FITCHETT, Frank Williamson
Professor of clinical medicine and therapeutics.
Commonly known as Francis Wiremu Brian, Dr Fitchett was born in Dunedin on 6 July 1870, the eldest son of Alfred Robertson Fitchett, Dean of Dunedin. He was educated at the Otago Boys' High School and at Christ's College, Christchurch. He received his early medical education at the Otago University Medical School and his later training in the Edinburgh Medical School, graduating in 1895. He served as a resident medical officer in the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, and later as a civil surgeon during the South African War. He returned to Dunedin in 1902 and commenced general practice. In 1903 he married Gertrude Rattray. In 1905 he joined the honorary staff of the Dunedin Hospital and was a lecturer in clinical medicine in the Medical School. He secured his M.D., Edinburgh, in 1908, with a thesis on tutin. In 1911 Dr Fitchett was appointed lecturer in materia medica, and in 1920 professor of clinical medicine and therapeutics (part time), a position which he held until his retirement in 1939. In 1925 he was elected a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London and in 1937 a fellow of the same college. In 1928 Professor Fitchett was appointed chairman of a commission to investigate tuberculosis in New Zealand.
Professor Fitchett was a highly efficient practical physician, with a powerful and penetrating intellect. He was a man of polished speech and immaculate attire, with a kind heart frequently veiled under a brusqueness of manner and a sarcasm for which he was notorious. His interests were wide and ranged from books, music, and poetry – at one time he learnt a sonnet of Shakespeare every day – to fishing and rugby football, birds, and flowers. Professor Fitchett was a personality of great charm, who remains a legend to his former students.
On 2 September 1903, at St. Matthew's Church, Stafford Street, Dunedin, Fitchett married Gertrude Vivian, daughter of James Rattray, a Dunedin merchant, and by her he had one son and one daughter. He died at Stafford Private Hospital in Dunedin on 5 November 1951.
by Charles Ernest Hercus, KT., D.S.O., O.B.E., U.D., M.B. CH.B.(N.Z.), M.D., D.P.H., B.D.S., F.R.C.P., F.R.A.C.P., F.R.A.C.S., Emeritus Professor, University of Otago.
- Otago Daily Times, 6 Nov 1951 (Obit).