John Agar was born in Glasgow, Scotland and came to Australia in 1920 when his father was appointed Professor of Zoology at the University of Melbourne. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and commenced a combined science and medical course at the University of Melbourne. He was a resident in Trinity College and in 1930 was a member of the University athletics and rugby teams and was awarded a University of Melbourne blue and an Australian University blue for athletics in 1932.
He was an RMO at the Alfred Hospital in 1937 and at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Fairfield, in 1938. He enlisted in the 2nd AIF in June 1940 and left Australia as RMO of 2/23 Infantry Battalion. He served in the Western Desert campaigns and was a 'Rat of Tobruk' where he was mentioned in dispatches. John subsequently served in Syria with the 2/3 Field Ambulance and as DADMS 9th Div HQ and returned with them to Australia in 1943. He later served with the 2/15 AGH in Bougainville and was discharged from the army in March 1946.
John entered private practice in Geelong in 1946 and remained there until his death in 1978. In 1947, he was appointed honorary physician to the Geelong Hospital and during the next thirty years made an outstanding contribution to all aspects of health care and organisation at the Geelong Hospital and Geelong district generally. He was appointed consultant cardiologist to the Geelong Hospital in 1967 and was active in this appointment until the week before his death. He was a member of the Geelong Hospital committee of management from 1963 to 1975 and of its advisory board from 1950 to 1975.
John served on the Victorian State Committee of the College from 1964 to 1970. His particular interest was cardiology and he took an active part in the organisation of the initial appeals leading to the formation of the Victorian Heart Foundation in 1961. Five years later he established its first country Rehabilitation Clinic in Geelong. He wrote a booklet Return to Health which was later adopted for general use by the National Heart Foundation.
John married Mollie Wells in 1938 and they completely complemented each other. Both were practising Christians. Both had a great love of outdoor pursuits. A part of John's life not known to many of his colleagues was his great love and knowledge of rocks and minerals, his study and appreciation of flora and fauna, and his deep understanding of aboriginal lore, paintings, native shelters and artifacts. He and Mollie tramped far and high throughout Australia to see, study and to photograph all aspects of these great loves of John. A precious memory remains with a number of his close friends who had the great privilege and fortune to have tramped with John and Mollie and shared both the heat of Australia's outback and the majesty of the inland nights with this wise and humble man.
John McDonald Agar was the elder statesman in the medical community of Geelong. He was respected and loved. His passing left a huge gap in Geelong in the lives of people in all walks of life. His son John graduated in medicine in 1970 and became a fellow of the College in 1978. He now practices as a renal physician in Geelong.
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