SAMJ 8982

Dr Mary Gordon

To the Editor: We are researching and writing a book on my late aunt, Dr Mary Gordon. When she immigrated to South Africa (SA) from England in 1917, she became the first woman doctor to be appointed to Johannesburg Hospital. She was later to establish a large private practice in Johannesburg while also teaching at the then newly founded medical school at the University of the Witwaters­rand, where she remained one of the members of staff until 1946.

During World War II Dr Gordon enlisted in the South African Medical Corps, serving as the Officer Commanding, Medical Division, Cottesloe Military Hospital, and then as a physician at No. 110 Military Hospital, Roberts Heights (Voortrekkerhoogte), where she was promoted to major. After her discharge from the army in 1946 she went to Palestine, where she served in various medical capacities.

Dr Gordon returned to SA in 1958 and established a clinic for children at the Bluegill Waters farm school, one of the first of its kind in the country, while also serving as a medical officer at the Tladi and Senoane children’s clinics, Soweto, and heading the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Tara Hospital. She practised until she died in the very week of her retirement at the age of 80, in 1971.

During her long and distinguished career as a pioneering woman doctor in SA, Dr Gordon interacted with many across her profession and in the broader community. We would very much appreciate hearing from anyone who is willing to share their memories of her, and such contributions will no doubt significantly enhance the telling of the story of this remarkable woman.

Jack Metz

Melbourne, Australia

S Afr Med J 2014;104(11):721. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8982

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