Obituary: Professor George Montgomery
Friday 19 February 1993
A MODEST and quiet man with charm of manner, George Montgomery made major achievements in army medicine, administration of health services and the building up of pathology in the Edinburgh Medical School.
A keen Territorial, Montgomery served through the Second World War in the Royal Army Medical Corps, reaching the rank of Brigadier. Most of his service was in the Middle and Far East. In those theatres of war, malaria and dysentery, yellow fever and parasitic infections were of great importance. Montgomery organised their laboratory control; he ensured the supply of plasma and saline for battle casualties.
After the war he returned to Glasgow and was appointed in 1948 to the St Mungo (Notman) Chair of Pathology at the university and as consultant pathologist to the Royal Infirmary. Here he spent six productive years at a critical time of national health service and university development.
In 1954 he was appointed to the Chair of Pathology at Edinburgh University, a position he occupied with distinction until his retirement in 1971. His speciality was the microscopic diagnosis of disease. At that time there had occurred a rapid growth of the technique of biopsy, the removal of tissue samples from the living patient. The microscope lends precision to diagnosis and has enabled clinical specialities to expand. He saw the necessity for specialisation in diagnostic pathology and ensured this development in Edinburgh. He carried out research on heart disease and, with A. Whitley Branwood, published work on coronary artery thrombosis. During his tenure of office his department published 315 papers in journals and several books; seven of the staff moved on to professorships in other medical schools.
Outstanding tact and administrative skill led to many demands on his time. Montgomery became chairman of the Scottish Health Services Council (1954-59), Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (1955- 57) and Chairman of the Edinburgh Postgraduate Board of Medicine (1966-70). He was elected vice-president of both the Royal College of Pathologists and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. .
George Montgomery found time to write a textbook of pathology and always had the interests of undergraduates at heart. His department was run with a controlled laissez-faire which gave responsibility to his staff, who were trusted to do their best. Each year he went with his colleagues for a golf competition, where he was a cheerful host. He enjoyed many years of retirement, with his wife Margaret, whom he married in 1933.
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