My association with Murree Allen began in 1949 in Newcastle when we were both in general practice and although in opposition, we established a bond of friendship until his untimely death at the age of forty-five. He represented the end of an era when general practice was the stepping stone to consultant practice as a physician.
He was the son of a doctor and his academic record was an enviable one. He was first in the State in the leaving certificate of 1927 and graduated in medicine with honours in 1933, after which he was an RMO at Sydney Hospital and was in general practice in Lismore for six years. Following this, while a member of the AIF, he was in charge of the dermatological ward at Concord Hospital. During his stay there he obtained the MRACP in 1945 and continued to work at Concord as a physician and dermatologist.
In 1946 he came to Newcastle to practise as a general practitioner and a consultant physician in dermatology. He held honorary appointments at Newcastle Mater Hospital and Wallsend District Hospital. Unfortunately during his latter years he developed symptoms of ischaemic heart disease, but despite this he continued to work at a furious pace, demonstrating a constant application of his calling and a detached disregard of his own well-being. I came to know him well at that time because he would sometimes discuss the problems of his health with me, showing me his electrocardiograms that he recorded himself on a rather primitive machine. Despite advice he refused to lighten his medical load.
Although reserved, he demonstrated a very significant sensitivity and gentleness which he managed to keep well disguised from his friends and patients. A man of scholarship with a very broad range of interests that were seldom revealed, he learned Italian during his early undergraduate years. In fact some may have thought of him as a dreamer and thinker, but his clinical skills were finely honed as many an unwary resident medical officer discovered.
We in Newcastle were very saddened by his premature and sudden passing in 1956. Two sons have followed him in medicine and one, Keith, is in practice as a chest physician in this city.
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