Peter William Harold Woodruff AM
1 December 1941 - 31 January 2014
Peter William Harold Woodruff lived his life with an energy and commitment few of us could muster.
Peter was the son of Dr Philip and Lyndsay Woodruff. After spending some of his early childhood in Mackay while his father served in the war, Peter and his family grew up in Melbourne and Adelaide.
He was educated at Adelaide's Prince Alfred College and was a good student and an athlete. He was a member of the school's First VIII rowing team, the First XVIII Australian rules team and the First XI cricket team. After school Peter studied medicine at the University of Adelaide and graduated in 1966. The following year he married Maria Catherine Van Zyl.
Peter's career was a progression of achievements. From student to country doctor, to surgeon, to a leader of his profession and finally to roles that involved training of surgeons and the assessment and improvement of surgical and professional standards. His was a complete professional life.
Peter and Maria moved to Mt Isa, where Peter worked in the hospital and performed locums for the Flying Doctor Service. He claimed to have learnt much during his time in Mt Isa, where he was presented with a variety of work as one of few doctors in a regional centre.
The couple, now with a newborn daughter Samantha, moved to Scotland where Peter undertook surgical training at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He obtained his fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Scotland in 1971 in the specialty of general surgery and was awarded Master of Surgery from Aberdeen University in 1974. He continued his training as a surgical fellow at the 5th Harvard Surgical Service, Boston City Hospital in Massachusetts, US.
Two more children were born in Scotland, Nicholas in Edinburgh and Abigail in Aberdeen. The family then returned to Australia.
Peter was appointed senior lecturer in surgery at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, as a general surgeon with a special interest in vascular surgery. He was involved in the then developing field of renal transplantation surgery, an area of interest that continued throughout his surgical career.
In 1977 he moved to Princess Alexandra Hospital to participate in the development of a specialist vascular unit, later becoming director of vascular surgery.
There followed many years as a busy and successful surgeon. He was highly regarded and managed well so many aspects of a broad career.
The characteristics so strong in Peter as a man equipped him well as a surgeon: attention to detail, dogged persistence, calmness under pressure, good judgment the ability to lead, dedication to doing things the right way and an understanding and reassuring manner with patients and their families.
As Peter became a more senior member of the profession he served as president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Vascular Surgeons.
In 1987 he was appointed Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Queensland.
He was elected to the Council of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1997, having been president of the Queensland State Committee. He served the College with distinction, becoming honorary treasurer and vice-president.
He cherished his work at the College and the colleagues with whom he worked. Peter was inducted into the College's Court of Honour in recognition of his services.
He was a councillor, treasurer and president of the Australian Association of Surgeons and the AMA elected him to its Roll of Fellows. He also served a chairman of the Medical Board of Queensland.
Later, of particular note, was Peter's contribution to health care standards. Peter's interest in aviation and its approach to safety informed him in his work to increase awareness of methodical and, where possible, empirical approach to everyday practice of surgery.
He became president of the Australian Council of Health Care Standards and was a member of the International Society for Quality of Health Care.
He also had a distinguished military career as a Wing Commander 23 Squadron, RAAF at Amberley. He undertook military duties in Bougainville, Singapore, Tindal, Richmond and Edinburgh.
In 2013 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for significant service to medicine.
Peter was an enthusiast. He loved boating and was good at it. He competed in seven Sydney to Hobart yacht races and represented Australia in the Sardinia Cup. He also loved flying and was a qualified commercial pilot.
Peter is survived by his wife Maria, daughters Samantha and Abigail, son Nicholas and the nine grandchildren.
Brisbane Courier Mail 19 February 2014