John Emery, Emeritus Professor of Pediatric Pathology, University of Sheffield, tragically died from smoke inhalation on May 1, 2000 while attempting to retrieve his dog from his blazing home. Small in stature but huge in the breadth and depth of his knowledge, intellectual vigor and talent as an artist and poet. He will be remembered as a man of fearless integrity and compassion with a teasing, twinkling in his eyes.
In 1947 he was appointed consultant pathologist for the newly established Children's Hospital in Sheffield where he remained for the next 33 years, and where he became Professor and Chairman of Pediatric Pathology.
His early publications covered a wide range of subjects including particularly hydrocephalus and developmental pathology. Motivated by the loss of his first child, he became interested in sudden infant death. Although he published widely on the pathology of crib death, his major interest in recent years was the establishment of a program CONI (Care of Next Infant). This was developed through a system of confidential inquiries into infant deaths and has formed part of the British Department of Health Confidential Inquiries into Stillbirths and Deaths in infancy now used throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This program provides a system of practical support to all parents having a subsequent child following crib death.
John Emery was a fellow of the Royal College of pediatrics and Child Health and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. In 1987 he received the James Spence Medal from the British Pediatric Association, the only pathologist to receive this honor. In 1976 he set up a committee to integrate the worldwide Pediatric Pathology Societies, and in 1978 the International Pediatric Association was established. In 1979 he instituted the Advance Courses in Pediatric Pathology. He received numerous honors and awards and served on many editorial boards including Pediatric Pathology and Archives of Disease in Childhood. He had over 355 publications, many chapters in textbooks and several books.
Other than Pediatric Pathology he was a noted artist and past President of the Sheffield Fine Art Society. Those who knew John never thought of him without his sketchbook. He would sit in meetings sketching the speaker as well as members of the audience. He is said to have had over 300 sketchbooks. He enjoyed writing poetry and had been President of the Sheffield Literary Society. Each year his friends would receive his most recent addition of poems, many designated as "Grandfather's Folly". John Emery is survived by his wife, Mytts, to whom he was happily married for almost 60 years, six children and 18 grandchildren.
Bruce Beckwith has written "it is inexpressibly sad that this year has deprived Pediatric Pathology the mortal presence of two of its greatest-perhaps even its two greatest names: John Emery and Ben Landing".
(You may wish to reread Founders of Pediatric Pathology: John Emery by AH Cameron in Perspectives in Perspectives in Pediatric Pathology 1992:16:1-6)
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