Obituary: A dedicated doctor, golfer and family man

Robert Abernethy on the occasion when he was presented with a tankard by Carradale Cricket Club. 

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Robert James Abernethy FRCS (Ed)
August  9 1938 to November 26 2017

A family doctor of the old school, golfer and pillar of the local community, Doctor Robert Abernethy has died in his 80th year after a long battle against cancer.

Dr Abernethy came to Carradale in 1991 to run the single handed medical practice covering Carradale, Skipness and Saddell and was, for a time until his retirement, the associate partner at Southend.

A talented amateur golfer, he was a stalwart player and committee member at Carradale and Machrihanish golf clubs and captain of both.

Born in 1938 to James and Margaret Abernethy, his early years were spent in
Renfrew before the family moved to Glasgow, where he began his academic journey through school and university.

A former Hutchesons Grammar School pupil, he excelled both academically, winning a bursary, and on the sports field, playing cricket and rugby and representing the Glasgow schools in both sports.

His medical studies started at the University of Glasgow in 1956 and he graduated MBChB, in 1962, with commendation and a distinction in surgery, winning the Hunter Medal.

His early post-graduate years were spent in Stobhill Hospital and the Western Infirmary under Sir Andrew Kay and he obtained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1966.

Dr Abernethy married his first wife, Maureen Mitchell, in 1963 and they had three children, Aileen, Gordon and Fiona.

After a spell working in Harwich, the family emigrated to Canada in 1972, where he was the only surgeon in a small provincial hospital in New Brunswick.

Although only in Canada for four years, Dr Abernethy threw himself into the activities of the local community. He was president of the golf club and club champion and was elected as the town’s deputy mayor.

Tragically, daughters Aileen and Fiona died in a house fire in 1976 and he returned home to Scotland, joining a practice in Rutherglen.

Canada had, however, given him a taste for small town country living and, in search of a quieter life outside the busy city practice, he moved to Carradale in 1991.

He loved his single handed practice and his patients held him in the highest regard. His dedication and commitment was exemplary and he would not rest until he was certain his charges were under proper care.

Aged 67, Dr Abernethy hung up his stethoscope, but retained a life long interest in medical advances.

His first wife, Maureen, died in 2000 and in 2002 he married Carol née Macalister Hall.

They spent 15 happy years together at Torrisdale. In retirement, he was able to devote more time to his favourite hobbies.

Golf was a lifetime passion and he retained a single figure handicap to the end. As well as his club championship win in Canada, he was champion at Harwich and at his boyhood club Kirkhill. He gave much back to the game as an active committee member and a coach to juniors.

He was a key player in the re-establishment of Carradale Cricket Club. Away from sport, he took a committee position with the Friends of Campbeltown Museum and enjoyed appearing in the village pantomime.

His life was one of devotion to his family, loyalty to his friends and commitment and dedication to the countless lives he touched and influenced professionally.

Dr Abernethy is survived by his second wife Carol, his son Gordon, grandchildren Robert, Caitlin and Philippa, step-children Stuart, Janey and Bruce Walker and step-grandchildren Hannah, James, Chloe, Hollie and Tallulah.

Robert Abernethy on the occasion when he was presented with a tankard by Carradale Cricket Club. 20_c42cricket01_Robert_Abernethy