Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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WATERHOUSE, Arthur Robert (1926-2014)

WATERHOUSE, Dr Arthur Robert (1926-2014)

'Bob' Waterhouse (Prefect, 1944).

'Bob' Waterhouse (Prefect, 1944).

'Bob' Waterhouse was part of a dynasty of Waterhouse Family members to gain their education at Geelong College. He became a well-known surgeon and was to lead a life of dedicated community achievement.

'Bill' Huffam, Council Member and colleague wrote the following tribute:
'Arthur Robert Waterhouse provided an excellent surgical service to the people of Geelong for over 40 years and was a major force in the evolution of the Geelong Hospital from a provincial hospital to a major teaching hospital. The son of country general practitioners he was dux of the Geelong College in 1944, proceeded to Ormond College and Melbourne University graduating M.B.B.S. in 1950. At that time, Melbourne teaching hospitals were giving preference to ex-servicemen and Waterhouse commenced his residency training program at the Geelong Hospital.

The Geelong Hospital, the oldest hospital in the State on its current site was still a Provincial hospital and many of the staff were general practitioners with special interests. However the staff did include two excellent consultant surgeons, ‘Mick’ Roland and the innovative, 'Breezy’ Charles Gale. The budding surgeon, Waterhouse, thrived under their guidance. He was medical superintendent of Geelong Hospital 1953-4 but still able to perform surgical work, then surgical registrar Royal Melbourne Hospital 1955-6 passing his examination for Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of surgeons in 1956. He returned to Geelong as a locum for Mr Gale before commencing public and private practice in his own right.

Waterhouse had a great ability to analyse a problem, work out a solution, and act, in clinical practice, administration of the hospital, or in his home workshop. He was very competent over a wide field of general surgery including thoracic and vascular surgery.

Surgical registrars from St Vincent's Hospital rotated to the Geelong Hospital well before the hospital had other university or hospital affiliations and he was an extremely popular and effective teacher of these registrars. He was a great supporter of younger specialist medical staff. Following a Geelong Hospital affiliation with Monash University and then Melbourne University he continued teaching and examining.

An administrative career commenced as Assistant Warden of the House of Guilds while at Geelong College. He played a very effective role in the administration of the Geelong Hospital initially, as Medical Superintendent and then as a member of the Board of Management for most of his surgical career. He served on the State Committee of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and was a leader of a surgical team to Vietnam in 1969.

Waterhouse coped admirably in both his professional life and family life after his first wife, Barbara (nee Dahlenburg), died leaving him with five school-age children. He later made very successful marriage to Jeanette Cuttler, a very competent operating theatre nurse and administrator. Robert Waterhouse died after a prolonged illness on 16 July, 2014. For Geelong he was certainly the right man at the right time.

'Bob' was born on 10 May 1926 and boarded at Geelong College from 1938 to 1944 becoming Dux of the School in 1944. He had previously been to Camberwell Grammar. He enthusiastically joined in the life of the School particularly, in Warrinn House, the Glee Club and the House of Guilds. His affiliation with the House of Guilds lasted throughout his time at the Senior School and ‘Bob’ was on the Guild Council in 1942 and 1943, sub-warden in 1943 and winner of the House of Guilds Prize in 1944. In 1944 he also became a School Prefect.

'Bob' Waterhouse.

'Bob' Waterhouse.

From College, ’Bob’ attended Melbourne University graduating in 1950 and gaining professional recognition as a surgeon (FRACS) in 1956. He served in Vietnam as a non-military doctor with logistical support. He is listed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs as a civilian working with civilian medical and surgical teams and with an entitlement under the Veterans Entitlement Act 1986. On his return, he became a member of the Geelong Hospital Committee of Management from 1965 to 1994. He supported his professional associations on both the Victorian Committee of The Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS) from 1960 to 1968 and the State Committee of Australian Association of Surgeons from 1970 to 1974.

‘Bob’ died, age 88, on 16 July 2014

His father, Dr George Alan Waterhouse (1896-1977), and his sons, David, OGC 1980, and John, OGC 1979 were also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: ‘Geelong Collegians at the Second World War and Subsequent Conflicts’ compiled by J. Affleck p574 (citing The Pegasus; Australian War Memorial); The Age (Melb) 18 July 2014; Obituary by W H Huffam; Ad Astra January 2015 p53 OGC 1940.
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