Peter Francis Anderson
1925 - 2014
Distinguished St Vincent's ophthalmic surgeon Dr Peter Anderson passed away on 8 May 2014, aged 88. Peter was a member of the St Vincent's department of ophthalmology since 1957 and was still practising on a part-time basis, seeing patients three weeks before he died.
Peter will be remembered as a very practical, friendly and forthright ophthalmologist. He cared very much about his patients and they cared about him. He was a devoted and innovative ophthalmic surgeon, particularly in corneal and cataract surgery. Peter specialised in corneal transplantation surgery in the 1960s and was also an early advocate of intraocular lenses for cataract surgery, implanting the second intraocular lens in Australia at St Vincent's Hospital. He retired from surgical practice in the early 1990s (not making the transition to phacoemulsification - Peter was at a departmental meeting when phacoemulsification was being discussed and, on being told that you Ohave to use both hands and both feet simultaneously during the procedure, he proclaimed in his characteristic deep gruff voice "I'm not a bloody monkey!") but continued consultations and seeing patients on a part-time basis at St Vincent's Clinic, as well as his practices in Hornsby and Macquarie St. He was active in any meeting and made his views plain, always in a friendly and forceful manner.
Peter was born at Burwood in 1925, the third in a family of four children. He went to school at Santa Sabina in Strathfield and then to Riverview as a boarder. He enjoyed his school years, loved his sport (including handball and swimming) and even repeated his final year so that he could play in the 1st XI cricket team, in which they were beaten outright in every game. Peter finished high school in 1942, went to Sydney University to study Arts and enrolled in the Royal Australian Air Force in April 1944. He trained as a radio telephony operator and spent the remainder of the war in New Guinea.
He started Medicine in 1946, and after graduating was a resident at Lewisham Hospital and then eye registrar at St Vincent's from 1954 to 1956. He obtained his Diploma of Ophthalmology at Sydney University in 1956 and was awarded the Cedric Cohen Memorial Prize for the best results in the Diploma. His particular field of expertise was cataract surgery, corneal grafting, contact lenses and general ophthalmology. In 1964 he spent six months overseas in London, France, New York and San Francisco studying corneal graft surgery with the best surgeons of the day. He also made regular trips to India, performing sight saving surgery at numerous eye camps. This started in 1974 when he went to Bihar in India to help with an eye camp and subsequently returned in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1984 and 1990 to teach corneal grafting and he would take corneas for this purpose. Peter was made a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists in 1976 and a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons in 1978.
In 1984 Peter began consulting in medicolegal work and a couple of years later became a member of the Medico Legal Society. He wrote articles on contact lenses in theAustralian Medical Journaland on complications of corneal grafting in theAustralian Journal of Ophthalmology.
Peter was a keen sportsman - an excellent skier in his younger days (winning a cross-country race from Charlotte's Pass to Thredbo) and surfed all his life, particularly from the family holiday home on the NSW central coast. He was also an excellent snooker player and many an afternoon found him playing snooker at the University Club in Sydney after a morning's consultations. Later in life he took up golf with a passion. On the back cover of the booklet at his funeral was a typical Peter quote - "Golf is a bit like life - one damn thing after the other, but hope springs eternal for a good score one day" This epitomises much of his character - down to earth, practical and always maintaining a certain optimism and humility.
Peter had a wonderful marriage to Joy for over 60 years and was farewelled by Joy, their seven children and many grandchildren together with numerous colleagues, friends and patients at a moving funeral at St Mary's Church in North Sydney. He will be long remembered and sorely missed.
Obituary kindly provided by Dr John Kennedy