Dr Charles Roy Wilson
(1931 – 2016)
Dr Charles Roy Wilson, affectionately known to family and friends as ‘Chilla’, was born in Brisbane in 1931, the youngest of three to join siblings, Fergus and Barbara. His father, Victor Roy Wilson, was a GP in Ashgrove with an interest in gynaecology, which may have influenced his son’s choice of career.
Charles was educated at Marist Brothers Ashgrove and then boarded at Brisbane Grammar School from 1944–48. His boarding experiences left him with a lifetime aversion to baked root vegetables. He studied medicine at the University of Queensland Medical School, where he made lifelong friends with Bill Douglas, Lionel Lukin and Bill Cadzow. After graduating MBBS, Charles moved to London to study obstetrics and gynaecology at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital.
After obtaining Membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), Charles moved to Edinburgh for surgical experience and obtained Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSE). He also married Sue in Edinburgh.
After finishing his training, Charles and Sue moved back to Brisbane with their two children and he set up a O&G practice at ‘Inchcolm’ on Wickham Terrace. He was soon appointed visiting obstetrician to the Royal Women’s Hospital, Brisbane. Dr John Campbell, the superintendent at the time, remembers that Charles was an excellent obstetrician. Later, he was appointed to the Princess Alexandra Hospital as a visiting gynaecologist. Not an easy job, as this was in the days before sub-specialisation when one was expected to manage everything that came through the hospital front door. With his training in gynaecology and surgery, Charles managed with aplomb.
Charles obtained Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RACOG) in 1979 and, following the amalgamation of the Australian and New Zealand Colleges, was admitted as a Fellow of RANZCOG in 1998.
Charles excelled at rugby. He was in the first 15 at Grammar; a rugby Blue at the University of Queensland, winning five premierships; and became a Wallaby. His first test cap was won as flanker in the Wallabies 1957 match against the touring All Blacks, making him Wallaby 424. He toured New Zealand the next year as captain. The young inexperienced squad exceeded expectations with Charles’ direction, winning six matches, including a gritty 6–3 win over the All Blacks in the second test. In 1988, Charles became Queensland manager and a selector. He managed many of the Wallaby tours in the 1980s, including the 1982 tour to New Zealand, Italy and France in 1983 and the winning Grand Slam tour of 1984. With Charles as manager and Alan Jones the coach, this team was destined to succeed. It was during a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen that one of the heavier forwards sat on a chair that promptly collapsed. The Queen, serene as ever, turned to Charles saying, ‘Do not worry about the chair, Dr Wilson, it was very old.’
After establishing his O&G practice, Charles and Sue bought a farm at Tumbulgum, in northern New South Wales. They named it ‘Benbullen’ in honour of their shared Scottish heritage. Initially, Charles planted macadamias, bananas and experimented with exotic tropical fruits. The children remember days of fun and laughter with Charles, Sue and friends on the farm. The family also went on camping and fishing trips to Fraser Island, particularly during the September tailer run. It was great fun to drive up the beach to Waddy Point with Charles in his Land Rover with classical music blaring from the radio.
Charles was an extraordinary man who was impossible to dislike. He managed to combine his love of family with medicine, sport and farming, and was propelled by a powerful life force. He died on 2 September 2016, and is survived by his wife, Susan, and his four children; Robin, Annabel, Georgina and Andrew.