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BMJ. 2007 July 28; 335(7612): 215.
PMCID: PMC1934472

Robert Francis Patrick Cronin

Patrick Cronin was the son of A J Cronin, the celebrated writer. His family moved to the United States at the outbreak of the second world war. He was enrolled at Princeton but interrupted his study when he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943, transferring to the British Army between 1945 and 1947. He re-enrolled at Princeton in 1999 to resume his bachelor of arts degree at Princeton. Having taken 52 years and 111 days to achieve his degree, he earned citation in the Guinness World Records for taking the longest time ever in completing a university degree.

Patrick took his first medical degree at McGill followed by further training in the United Kingdom at Hammersmith and the Brompton. Despite his specialist training in cardiology, he was his best in the practice of broad-based internal medicine and health care in general. Working with the Canadian International Development Agency, he set up student and graduate fellowship exchange programmes with developing countries. In 1976 His Highness the Aga Khan, hereditary and spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili sect, appointed him consultant in the setting up of a medical university in Karachi. He served in the Aga Khan Health Services over the next 15 years. A few years after the death of his father he retired from McGill and settled in his father's house in Montreux. It was sometimes said that the father and son never enjoyed a close relationship, but Patrick made it his task to collect every publication of A J Cronin, including books and magazine articles and a collection of film versions of his father's works. Patrick Cronin's life was shattered after his daughter Daphne suffered a spinal injury while training for Canada's equestrian team. Although Daphne was able to rehabilitate herself into independent living, her disability severely affected his lifestyle. Raised a Catholic, Patrick Cronin would be described as a secular. In 2004 he began to develop memory impairment, which progressed over the next few years. He leaves a wife, Sis (Shirley); a son and two daughters; and five grandchildren.

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