Anthony (Tony) William Pierre FRACS
General Surgeon 
1 August 1941 – 11 November 2018  

Tony was born in Christchurch, the elder son of William Pierre, a school principal, and Florence (nee Edwards) also a school-teacher.  He had an older sister, Anne, and brother, Richard.  Tony commenced his schooling at Hornby Primary School and subsequently attended both Primary and Secondary Divisions of Geraldine District High School where his father was the Principal. Tony’s kindness, compassion and calming touch were recognised at an early age. He was the only person Tigger, the family cat, trusted to remove embedded grass seeds that could cause ear infections.  

After completing his intermediate year at Canterbury University, Tony gained entry to Otago Medical School completing his MB ChB in 1967. This period was noteworthy for his marriage in 1964 to ulcie (nee Harris), a hairdresser.  House surgeon years were spent at Kew Hospital, Invercargill, where stimulated to follow a surgical career, he remained a further two years as a surgical registrar. In Invercargill Tony developed a longstanding friendship with John MacDonald who was simultaneously commencing a career in surgery. As passing the formidable Primary Examination was an essential prerequisite for a career in surgery, Tony returned to Medical School in 1971 as an Anatomy Demonstrator.  With the Primary safely negotiated, Tony and Dulcie returned to Invercargill for a further two years, during which Tony gained his FRACS. 

In 1974 Tony and Dulcie, with three children, Timothy, Christopher and David, headed off to London. Over the next two years Tony worked at the Hammersmith and King George V Hospitals gaining increasing experience in general surgery.  This period came to an abrupt conclusion at the end of 1975 when Tony was offered a position as Surgeon at Balclutha Hospital in South Otago and the family returned to New Zealand.   In this role Tony was a true general surgeon, coping with “surgery in breadth” – comprising the range of general surgery together with orthopaedics, gynaecology, caesarean sections, and some ENT. Regular interaction with visiting surgeons from Dunedin assisted in the maintenance of this broad range of knowledge and skill as surgery became increasingly subspecialised.   He was an early and skilled exponent of laparoscopic surgery.  Tony remained in this position for the next twenty years, taking the role of Surgeon Superintendent of the hospital following the retirement of his surgical colleague, Mr Tom Miller.

When Balclutha Hospital was closed in 1996, in common with several other smaller provincial hospitals under the health reforms at that time, Tony was greatly disappointed but found a new position at Ashburton Hospital where he was able to work alongside John MacDonald once more. Together with Phil Godfrey, this team of three ‘surgeons in general’ provided a wide range of surgical care for the mid-Canterbury population, until Tony retired from clinical practice in 2009.  John described Tony as a good reliable colleague, who was very competent over a wide range of surgery. Tony was always committed to the well-being of his patients, willingly spending time with them outside of normal hospital routines after major surgery.  

Of a reserved nature, Tony was strongly committed to his family, surgery and a relatively small circle of close friends.  In his earlier years Tony produced several skilfully executed water colour paintings of sailing, steam powered and motor ships. Having worked in the transport industry as a student, he retained a lifetime passion for big trucks and machines of all types. A keen motorcyclist, Tony was an enthusiastic rider of a Yamaha 1200, and with a group of fellow-enthusiasts (which included Dulcie for many years), enjoyed regular excursions on his bike.  He was also a keen modeller, building several carefully crafted boats, model aircraft, and creating a large model railway.

Following retirement Tony began to show signs of Alzheimer’s Disease and slowly deteriorated. Articulating his thoughts became difficult. However, the illness did not change his personality, his kind and gentle nature, or take away his lively sense of humour and the twinkle in his eye. He retained his empathy and a strong interest in dogs and cats.   He was cared for by Dulcie until his disability necessitated more extensive assistance, which was provided at Cashmere View Hospital in Christchurch.  

Tony is survived by and greatly missed by his wife, Dulcie, children Tim, Chris and David, seven grandchildren and his sister Anne and brother Richard. 


This obituary was prepared by Allan Panting with the assistance of Dulcie Pierre, Tony’s sister Anne and Brother Richard, and Mr John MacDonald FRACS.