Michael Nee: Much-loved dentist who built up a successful Harley Street practice

Michael Nee was a man so full of life and its joys that his sudden and unexpected death from a pulmonary embolism left his family and countless friends not only heart-broken but incredulous. Born in Athlone in the centre of Ireland in 1942, he was brought up with a close awareness of his country's recent history, and was a warm, shrewd and witty commentator on the life, politics and literature of his native country. He was an outstanding schoolboy athlete, winning the Irish schoolboy sprint championship, and holding the Connaught long jump record for 30 years, as well as playing rugby as a fleet-footed fly-half at the highest schoolboy and university levels.

After qualifying as a dentist at University College Dublin in 1967 (the many friends he made there were friends for life, and the source of innumerable hilarious anecdotes, inimitably recounted) he became part of that diaspora of 1960s-educated Irish only too glad to escape from the suffocating orthodoxies of their homeland at the time. Late-'60s London was another thing altogether, and Michael savoured its pleasures to the full, along with many fellow countrymen and a growing circle of English friends who were quick to love his wit and warmth. He was a peerless raconteur, never afraid to tell a familiar joke as a new one. "It's the way you tell 'em," as he could justifiably claim.

He joined a National Health dental practice in Edmonton, which he soon took over and built up to one of the largest in London, opening a Harley Street practice in 1986. It was a very busy one, friends becoming patients and patients becoming friends. Behind his warm, engagingly theatrical manner at work lay an up-to-date, dedicated, supremely skilled and sympathetic professional, devotedly supported by his practice manager and assistant of many years, Paula Brennan.

Outside his work the centre of his world was his family – his wife of 41 years, Ragnhild, and his sons, Gervase (who will follow him in the dental practice), Patrick and Marcus. Each night Michael could look forward to the product of Ragnhild's outstanding culinary skills; for many years she combined care of the home and children with helping manage the practice. The elder two boys inherited his love of food and golf – family games were competitive affairs, the ferocity softened by Michael's wit. They are, along with Ragnhild, and as Michael was, superb skiers. Marcus's learning difficulties showed Michael at his tenderest, indulging his son's passion for deafening clubs by taking him on late-night weekend visits to the noisiest ones; they soon became the doormen's favourites.

The number, range and (to his envious friends) the sheer number of his holidays, long and short, were remarkable; he was an infallible guide to the best new restaurants. Loyal to the ones he liked, inventive in his buying of good wine, the most joyous of golfing companions, and sound guide to new books and theatre – he had broad and well-informed cultural interests, which enriched his conversation, while his Irish education had left him with an astonishing amount of poetry he had by heart.

Few find so much in life to enjoy, spread so much joy around them, and leave so many so saddened by their going. Michael was one of that blessed band. His funeral at St Joseph's, Highgate, overflowed with those mourning the premature loss of such a treasure.

Michael Nee, dentist: born Athlone, Ireland 7 September 1943; married Ragnhild (three sons); died 20 April 2011.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us