Sue Wareham Med J Aust 2017; 207 (7): 284. || doi: 10.5694/mja17.00470
Bryan Furnass was a general physician in the finest tradition; he saw the human body as a whole rather than as a collection of systems. He saw human health as inseparable from the health of our planet. Born Stanley Bryan Furnass on 16 September 1927, in Manchester, England, Bryan was educated at Manchester Grammar School, followed by a scholarship to Oxford University Medical School and entry to its oldest college, Merton College. After graduation in 1949, he completed post-graduate studies at Middlesex Hospital, where he met his future wife Anne who was nursing there. Compulsory national service with the Royal Army Medical Corps took Bryan to Sierra Leone for 2 years, specialising in tropical medicine. One of the defining moments in Bryan’s environmental awareness was the Great Smog of 1952 in London, which killed about 4000 people in December alone, and which was also a factor in Bryan and Anne’s decision to move to Australia. His first Australian jobs were as a physician in Goulburn, New South Wales, and then Canberra, before becoming the foundation director of the Australian National University Health Service, where Bryan furthered his developing passion for preventive medicine. He remained there for 25 years until his retirement in 1991. Bryan was a prolific writer and contributed to many publications and conference proceedings, particularly on environmental health and its importance. His encouragement to younger doctors to see health in its full context of threats to our planet provided a powerful example of professional leadership. An important part of this leadership example was his advocacy for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. In 1994, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for “his service to health education and promotion”. Bryan was a dear friend to many and a greatly respected colleague. He died on 4 March 2017 and is survived by his wife Anne; his children Jo, Lucy, Sophie, Felicity and David; and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.