Alex Anderson was born in the Western District town of Warrnambool, Victoria, the younger son of LW and Mrs Anderson. The family moved to a property near Berwick, where Alex went to the local school, and then to Scotch College, Melbourne, for his secondary education, where he took the prize in British history and European history. In 1938 he went up to Ormond College, in the University of Melbourne, to study medicine, graduating in 1944. After resident experience at the Alfred Hospital and Ballarat Hospital, he spent two years as the flying doctor based in Cloncurry, in inland Australia. The next three years were in general practice in Ballarat where he was held in high esteem by his colleagues and patients.
His faith and commitment to God's service had been growing and maturing to a firm desire to work as a medical missionary. Feeling the need of further training, he left his general practice to study for the DTM&H in Sydney. Shortly before he was to sit his examination, he was involved in a car accident, fracturing a vertebra. Undaunted, he sat the examination in a plaster jacket. He passed, and took the diploma in 1952, and later that year was admitted MRACP.
Not for Alex a life of comfort and ease; he felt called to serve where the need was greatest, and volunteered to serve at the American Presbyterian Hospital at Elat, in West Africa. The heat and humidity of a coastal equatorial region, and the infections endemic there took their toll and caused his return after two years. After treatment and recuperation he returned to Elat, then in the throes of unrest and disorganisation after gaining independence. With the African superintendent, and the senior American doctor, Alex was subjected to nightly sessions of brain washing, which he said `was profoundly disturbing psychologically, especially the total lack of opportunity to make any defence, but it had no effect on my faith'.
His work was arduous, the climate almost unbearable, and the mental stress intolerable. Again, after further illness, he had to return to Australia, `looking like a man out of Belsen', as one of his friends described him. He gradually recovered and then spent two years at the Paton Memorial Hospital, Vila, New Hebrides.
After convalescence, he was appointed medical superintendent of the Queen Elizabeth Homes, Ballarat, in 1965. This opened a new chapter in his life, characterised by his usual thoroughness and warm interest and care of his elderly patients. He was able to initiate a number of procedures which improved the standard of care, and quality of life of those in his care. He had two operations for cancer of the bowel, and finally acute mesenteric thrombosis which caused his death on 3 January 1971.
Alex was a fine physician in any company - well informed, careful and caring. He demonstrated these qualities in the most difficult of circumstances. He really enjoyed his medical work, and through it served his fellow men with singleness of purpose. He seemed always serene and happy, and never faltered in his courage or his faith.
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