Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Graham McNeice (died on 9 May 2017)
 
Obituary kindly provided by Graham's family
 
Graham was born in Larne, Northern Ireland on 27 March 1931, the fourth of seven children born to parents James McNeice and Jane Graham.
Graham grew up in Larne, the only boy in a family of girls: Jean, Isa, Peggy, Irene, Phyllis and Doris. An able student, he attended Larne Grammar school and later studied medicine at Queens University, Belfast. Graham was a talented sportsman who played rugby for several teams, including Dungannon in 1957. He also played schoolboy representative soccer and tennis for Queen's University.
 
On graduating medical school in 1955, Graham signed up with the Colonial Service and embarked on the first of two tours of Nigeria, West Africa. He initially spent two months in Kano, learning about tropical medicine. He was then sent to Azare in the north of the country, where he was the sole medical doctor to thousands of people spread over a vast area with no power or running water. Graham was a very young man practising medicine among people who were stoical and patient. The sufferings of young women in obstructed labour and the horrific injuries of people of all ages from accidents were the situations he dealt with in his first year as a fully qualified doctor. Once a group of school children were involved in a bus accident and had their hands badly injured. Graham operated all day, all night and all the following day to repair the damaged ligaments. As time went on, patients would show their appreciation in many ways, including taking him on a warthog hunt, where an angry mother warthog charged the group. Graham, who was not the fastest runner in other circumstances, managed to out-run her and scale a tree at lightning speed. Other animal tales from this time included a snake coiled up in the drop toilet and being charged by a lion. Again, luckily, a tree was nearby.
 
In 1957 he returned to Northern Ireland to study obstetrics at Dungannon Hospital. It was during this time he became engaged to Dorothea Montgomery, whom he married in Derry on 11 January 1958.
 
Graham then embarked on his second tour, this time to Yola, Nigeria, where he was again the sole medical doctor for the hospital and the district. Not only did Graham approach this challenge with his characteristic skill, dedication and quiet determination, he also set up a wood-turning workshop for the production of prosthetic limbs and a garden for the regular supply of fresh produce to the hospital kitchen. Dorothea joined him during this tour, and remembers the nights when sleeping mats were taken outside because of the heat and they could hear lions roaring in the bush. Graham once travelled 60 miles to perform a successful emergency appendectomy on a young boy out on holiday from boarding school in England. The makeshift surgery was set up on board a boat. Another morning he was surprised by some commotion in the queue at the surgery back in Yola. His translator Ferdinand explained that a man whose arm had been mauled by a lion the night before was now patiently waiting in the queue for medical attention. When Graham hastened to attend to him, he was surprised to see the lion’s head under the man’s other arm.
 
In August 1959 Graham and Dorothea returned to Larne, where their first son, Jeremy, was born in November of that year. Fiona followed in April 1961 and David in March 1964. During these years and up until 1975, Graham was in general practice in Larne. Much loved by his patients for his dedication, compassion, diagnostic skill and clinical ability, Graham worked all hours, often being met by a farmer on a tractor to visit a snow-bound patient who lived in the hills around Larne.
 
The family home was ‘Ransevyn’ on the Roddens in Larne, where at holiday time three little Montgomery cousins often joined them. Always surrounded by dogs, and then ponies, Graham decided a little more space was needed, and the farm at Altilevelly, shared with the Robinson family of cousins, was purchased. The grass there was soon too much for the ponies, so cattle and sheep were added in due course. Graham loved everything about the farm: the physical work, the repairing of buildings and machinery, the growing of things and the feeling of getting back to the land.
 
Meanwhile the nature of general practice was changing, and small practices were merging and becoming centralised. Graham decided to take the position of full-time Senior Medical Officer at the Maze, Crumlin Road and Magilligen prisons.
 
But the call to run his own practice was still strong, and this, combined with Graham’s growing love of farming, meant that when he saw an advertisement for the Rainbow/Jeparit practice in the British Medical Journal, the decision to emigrate to Australia was made. The family arrived in Rainbow, Victoria, in April of 1976, where they were warmly welcomed by the community. Graham ran the Rainbow/Jeparit practice for six years. From surgeries in both towns, he looked after the health of patients across the Rainbow/Jeparit area, made house calls, performed minor surgery, delivered many, many babies and even ran occasional impromptu vet clinics on the hospital verandah. The family lived in Rainbow, where all three children attended school, and the whole family spent many (hard working) leisure hours on their farm on the Rainbow-Jeparit road during this period. Graham introduced Suffolk sheep and was the first to grow lupins in the Rainbow area. His love of learning continued with the gaining of his pilot’s licence, navigation qualifications, boat captain’s licence and wool-classing certificate.
 
1982 brought another change, as Graham decided to buy a wool-producing farm near Grassdale in the Western District. By this time the children had left home, and Dorothea and Graham ran the farm while doing the weekly commute to Melbourne and while Graham worked for four years as the Chief Medical Officer at Pentridge Prison. Stints as Medical Director at both the Hamilton and Portland Hospitals followed, prior to his retirement in 2001.
 
Of all the various aspects of his medical practice, Graham most enjoyed obstetrics. He never regretted doing medicine. Graham had wide and varied interests and quite incredible strength and stamina. His vast capacity for work, his drive, determination and energy were always apparent, whether it was sailing in the Whitsundays or around Portland; doing his woodwork, upholstery and French polishing; running the farm and producing a record-breaking price for a wool clip; renovating the 1930’s farmhouse at Grassdale; tending to the large garden or lovingly caring for Dorothea’s 1967 red MG. Even after his retirement, in his mid-seventies, Graham returned to general practice in Rainbow to help out until a new doctor could be appointed. Every year he and Dorothea returned to their beloved Ireland in order to ‘mess about in boats’ on the river Shannon or Lough Erne. Here they were often joined by family for many memorable holidays.
 
Graham died in Rainbow Hospital on 9 May 2017. His family would like to pay tribute to the capable, compassionate care provided by the staff at the Rainbow Hospital and to thank them for the dignity, respect, kindness and attention to detail shown in the three weeks of Graham’s stay.
 
Graham is survived by his wife Dorothea, sisters Irene and Doris, son and daughter-in-law Jeremy and Lisa, daughter and son-in-law Fiona and Gus Weir, son and daughter-in-law David and Jennifer, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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