David Charles

David Charles


David Charles, FACOG, FRCOG, FRCSC, was truly a unique physician who touched the lives of many in very significant ways. His family, his patients, those whom he taught, and his friends and colleagues, whom he also taught, have all had our lives enriched by him. David was larger than life, a big man physically and in his persona, a man whose presence could never be missed. He had a wry wit and a twinkling eye, but as described by his son, Jonathan, he was forthright and uncompromising in support of those things he held dear.

He could call on a vast experience in clinical medicine dating to his years spent in solo general practice but equally well could cite the literature in ways available only to a voracious and critical reader. Not only did he know the literature but he was a major contributor, having authored more than 170 papers, chapters, and books. The major focus of his writing was infectious diseases, but his early bibliography reflects his expertise in endocrinology, as well as general obstetrics and gynecology.

He was greatly influenced during his Boston days by Maxwell Finland, and among his associates were some of the major figures in the infectious disease field: Sabath, Klein, Kass, and many others. If we had to choose among his many contributions to the field, we would most likely focus on his seminal studies of the placental transfer of antibiotics done in Boston in the late 1960s. These studies brought not only scientific accolades but difficult criticism because they were performed on aborted tissue, but, as always, David stood tall and moved forward.

Educated in the United Kingdom, he completed his undergraduate studies at Hereford Cathedral School and Queens College in Cambridge and received his medical degrees from St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Having spent 3 years in general practice in Bangor and the south of Wales, he went on to complete his training in obstetrics and gynecology at the Hammersmith Hospital in London and then emigrated to Canada in 1955, where he again engaged in general practice for the next 4 years. There then followed a National Institutes of Health fellowship at the Harvard Medical School, 3 years as a lecturer and consultant in gynecology and gynecologic pathology at the University of Glasgow, and a return to the United States and the University of Pittsburgh for 3 years as an assistant and then associate professor.

In 1967 he was named professor and chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Boston University, where he served until 1974 when he was named to a similar post at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. His final academic assignment was as professor and chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, a post he held until his retirement to Wales in 1987, where he continued his prolific writing.

In addition to his Fellowship in the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society, he was a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was a member of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation and a founding member, and the second president of the Infectious Disease Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology.

David is survived by his wife, Jean, who resides in Wales, and by a son and daughter and two grandsons, all living in the United States.

Submitted by Richard H. Schwarz

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