WATTS, James McKinnon (1932-2017)

Modified on Sat, 29 Sep 2018 15:18 by Con — Categorized as: Biography - All, Biography - Collegians in the News 1911-1960, Biography - Students, Geelong College

WATTS, Prof Dr James McKinnon (1932-2017)

'Jim' Watts (House Prefect, 1950)

'Jim' Watts (House Prefect, 1950)

James McKinnon Watts became one of Australia's youngest professors of surgery at the age of 35. In a dedicated and caring career, he pioneered extensive clinical research and developed outstanding skills in gastrointestinal surgery. When his own medical issues restricted his career he founded and developed a very successful award winning winery in Adelaide's McLaren Vale.

'Jim' Watts was born at Bendigo on 27 August 1932. He was a day student at Geelong College from 8 February 1945 to December 1950 after attendance at Geelong West State School. His address at enrolment was Bell Post Hill, Geelong. At College, he became a House Prefect, Vice-Captain of the 2nd Football XVIII, and School Dux in 1950.

From College he went the University of Melbourne graduating MBBS in 1956. A year later, in 1957, he married Helen Murray, a nurse then studying in Melbourne. He completed his Residency in medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 1962 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRACS) in General Surgery. That same year he was awarded the Moynihan Prize and the Edward Lumley Surgical Research Fellowship.

From 1962 to 1964 he pursued clinical research worked in the Department of Surgery at Leeds UK where he held the positions of Surgical Research Fellow and then Lecturer in Surgery. During 1964 and 1965 he moved to the United States as Research Fellow in the Department of Surgery, University of California Medical Centre in San Francisco after which he returned to Australia. From 1965 to 1968 he became Senior Lecturer in the Department of Surgery, Monash University at the Alfred Hospital. In 1968 he was appointed to the Foundation Chair of Surgery at Prince Henry's Hospital in Melbourne, the second Monash University surgical chair.

In 1975, he was appointed to the Foundation Chair of Surgery at the new Medical School at Flinders University where he continued until mid-1983. He then developed a successful private surgical practice based principally, at Ashford Private Hospital. In 1986 he was awarded the John Lowenthal Medal.

He was also a Councillor of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from 1987 to 1996 and the first Surgeon President of the Gastrontological Society of Australia. He retired from surgery in 1995.

With his family he established the winery and vineyard 'Fox Creek Wines' in McLaren Vale, South Australia.

'Jim' died at his Fox Creek Winery home on 19 May 2017 aged 84 years.

Sources: Ad Astra February 1968 p4; The Advertiser (Adelaide) 22 May 2017; 'James McKinnon Watts: Surgeon, winemaker' - Obituary Herald Sun (Melb) 15 July 2017 by Jim Watts, Steve Garie and Sheila Michaels; .'James McKinnon Watts' - Obituary by James Toouli PhD FRACS. Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 2017; 'James McKinnon Watts - Obituary by Kristin McLarty (n.d.) foxcreekwines.com. OGC 1945.