent marks and obtaining a place at King's College Medical School. He was a popular member of the “social” hospital rugby teams, which in those days were able to supplement any natural abilities with amphetamines, then seen as a harmless pick me up. The hospital pantomime also benefited from his skills. Joe met his wife, Cynthia, a staff nurse at King's; they quickly had a growing family which encouraged him to switch from his early interest in surgery to general practice. His own career mirrored the changes in general practice between 1960 and the early 1980s.
Sadly his wife died of breast cancer at the age of 41, precipitating his move into a group practice. He managed to raise five children and be a much loved general practitioner whose patients continued to write to him even 20 years after he had retired. His death in November 2006, marked by an article in the Croydon Advertiser, encouraged further letters from sad ex-patients to his home near Saffron Walden, where he lived with his daughter (also a doctor specialising in palliative medicine).
Apart from his love of medicine, Joe was an accomplished potter, childminder, and raconteur with a witty and elegant turn of phrase. He loved the theatre and classical music and, in later life, surprised himself by being able to bear country life.
Former general practitioner South Norwood (b Nantwich, Cheshire, 16 March 1926; q King's College Hospital, London, 1955; Legge prize in surgery, DObstRCOG), died from the complications of atherosclerosis on 6 November 2006.