Born: March 10, 1927. Died: November 9, 2013.

Ira Earle Farrington, who has died aged 86, came to Glasgow from his native Bahamas in the 1940s and he came for one reason only - to study medicine at what he had been told was one of the finest universities in the UK in that field: Glasgow.

As a child, he had broken his arm and was mesmerised by the dedication of his doctors and nurses and decided that was what he would do. And so, arriving on Clydeside, his aim was to eventually return to the Caribbean to help his compatriots (more the poor than the wealthy celebrities) and after 10 years in Glasgow, that is what he did, with more than a hint of a Glasgow accent. In the end, he did treat the wealthy film stars and other celebrities who moved to Bahamas from the 1960s, often to avoid tax at home, but he treated them equally, and the poor and needy Bahamians were always closest to his heart.

He became the Bahamas' first certified general and consultant surgeon, one of the most respected figures on the Caribbean island group, indeed in the entire Caribbean since he treated people from other islands. He served for most of his life as head of the Department of Surgery at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) in Nassau, so named after the Princess visited the Bahamas in 1955 (it had previously been known as the Bahamas' General). If you say the initials PMH in the Bahamas and, indeed around the Caribbean, people know what you are talking about. It has become known for some of the best primary, secondary and tertiary health care in the Caribbean, with a reputation in the western hemisphere as a teaching hospital.

The hospital's records show Dr Farrington performed more than 30,000 surgical procedures there, a fact that led his peers to describe him as the father of modern day medicine in the Bahamas. He was instrumental in the training and development of a generation of Bahamian surgeons and doctors and introduced an intensive care unit, an innovation in the Caribbean at the time.

After gaining a bachelor's degree in medicine and surgery at Glasgow, Dr Farrington became a lecturer in anatomy there, as well as a house officer at the Western Infirmary. Those who remember him from those days were enchanted by his Caribbean lilt, still relatively new to Scotland in the early 1950s. He became registrar for training at the Victoria Infirmary in Langside and at the Royal Infirmary and just as he was going home to put what he had learned into practice, he was appointed Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow. That made him a welcome figure at the college's headquarters at 232-242 St. Vincent Street in Glasgow, where he loved to wander up and down the mahogany staircases, beneath the spectacular chandeliers, past the Victorian fireplaces, to admire the original Rennie Mackintosh stained glass windows. Dr Farrington was also later named a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

He was born to Ira and Pearl Farrington in Nassau, the Bahamian capital on New Providence Island, in 1927, when the Caribbean islands were very much as British colony (they became independent in 1973). He attended the town's Eastern primary and senior schools and became head boy at the Government High School before making his decision to seek his medical training in Glasgow.

After his retirement, when he was given the Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award in 2002, the chairman of the Bahamas Heart Foundation, R.E. Barnes, said: "He has been called the father of modern surgery in the Bahamas, and a modern-day Good Samaritan, because of his commitment to helping the poor and underprivileged. Above all, he is a modest man of quiet speech. He would never refuse to treat the poor even if meant he would never be paid."

After Dr Farrington's death, a fellow doctor blogged: "Here is a statistic: Surpassed only by his unmatched generosity, love and devotion to his wife and family, and a loyal empathetic understanding and patience demonstrated to all, without distinction, Earle possessed a magnanimous, unselfish love of life and people."

One of his former cancer patients, Pam Burnside, a gallery owner in the Bahamas, told The Herald: "When I was only 31 years old and diagnosed with breast cancer, it was Dr Farrington who performed my biopsy and mastectomy at the PMH. This was 30 years ago and I am still alive. I had a baby five years after my mastectomy. If life throws you lemons, you make lemonade. Stay away from negative people and unnecessary stress." She also recommended conch fritters in moderation.

Dr Farrington was named MBE in 1989. He was an honorary Fellow of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Academy of Medical Sciences, a member of the Police Service Commission in the Bahamas and president of the Bahamas Islands Medical Association. He received many awards, including the Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award and the Gold Medal at the Bahamas Silver Jubilee Awards ceremony at Government House.

In retirement, he remained active in community service, was a member of the police services' commission, a supporter of his local methodist church and of his local gym and tennis club. In all those locations, friends said, he was a mentor, mostly to young would-be doctors or nurses.

He had been bedridden for several years with a debilitating illness. He is survived by his wife Melanie (née Archer), sons Craig and Douglas, three grandchildren and two brothers.