Death at 101 of distinguished urological surgeon

Date: Tuesday 8th May 2018
Richard Shaw
Richard Shaw

LANGWATHBY 101-year-old Richard Shaw has died at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, after a fall at home.

Born on 25th October, 1916, in Ravensthorpe, West Riding of Yorkshire, he came from a family of corn millers. Educated at Mirfield Grammar School, he studied medicine at Leeds University, graduating with honours in 1940.

After surgical appointments on the professional unit at Leeds General Infirmary, and as RSO at the Dewsbury and District Infirmary, he was called up for military service in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He initially served as medical officer to an infantry unit in Norfolk, where he met his future wife, Jean Duncan Hart.

He then went off to North Africa as surgical specialist in military hospitals in Algeria and later in Europe.

The couple married on 17th August, 1945, at North Walsham. Soon after, he was despatched to Kenya for two years in Nairobi and Mombasa. His wife soon joined him there and a second honeymoon was spent on the coast at Shanzu and western Uganda.

After returning to civilian life, he was appointed chief assistant in surgery at the West Middlesex Hospital. In 1951, he joined the surgical staff of the Coventry hospitals as a general surgeon.

He devoted himself to the development of the urological branch of surgery and, in 1968, after the opening of Walsgrave Hospital, the department was awarded national recognition.

He was a member of the International Society of Urologists and the council of the urological section of the Royal Society of Medicine, to which he was awarded life membership on his retirement.

He was chairman of Coventry branch of the British Medical Association (1968), member of the Hospital Management Committee (1964-72) and chairman of the Midland Urological Club.

His diagnostic and practical skills were passed on to the next generation in the publication of many papers which he gave at international conferences. He was well regarded by both staff and patients and, according to his successor, left an excellent urological department which went from strength to strength.

Richard was a devoted family man. He and Jean, who died in 2014, were married for 68 years. They shared a fine sense of humour and many pastimes. They had three children who live in Cumbria, Italy and Canada, where they have children and grandchildren.

Together, they shared a great love of classical music and opera. Richard was a keen pianist until his eyesight deteriorated, was very well-read and a good linguist. While at a conference in Moscow in the 60s, his rudimentary knowledge of Russian allowed him to lead a party of lost surgeons though the underground system safely.

A special love was country walking, which he had enjoyed since his student days. For 30 years, the couple enjoyed many holidays at their cottage in Herefordshire. In later life, he and Jean took up golf, which they continued playing into their mid-80s.

In 2006, the couple left Leamington Spa to move to Cumbria to be near their elder daughter and son-in-law, Deborah and David Rackham. It was an area already familiar to them where, until very recently, Richard was still enjoying the beauty of the fells.

He and Jean found nothing but kindness in Langwathby and Penrith. He was a strong, courageous and courteous man, continuing with a large degree of independence until last Christmas.

His 100th birthday in 2016 was celebrated by a full turnout of children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and he gave a very moving speech about his full and interesting life, his happy marriage and family blessings.