James Whitby was professor of microbiology at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. He was born in Hampstead, London, the eldest son of Lionel Whitby [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.444], a distinguished haematologist who was head of the Army Blood Transfusion Service during the Second World War and went on to become regis professor of physic at Cambridge, and Ethel Whitby née Murgatroyd, who was also a doctor. He was educated at Eton College, King’s College, Cambridge and Middlesex Hospital Medical School, and qualified with the MB BChir in 1948.
After house posts at the Middlesex Hospital, he was an assistant pathologist at the Bland Sutton Institute, London, and then, from 1953 to 1957, a pathologist in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He then pursued a career in medical microbiology, working at the Wright Fleming Institute and at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. In 1959, he became a consultant bacteriologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham and an honorary lecturer in bacteriology at Birmingham Medical School.
In 1971 he was appointed as a professor of microbiology to the newly-opened University Hospital on the campus of the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario. He became professor emeritus in 1990 and retired from the position of chief of microbiology in 1993.
He published on a number of different aspects of medical microbiology and in later years his main interest was the radiation sterilisation of medical devices, on which he published a number of papers, and served on North American and international standards committees related to this topic.
Outside medicine, his main pursuit was music. Two serious illnesses at ages of 11 and 12 gave Jim the opportunity to listen to a great deal of music, and instilled in him a passionate interest. He learnt the piano, violin and viola as a child. In Ontario, he played in the viola section of Orchestra London Canada for 20 years and played chamber music regularly. He collected old editions of chamber music and had a large collection from the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of this collection has now been donated to the University of Western Ontario’s music library.
In 1948 he married Margaret Helen Jerwood, who also had a successful career in medical practice, was a cellist and shared his enjoyment of collecting and playing chamber music. They had three children, Elizabeth, Peter and Rachel, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
[Yourlifemoments.ca London, Ontario Obituaries James L Whitby http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oId=957277]