Mind Matters
Vol. 20 No 3 | Spring 2018
Obituary: Dr Richard Bowen Stanley
Dr Lance Herron

This article is 6 years old and may no longer reflect current clinical practice.

Dr Richard Bowen Stanley

Richard was a person who cared deeply for his patients and had a great love of obstetrics. He was a founding member of the Fertility Society of Australia and introduced keyhole surgery to the Mackay region of Queensland.

Richard’s commitment to the core value of medicine and his inspirational work ethic are legacies he has passed on to his son and grandchildren.

Richard was born in Harrogate in the UK. He studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, where his great-great-great-grandfather Edward Stanley (1793–1862) was demonstrator of anatomy, writing several books on the subject. He was also appointed Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria in 1858.

Qualifying in 1962, Richard returned to work in his hometown of Chelmsford as a junior doctor, where he met Dr Gresley Lukin (MRCOG) and Dr Russell Ferguson from Australia, who were instrumental in his later emigration. Richard then worked at St Helier Hospital in Surrey under Dr Doreen Daly (MRCOG), who encouraged him to specialise in obstetrics, before moving to St Anthony’s Hospital in Cheam, where he met Jane Kerr, a nurse.

Richard married Jane in 1968. They were married for 43 years and had two children: Angus and Tania (deceased).

Richard worked as a registrar on the Isle of Wight for a year before moving to the Mulago Hospital in Uganda as a senior registrar. Unfortunately, due to political upheaval, he was forced to leave the country. He then worked for a year in family planning at the Kenyatta hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

In 1969, Richard became a Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

On return to the UK, he worked at the Whittington and University College Hospital. In 1972, in response to an advertisement in the British Medical Journal by Dr Lukin, the family emigrated to Mackay in Queensland, Australia, where Richard worked in the Paul Hopkins Family Medical Centre as a GP obstetrician and gynaecologist.

In 1975, Dr Lukin and Richard started the first O&G practice in Mackay, working at Mackay Base Hospital and in private practice. In 1977, they were joined by Dr Vivienne O’Connor (MRCOG) who had been a registrar with Richard at the University College Hospital.

Richard was admitted as a Foundation Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1979, receiving his RCOG Fellowship in 1984. Following the amalgamation of the Australian and New Zealand Colleges, Richard was admitted as a Fellow of RANZCOG in 1998.

In 1998, aged 60, with some health issues and a very large workload, Richard decided to retire. I took over the practice and, as a tribute to Richard’s work in Mackay, had new rooms built and named them Stanley House. This was officially opened by the then member of Mackay, Tim Mulherin MP, on 16 September 2004.

Richard had many interests, including photography, golf and travel and was a great family man. He and Jane retired to Brisbane to be closer to their son and four grandchildren. They bought a camper trailer and toured many parts of Australia.

In 2011, Richard was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an illness he bore with great dignity. Every good moment was cherished and spent with family visiting national parks. Richard died in Brisbane on 23 May 2012. He will be remembered by his many patients, faithful staff, colleagues and family for his wonderful personality, characterised by an easygoing manner, patient disposition, and an impish sense of fun. He had an ability to mix at all levels and is sadly missed.

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