Professor James Walker, CBE, BSc, MD, FRCOG, FRCP(GLAS)

James Walker


Professor James Walker, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Dundee, died on July 27, 1995. Jimmy Walker, as he was always known, was a very distinguished graduate of Glasgow University, being a BSc in 1935 and an MB ChB with Honors in 1938. He took the Brunton Memorial Prize for the most distinguished graduate of his year. During the war he was in the RAF Medical Service in India and rose to the rank of Wing Commander at that time. After the war he became Hall Fellow in the Midwifery Department of Glasgow University. He proceeded from there to be Senior Lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Aberdeen University under Professor Dugald Baird. While there, he, in conjunction with Dr Elsie Turnbull, did some very important work on fetal anoxia. This work formed the basis of his MD thesis, which he was awarded with honors in 1954. He was one of the original pioneers in the subspecialty of what we now know as Feto-Maternal medicine. Walker spent 2 years at the Postgraduate Medical School in London with Professor John Browne before in 1956 going to the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Queen's College Dundee, which was at that time part of St Andrew's University. When Dundee University was instituted in 1967, this Chair became part of the new University, and Walker remained there until he retired in 1981. After retirement he took up a post as Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Kebangsaan in Kuala Lumpur, where he helped with the development of that department.

He was a member of and chaired many national and international committees, his last one being the FIGO Committee on Annual Reports, Records, and Definitions of Terms in Human Reproduction. Since his Aberdeen days he had been interested in audit, and his expertise made him the ideal person to chair this committee. For his contribution to FIGO he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award at the Montreal Congress in 1994. Unfortunately he was not well enough to be present to accept the award in person, but his son, Professor James J. Walker of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Leeds University, accepted it on his behalf. For his work in medicine he was awarded the CBE in 1971.

In Dundee he pioneered cervical screening long before it became a national service. He showed that with a properly organized service the death rate from cervical cancer could be reduced.

James Walker was a survivor. In 1966 he underwent major surgery, and at one time his survival was in doubt. However, his determination ensured his survival for almost another 30 years.

Throughout his career he had the affectionate support of his wife Cathie. They were a marvelous team. They travelled widely to many countries and made good friends wherever they went. He was a visiting professor at many universities in different countries such as America, Canada, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.

Cathie and Jimmy, as they were known, were marvelous hosts and gave strong support to junior members of staff. He is survived by Cathie and by two daughters, who are doctors, and a son, who has already been mentioned.

He will be missed by many people, and letters from patients in the local press after his death showed in what affection he was held by his patients.

Submitted by Professor Sir Malcolm Macnaughton

Return to In Memoriam