Stan Goulston 1915 - 2011

Stan Goulston

Stan Goulston

Stan Goulston spent his working life as a highly respected gastroenterologist and, with Sir William Morrow, set up the first specialist gastroenterology unit in Australia, at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

In 1994, after retiring from active clinical practice at 79, he promptly started another career. Returning to the University of Sydney, he studied poetry and literature relating to patient care and was awarded a masters degree in philosophy in 1996.

He pioneered the teaching of medical humanities in Australia and his term on literature and poetry in medicine was vastly over-subscribed.
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His first poem, written when he was 17, had been a love poem to Jean Danglow, later his wife. In 2007, his book Poetry for Pleasure was published. The last poem in the book was Life Continues after Ninety.

Stanley Jack Marcus Goulston was born in Sydney on July 26, 1915, the youngest of four children to John Goulston and his wife, Flora (nee Wolff). Flora died three weeks after Stan's birth and John later remarried and had two more children. Although John had left school at 12, he was determined to give his children a good education and his three sons studied medicine. Eric became a surgeon, Roy a GP and Stan a physician. They all served overseas in World War II and remained close throughout their lives.

Stan went to Sydney Grammar School and took first-class honours in English in his Leaving Certificate in 1931.

He went on to the University of Sydney, where he was awarded a blue for hockey and graduated with honours in medicine in 1939. He then started an internship at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, enlisted in the AIF and married Jean.

During World War II, Goulston became the regimental medical officer to the 2/1st Pioneer Battalion and went to the Middle East with the 6th Division. After serving in Palestine and Egypt, his battalion was sent to Libya, where it endured the eight-month siege of Tobruk in 1941. Goulston wrote, ''The enemies were Germans, flies, fleas, heat and dust storms''.

His first medical article, published in The Medical Journal of Australia in 1942, described his regimental aid post as a cave under a very old fig tree near an ancient Jewish cemetery on the perimeter of Tobruk. Goulston was twice mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the Military Cross but he was more proud of his ''Tobruk Rat'' medal, made from scraps of metal from German planes and artillery by men from his battalion.

He returned in 1942 and served for 14 months in Darwin before being posted to London as senior medical officer in the army staff (1944 to 1946).

Joined, at last, by Jean, he worked as senior medical registrar to Professor Sheila Sherlock at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London and obtained his fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians.

Back again in Australia in 1947, Goulston was appointed honorary physician at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and started consultant practice as a general physician and gastroenterologist. He had joined an outstanding group of clinicians, largely ex-servicemen, and they established the hospital as a leading educational institution.

Goulston worked at the hospital for 33 years, leaving in 1980, but continued in clinical practice until he was 79. He was also foundation honorary secretary of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia for four years and later elected president.

As well, he was a fine teacher and inspired countless medical students and young doctors. He published 34 research papers, many of them seminal. He was on the federal council of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians for eight years, was a censor (examiner) for nine years, censor-in-chief for five years and elected president in 1974.

Goulston served on the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee for 15 years and was chairman from 1976 to 1982, missing only two meetings in this time. Beginning in 1947, he was involved in the work of Legacy NSW for decades and was eventually NSW president.

Stan Goulston is survived by his daughters Diana, Wendy, Sue and Sadhana, ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Jean died in 2005.

Kerry Goulston
By permission of the Sydney Morning Herald