VALE: Brian Frederick Charles Smith – Frank Garlick

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Dr Brian Smith lived a rich and fulfilling life.  By vocation he was an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.  He lived in Brisbane and India and is remembered dearly in both places.  He was described as the ultimate Christian gentleman.

Brian was born in 1930.  He was the second child of Fred and Catherine and grew up with five sisters in a very close and loving family.  He began his education at Wynnum Central State School and continued at Wynnum State High School where he was Dux in both Junior and Senior years.  He excelled in sport as well as academia. He went on to study Medicine and graduated from the University of Queensland in 1953. He met Ethel at a church camp at the age of 18, and they married in 1955. They had four children.

After residency he gained surgical experience – first as a surgical registrar at Royal Brisbane Hospital, and then as a medical officer at Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital.

In 1960, Brian, together with Ethel and their two young children, and following a sense of God’s calling, left to work in India.  They spent one year learning the language, then went to the Mission Hospital at Tiruvalla in Kerala, South India. The next four years were challenging – he faced surgical presentations of all kinds, and even more significant were obstetrical and gynaecological complications.  So, in 1965 Brian, along with his wife and four children, returned to Brisbane for more training and experience in O & G. He began in a research position and then moved to be a registrar in O & G in the Royal Brisbane Hospital, the Royal Women’s Hospital, and the Princess Alexandra Hospital in 1966 and 1967.

In mid-1968, he went to the UK to work for his MRCOG, and then with his family he returned to Tiruvalla, where he worked for the next three years.  During this time the children went to boarding school in the Nilgiris for their education.

The family returned to Brisbane at the end of 1971 and Brian was appointed Deputy Medical Superintendent at the Royal Women’s Hospital, becoming Acting Medical Superintendent in 1974.  He launched into private practice in January 1975 where he became a leading consultant for 24 years.

In 1999, Brian retired from private practice in order to care for Ethel who had developed Parkinson’s disease.  She was his primary concern, though he continued surgical assisting part time as he was able for the next seven years.  By this time, her condition had deteriorated and he became her fulltime carer – a task that he carried out with the same dedication that had characterised his clinical work.  Ethel passed away in 2009.

In the years that followed, Brian found purpose through contributing to the needs of those around him and resuming an active role in his church.

Brian was a keen sports fan and, as many people knew, he was a runner for most of his life.  He was always very disciplined, and this helped him to continue exercising, as well as to live his life according to the principles he believed in – evidenced in his health, his family, his friendships, his career, his reputation and his character.  Brian’s character reflected that of his Lord in so many ways and his faith was central throughout his life. He served his church in a range of leadership roles for many years.

Brian was intellectually curious and honest and, as he grew older, he became more open-minded and willing to consider a wide range of issues from different perspectives.  His life exemplified humility, generosity, gentleness and kindness.

Towards the end of 2018, Brian developed an aggressive lymphoma and he passed away on January 17th.

Bio: By Frank Garlick. Brian and I met as medical students in the 1940s at the University of Queensland where we were both members of the Evangelical Union.  The friendship deepened on graduation, especially as I got to know his sister Val, whom I subsequently married. We both worked in India as medical missionaries.  On our return to Brisbane, our friendship continued and was enriched especially over the past ten years when we met for coffee and sharing every couple of weeks. I will miss those times more than I can say.

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