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BMJ. 2007 August 4; 335(7613): 265.
PMCID: PMC1939794

William Whitaker

Born in Keighley, Yorkshire, William Whitaker (“Bill”) won a scholarship to the local grammar school. Among his classmates for those formative years were Lords Hatch and Briggs.

Qualifying from Leeds Medical School in 1942, Bill entered the Royal Army Medical Corps for the duration of the second world war.

On his demobilisation he took a post at the National Heart Hospital. From there he moved to the department of medicine at the University of Sheffield as a lecturer in cardiology, which was still in its infancy. A unit of cardiac catheterisation was being set up at what became the Royal Northern General Hospital and the pioneers James Brown, Judson Chesterman, Stuart Harris, Tom Morris, and Donald Heath persuaded Bill to add his expertise to the unit. Diagnosis by catheterisation had arrived.

In 1956 Bill transferred to Leeds General Infirmary, where he continued to be an excellent mentor to many a young house officer.

A dedicated professional who did not suffer fools gladly, he was, however, unlike the old style consultants: informal in his approach, a superb clinician, and, when asked an intelligent question, a great teacher. His brilliant wit came no doubt from his fine observational powers, his gems being well worth waiting for.

A past vice president of the Royal College of Physicians and a lifelong rugby fanatic, Bill loved nothing more than to go fishing.

In 1984 he exchanged his stethoscope for a rod and his consulting rooms for the river bank.

He leaves a widow, Elizabeth, and four children.


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