Professor John Fitzpatrick 1948-2014
A Life in the Fast Lane
Wednesday morning, the 14th May 2014, John M Fitzpatrick passed away aged 65. He left this life the way he lived it, in the fast lane. Taken ill at home in his own gym, where he was honing his fitness with his personal trainer, he was rushed by ambulance to hospital, where he died within hours from a massive subarachnoid haemorrhage. This blog in the BJUI, the journal he edited, championed and loved so very much, is a celebration of his life, and an opportunity for those who knew him to post their own special memory of him, and to contribute a tribute to one of the truly great international characters of urology.
John’s career was an illustrious one. He trained in Dublin, and then in London, where for a time he lived in a house in fashionable Chelsea, just off the King’s Road. He worked with the “greats” of British urology: John Wickham, Richard Turner-Warwick and John Blandy and was always positive and enthusiastic about his time at the famous St Peter’s Hospitals and the Institute of Urology.
Returning to his beloved Dublin, in 1986, aged 38, he successfully applied for the post of Professor of Surgery and proceeded to build up an outstanding department of urology and latterly, with the assistance of the wonderful Bill Watson, created a quite exceptional research unit. He was most proud of his international standing as possibly the world’s best-known urologist (apologies to Dr Patrick Walsh!). He certainly was the most travelled, clocking up untold millions of Air Miles in his favourite seat 2A in the British Airways First Class cabin, and a welcome guest wherever he arrived.
Things, as Richard Turner-Warwick was fond of saying, don’t just happen; they have to be made to happen. Among other things, John did sterling work in helping Bill Hendry and me to create The Urology Foundation (TUF) in 1994, by negotiating £250,000 grants from BAUS and the BJUI. He did a magnificent job as Chairman of the Scientific Committee, Trustee and Patron to help us create a thriving charity. TUF continues to do amazing work to support training and research in urology in the UK and Ireland. He adored being President of BAUS, St Peter’s medal winner and visiting professor to almost 100 academic institutions in North America.
I have too many positive memories of John to regale you with here. Climbing Kilimanjaro (he never tired of reminding me that he reached the summit well before me), trekking in Nepal, cycling in Sicily, Malawi and Madagascar. John was always “up for it”. Another boast of his was that he never misjudged people; but everywhere he went he made friends, took interest in everyone he met and communicated in his own unique, eloquent and quintessentially Irish style.
Sadly, none of us had the opportunity to say goodbye to John. He slipped away from this life, just as he did from so many international meetings, a little early, anxious to move on to the next challenge. My own particular farewell was a few weeks ago at a TUF dinner at the famous and historic Vintner’s Hall in London, where John was in his element talking to Jane MacQuitty, wine correspondent of the Times, about the merits and demerits of a variety of fine wines. With a strange prescience, he told me as he left for the airport the next day that he had enjoyed every moment of his life as a surgeon, scientist and communicator, and that always he really loved the very special world of urology.
Like me, John loved Shakespeare, so I will finish this blog with an apposite quote from the Bard:
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, “this was a man!”
When comes such another?
Farewell loyal friend Fitzy, we loved you and we will miss you badly.
Roger Kirby, The Prostate Centre, London
An interview with John M. Fitzpatrick
BJUI December 2012; Volume 110, Issue 11
Click here to see a short video on the challenges the TUF cyclists in India faced http://trendsinmenshealth.com/video/tuf-cycle-india-2016/