Geoffrey Wynne-Jones FRCSENG FRACS
General Surgeon
28 January 1925 – 24 October 2019

Geoffrey Wynne-Jones, the youngest child of Frederick Arthur Jones, a monumental mason, and Catherine Emily Parker was born in Hawera.  He had two brothers, David and Richard, and a sister, Elizabeth.  Geoffrey commenced school at Hawera Main School and subsequently attended Hawera Technical High School, where he was dux.  His uncle, Mortimer Townsend, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and an active Southern Hemisphere observer, taught him the fundamentals of astronomy, and with this interest he enrolled at Auckland University studying mathematics and physics.  However, he changed direction after graduation, gaining entry to Otago Medical School.

On completing his MB ChB in1949, Geoffrey moved to Middlemore Hospital in Auckland where he met Jenefer Fea, a nurse assisting in a medical procedure.  She enthusiastically accepted his invitation for a ride on his motorbike, a strong friendship developed, and they married in 1952.   After undertaking a series of general practice locums around the country and under a bursary obligation, Geoffrey received call-up papers from the military.   This resulted in serving a year on active service in Korea 1952-1953 with the 16th Field Regiment.  Embarking as a Lieutenant, he returned as a Captain and, although he never talked much about his experiences to his family, he was clearly pleased to return home.

Following his return from Korea, Geoffrey, Jenefer and Peter, their first child born in 1954, set off by ship for London via the Panama Canal so Geoffrey could gain his surgical Fellowship.  Enjoying life in London they took advantage of the many plays, concerts and musicals on offer.  However, the pressure of Geoffrey’s study was such that on one occasion the baby-sitter was despatched as concert partner for Jenefer while Geoffrey burned the midnight oil!  In July 1956 he successfully gained Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons.   Their second child, Jeremy, was born the same year.   Fellowship completed, Geoffrey secured a paediatric orthopaedic run with H.H. Nixon and Denis Brown at Queen Mary’s Carshalton and Great Ormond Street. This was followed by

two years in Sheffield where Geoffrey gained experience in general and paediatric surgery, spending some time with Bob Zachery, at that time one of only eleven designated Specialist Paediatric Surgeons in Great Britain.

Geoffrey, Jenefer and their two children returned to New Zealand in 1959 and the family was completed with the birth of Stephen 1959, Rodney 1961 and Julie, adopted in 1964. He set up practice in Hamilton, the first surgeon in the region to do so without doing any general practice, and experienced a rather a lean introduction into consulting practice until 1961, when he was appointed to a 3/10th part-time position at Waikato Hospital as “Visiting Assistant Casualty and Outpatient Surgeon.”  From this base he joined the Lomas team with Archie Badger.  Geoffrey became a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1960.  Working part-time in private practice, he initially consulted from rooms in Wesley Chambers and then later in Collingwood Street, with surgery provided at Braemar Hospital.  Despite working long hours each day, he endeavoured to get home in the evenings for dinner with the family.  To his children, the sound of his key in the front door was one of the happiest times of their childhoods.

Initially, Geoffrey, like all general surgeons, covered all surgical specialties except orthopaedic surgery and obstetrics and gynaecology.  He took a special interest in paediatric and neonatal surgery and for a while managed most of that work in Waikato.  However, with the advent of the “Neonatal/Paediatric Surgeon” that part of his work vanished. Soon after a “Plastic Surgeon” (including burns) was appointed and another segment of work dropped away.  In the mid 70s gastric ulcers were a major problem and a new sophisticated operation was being reported from Leeds. Geoffrey decided from his reading that he should start doing this new procedure of “Highly Selective Vagotomy”.  Possibly the only one doing it in NZ initially, this procedure proved to be a great advance over anything else available at that time.  But with introduction of Tagamet/Losec the problem of peptic ulcers vanished overnight. Yet another area of interest and great skill was removed from his tool-box.  As the surgical solution to the peptic ulcer became redundant Obesity Surgery took its place and Geoffrey was one of the pioneer surgeons in stomach bypass surgery. As there was very little documented information available at the time and, having to “experiment“ somewhat, in terms of distances etc., Geoffrey documented all aspects of his surgery very carefully and included extensive follow up. This resulted in numerous publications and conference presentations. Then along came the specialist “Obesity surgeon” and another area of interest was severely reduced!

Geoffrey played a role in the establishment of a Waikato Hospital Postgraduate Medical Committee and the development of an active postgraduate programme in the early 1960’s.  He later became head of the Waikato Department of Surgery.  He was an appointed member of the 1971 Minister of Education’s Committee on nursing education set up to review a report by Dr Helen Carpenter, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto (published Feb.1971). Although the Committee subsequently recommended, in the Carpenter Report, that nursing education take place in educational institutions rather than in hospitals, Geoffrey was strongly opposed to the proposed move to Technical Institutes, and wrote a minority report, subsequently often cited.  With his early involvement in private surgical practice, he was committed to the development of the Braemar Hospital Trust and its rebuilding programme, serving a period as its chair. He was long-term member of the Hamilton Officers' Club, proudly retaining involvement until the final couple of years of his life.

Geoffrey never lost his interest in the universe.  He became an active member of the Hamilton Astronomical Society, serving as President and Patron, and was often quoted in the Waikato Times opining on meteorites and unusual sights to watch for in the night sky above Hamilton.  In the mid-1990s Geoffrey was instrumental in the fundraising and building at Rotokauri one of New Zealand's largest telescopes, a 61cm Nasmyth-Cassegrain with a polar mount and 11-metre dome.  Sceptical about the Big Bang Theory he gradually developed explanations for an alternative view, which he called the Infinite Non-Expanding Universe Theory.  In 2000 he presented a paper to the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand on alternatives to the Big Bang Theory, largely relating to Compton Red Shifting.

In the early 1960s Geoffrey and Jenefer, deciding skiing would be a great family activity, joined the Christiania Ski Club on Mt Ruapehu.  Another family love affair involved the family bach built at Waihi Beach.  Travel was a passion and, once the children had left home, the couple travelled extensively.  Geoffrey enjoyed golf and played bridge well into his 90s.  In 2011, after Jenefer had two successful operations for her cataracts, Geoffrey followed suit. Unfortunately, his operations did not have the same positive results and his eyesight was further impaired.  With the help of carers, Jenefer and Geoffrey were able to stay at their River Road home (their only home following their return to New Zealand from the UK) until their move to Possum Bourne Retirement Village in May 2018 where they were closer to family. They died within months of one another.

Geoffrey Wynne-Jones, husband of the late Jenefer; is greatly missed by his children, Peter, Jeremy, Stephen, Rodney, and Julie and 11 grandchildren.

This obituary is based upon that prepared by Charles Riddle and published on Stuff Nov 9 2019, with subsequent contributions by Dean Williams CBE, FRCS, FRACS, Peter Rothwell MNZM, FRACP and members of the Wynne-Jones family.