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Parker, Sir Douglas William (1900–1988)

by David Dilger

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Sir Douglas William Leigh Parker (1900-1988), orthopaedic surgeon, was born on 12 July 1900 at Mosman, Sydney, second child of William Parker, a milling engineer from England, and his New South Wales-born wife Mildred Anne Mabel, née Mackie.  Douglas attended Fort Street Boys’ High School and studied medicine at the University of Sydney (MB, Ch.M., 1923), while residing in St Andrew’s College.  After a term as resident medical officer at Royal North Shore Hospital, he travelled to England and worked as a house surgeon at Rochdale, Lancashire, in 1924-25, and qualified (1925) as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.  He gained experience in general practice at Gawler, South Australia, before returning to England in 1929.  Locum house surgeon at the Royal Southern Hospital, Liverpool, for three months, he graduated M.Ch.Orth. (1930) from the University of Liverpool.  In 1930-32 he was house surgeon at Shropshire Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry.

Back in Australia, on 17 June 1933 at All Saints Church, Hobart, Parker married with Anglican rites Hilary Madeleine Secretan, a physiotherapist from England.  He combined general practice at New Norfolk, Tasmania, with an appointment as orthopaedic surgeon at (Royal) Hobart Hospital, becoming a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1935.  In July 1936 he was promoted to surgeon superintendent at the hospital.  He was active in the Tasmanian Society for the Care of Crippled Children, undertaking treatment and after-care of poliomyelitis patients; in 1936 he helped to set up a clinic in Hobart to use therapies promoted by Sister Elizabeth Kenny.

In January 1941 Parker was appointed a major, Australian Army Medical Corps, Australian Imperial Force, and from February served in the Middle East with the 2/9th Australian General Hospital.  In January 1942 he was invalided home to Tasmania.  He transferred to the Citizen Military Forces and worked in the 111th AGH, Campbell Town, until he was demobilised in March 1946.

Parker became consulting orthopaedist (from 1954 director of orthopaedic services) in the State Department of Health in 1946.  In addition, he was visiting orthopaedic surgeon to the Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart.  Colleagues considered that he made 'immense contributions to the field of rehabilitation in Tasmania' and that he was 'a pioneer of orthopaedic surgery in Australia'.  Parker was also involved in the treatment of tuberculosis patients.  He was appointed OBE in 1954.  A member (1950-72) of the University of Tasmania council, he advocated the founding of a medical school, which opened in 1966.  In 1964 he was president of the Australian Orthopaedic Association; he was elected an honorary member in 1974.  He was active in the Hobart Legacy Club over a long period.

He retired in 1965; knighted the next year, Parker was described as 'a man of modest stature but great activity'.  The Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre was established at New Town in 1980.  Survived by his wife and their two sons and daughter, Sir Douglas died on 2 February 1988 at Nubeena, Tasmania, and was buried in the Hobart regional lawn cemetery, Kingston.

Select Bibliography

  • W. G. Rimmer, Portrait of a Hospital (1981)
  • H. Barry, Orthopaedics in Australia (1983)
  • A. Killalea, The Great Scourge (1995)
  • Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (British volume), vol 48B, no 4, 1966, p 849
  • Mercury (Hobart), 25 October 1999, p 38
  • B833, item TX2141, and B884, item T502 (National Archives of Australia)

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

David Dilger, 'Parker, Sir Douglas William (1900–1988)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/parker-sir-douglas-william-15018/text26214, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 25 August 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

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