George Henry King Tippett AM KStJ
1 September 1927 – 20 March 2021
George was born in Melbourne to first generation English and Cornish parents. He attended Caulfield North State School and with the assistance of a scholarship became a border at Geelong Grammar where he excelled together with another well-known Rotarian, Past President John Urbahns.
He attended Melbourne University, first studying Metallurgical Engineering, then transferring to Medicine
after winning a Queen’s College Scholarship.
George worked as a GP in Darwin and became aware of his passion for anaesthetics. George with his young family spent some years in Alice Springs as Medical Officer in charge of the new Aerial Medical Service. He witnessed first hand the special needs of disadvantaged communities. Later after four years general practice in Liechhardt, NSW he made the decision to become an anaesthesiologist.
He furthered his training in London and was duly awarded a Clinical Fellowship in Anaesthesiology at the highly respected American University of Beirut. His study time there coincided with the Six Day War in 1967.
George returned to Australia as a qualified anaesthesiologist in 1969 and it was in Dandenong, with a colleague, he founded Dandenong Anaesthetic Group and developed Australia’s first registered and accredited Free Standing Ambulatory Day Surgical Facility.
This model challenged the strict procedures of all public hospital/doctor relationships with George “pioneering” the concept that not all operations required a patient’s short stay in hospital. The hospital or stand-alone day procedure centre which we now take for granted is one of the many legacies of Dr George Tippett who described himself as a “serious anaesthetist’.
In 1981 with John Urbahns as his sponsor, George was inducted into the Club with the classification Medical Services – Anaesthesia. It is hard to imagine anyone less likely to put people to sleep than George! He hit the ground running and embraced club activities from the start becoming involved in the Kew Group (a term as Captain), Youth Service and International Service Committees - all enlivened by his participation - and he brought his incisive wisdom to the Board in his two years as a Director.
He was honoured by the club as a Paul Harris Fellow in 1991 for his major contributions to health programs in India, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam and a Sapphire in 2004. He was awarded the Vocational Service Award in 1993 for his continued work in Vietnam and Thailand; and with the backing of the World Health Organisation and Oxfam establishing control programs against parasites affecting humans and dental health preventative programs. He worked far and wide in Asia and across many disciplines and his projects and achievements are far too numerous to cover here. Always to the fore was his concern that he could achieve long term sustainable improvement for the disadvantaged and marginalized.
His most treasured award however was the Rotary lnternational Service Above Self Award 1993-94. He responded “It means that the most senior of one’s colleagues have recognised your response to a challenge” even more than being bestowed with a Knighthood of St John of Jerusalem which he regarded as “a privilege, but does not represent who I am”.
In 1996 George was awarded the Weary Dunlop Asia Medal for distinguished achievement in enhancing Australia’s relations with Asia and was awarded Membership of the Order of Australia for service to international relations in the field of medicine. George did not say he was a man with “ambition”, but rather someone who had the flexibility and confidence to say “yes”.
In our regard for George as an eminent member of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, he would be described as esteemed, and yet as it applies to George, it is a pathetic understatement. His professional and Rotary achievements are momentous and his legacy will be with us forever.
George is survived by his wife Naomi, friends since they were 14. Together they share seven children and 50 years of marriage.