Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Dr John Fitzsimmons, MB BCh BAO (died 25 April 2021, aged 92)


Obituary submitted by former colleague and friend, Brian Lowry

John was born in Portrush and travelled daily by bus to attend Coleraine Academical Institution before entering Queen's, where he graduated MB BCh BAO in 1953. He subsequently added further qualifications - DCH in 1956; MRCP Ed in 1964 and FRCP Ed in 1968.


His postgraduate career included House Officer posts in the Royal Victoria Hospital and Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children (RBHSC) followed by Senior House Officer / Registrar and Senior Registrar posts in Manchester, Hull, Scarborough and Aberdeen before becoming a Consultant in Paediatrics in Nottingham in 1965. While there he recognised the need for genetic counselling clinics and went to the USA to observe such entities. He subsequently founded the Genetics Clinic at the Nottingham City Hospital which was the first to serve the East Midlands. He was active in the British Human Genetics Society and contributed to the literature on the subject. He retired in 1991.

He married Elisabeth (Beth) née Copley, whom he met while she was completing her RSCN in Manchester, in 1957. They had four children; Lesley Jane (deceased), Kathryn, Stephen and Jennifer. As a family they holidayed in Europe and subsequently bought property in France where he and Beth lived for 23 years before returning to England. He loved France and learned the language. They also enjoyed many holidays, not only in Europe but also the Middle East, South East Asia and North Africa. He was a cheerful person, full of life and loved meeting people and was able to understand patients and their family’s needs. He loved his family and had a very successful marriage of 63 years. He had one sister. He died in 2021 after a battle with prostate cancer which metastasized to his spine.

On a personal note I first met him in 1955 when he was a house officer at RBHSC where I was doing a month of residency as a medical student. We met later in genetics and exchanged jobs for a month in 1984 where I did his job in Nottingham and he did mine in Calgary. There was reciprocal registration in those days which made it very easy and I believe each of us fitted in to our temporary work. He and Beth became great friends of mine and I visited them in France and Nottingham.


He will be missed.


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