Many of you will already have heard or read that the truly amazing Dr Bill Frankland died last week.
Amazing because he lived to be 108 and was still razor sharp and reading scientific journals until the day before he died, amazing because he survived three and a half years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and innumerable other adventures that would have seen the rest of us off, and amazing because of his insatiable curiosity about allergy and his immense contribution to the study of inhaled and venom allergens. To Dr Frankland do we owe the daily pollen count which has made such a huge difference to the lives of hay fever sufferers world wide.
Much has been written about his life and his career from his early work with Sir Alexander Fleming onwards – just Google Dr William Frankland. But as a short cut, for details of his medical career see this obituary on the BSACI (British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology) of which he was one of the founders. Or read a delightful interview with him on his 107th birthday in The Oldie detailing the endless succession of life threatening events that he managed to weather to make it to 108!!
I met him twice.
Once at the funeral of his colleague and fellow allergy pioneer, Dr Harry Morrow Brown in 2013. Harry, who was 96 when he died and also still working, but who had long suffered from a heart condition, was always frustrated by the fact that Bill had made it to 100 before him and was likely to outlive him – as of course he did.
And once at an Anaphylaxis Campaign event (he was the AC’s honorary President) a couple of years ago. We talked not about allergy but about aging and how lonely it was to be as old as he was. Not because he had no friends – obviously he was hugely admired and had a wide circle of contacts – but because you have absolutely NO contemporaries left. Not only no contemporaries, but very few even of the generation that came after you – and that is lonely.
Requiescat in pace.
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