In Memoriam

Uncle Hugh

Uncle Hugh was not my uncle; he was my Godfather and an occasional though memorable presence in my life. Hugh McClure MB.ChB. was a medical doctor and a Scot. I knew him only during the time that I was a small boy because, I remember, he always spoke to me through a hand puppet who was a monkey from West Africa named Mgumbo. Uncle Hugh was a medical missionary who worked for the Church Missionary Society in the British colony of Sierra Leone.

My Uncle Dave

Uncle Dave was the educated person in the family having attended Ton Sec (Ton-yr-Efail Secondary School) until he was 16. He would know about good Welsh, the language of poetry and song, rather than the argot of homes, streets, shops and mines. Most Welsh speakers of Granny’s generation could neither read nor write Welsh because an English program, known as the Welsh Not (or Knot), had vigorously worked against the native language from the mid-1800s.

My Auntie Lena

Most Welsh people have a lot of Davids in their family. Uncle Dai Middleton was a favorite of mine. He was married to my Auntie Lena. My Auntie Lena was the second child and eldest girl in a family of seven children. Barely a year in age separated Lena from my Mam, and, as they had compatible personalities, they were great pals.


Meg (Margaret) Brimlow was our dear friend for over 30 years. She died in February this year at the age of 95. She would never ever admit her age but from her tales of WWII we knew she was at least a decade older than us. Meg came from the English upper classes and had the accent and mannerisms of her birthright. I called her Lady Jane, initially as a spoof, but, as she never objected, that sobriquet became a mark of respect.


David is a common given name in Wales because St. David or Dewi Sant is the patron saint of the Principality and as much celebrated as St. Patrick in Ireland. The name is usually shortened to Dai. I have five Davids in my family including a son. Uncle Dave’s nickname was “Gwiwer” (Squirrel) which he tolerated but didn’t much like.

Remembering Keith Young and the Brotherhood

“I don’t know if you heard that Keith Young passed away. Babsy (my sister) told Denny that it was announced in church last Sunday." Church is the St. James Parish Church that we all attended when we were teenagers growing up in Montego Bay, Jamaica. “Denny called to tell me.”

Ben Cooper MD

In medical school, when I was first being groomed and charged with caring for my fellow man, one particular set of encounters stands out as profoundly life influencing. At the core was a charismatic clinician-teacher. He immersed me in study of the nervous system, but more importantly into the deeply affecting human experience of intense and sympathetic engagement with a person seeking help for illness. I left medical school wanting to pursue a career in neuroscience guided by a prime role model of how people should be treated.

The Passing of Lois

I open the newspaper at the obituaries, and a flood of memories arises. Joseph Whitmore, aged 93. I never laid eyes on Joseph. So it was not his death that jolted me, so much as a small comment in the brief notice: loving husband of Vilma, loving father of Greta, and Lois (deceased). Deceased Lois, yes, I remember.