Distinguished respiratory physician

Born: November 21, 1929;

Died: October 5, 2019

DR Francis Moran, who has died aged 89, was a notable clinician of great humanity with an impact on many, not only within the professional sphere, but also within the Christian community.

He was born in 1929, the eldest of three children (his younger siblings Mary and John predeceased him). He attended St Aloysius’ College between 1937 and 1947 with an intervening hiatus occasioned by the death of his father, who sustained gas injuries on active service in the Second World War. His already evident ability led him to study science and medicine at Glasgow University. His towering height made him a striking figure within the student body at that time – it was once observed that a Dashing White Sergeant at the end of Frank’s arm as a radius was quite an experience!

He graduated in 1954 as the joint holder, with the late M. Kennedy (“Ken”) Browne, of the Brunton Memorial Prize for the most distinguished graduate of the year. In the course of his studies he met and fell for Ann Savage, the daughter of a respected Maryhill GP, and married her in April 1958.

He progressed rapidly through postgraduate training in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, gaining MRCP(Ed) in 1960 and a senior registrar appointment in 1961. He subsequently spent some time as resident physician in the Veterans Administration Research Hospital in Chicago whilst Ann pursued laboratory research work there. (An offer of a post of professor and chief of cardiology in the city followed later.)

On his return to Glasgow Royal Infirmary he was charged with setting up a Pulmonary Function Unit leading to a consultant physician appointment in 1965.

Over the succeeding years he worked in association with many colleagues to develop and promote the speciality of respiratory medicine. He became a pioneer in promoting awareness of pulmonary thrombo-embolism and, in developing appropriate diagnostic approaches, one can cite collaborative activity with other disciplines such as the departments of electrical and electronic engineering and the department of anaesthesia.

Many can attest to the skills of Frank as teacher, researcher and colleague, but this quote from Professor Frank Dunn may give some flavour of his character and impact – “Frank always had time for everyone and this may explain his propensity to forget what time it was and to run a bit late. His evening receiving ward rounds often did not commence till around 10pm. With his stature, white hair and a suitably long white coat, a number of patients thought they were experiencing a celestial vision.”

On their return from the States, Ann joined her father’s general practice and family life was later enriched by the arrival of two sons, Fergus and Patrick. Leisure led the family to Ardfern, on the West Coast where he planted 500 trees beside their house and where Frank could indulge his passion for sailing.

His clinical judgement may have been superb, but despite his Coastal Yachtmaster Certificate, it is known that at least one journey from Ardfern to Tobermory led to a terrified Ann leaping from vessel to the pier in order to book a room in the nearest hotel.

Ann sadly died in 1998 leaving Frank alone. He nonetheless showed few external signs of loneliness and immersed himself in a wide variety of activities in which the Robert McLaughlan Book Club played a significant role.

He was an avid reader to the end, at home in a wide variety of difficult subjects to which he applied an incisive and analytical mind.

His balanced and thoughtful opinions (often informed by telephone discussion with his much loved cousins Bishop Emeritus Peter Moran of Aberdeen and the late Professor Joseph Moran, the distinguished scholar of Japanese culture) could always be relied upon.

Outwith the professional sphere, friends and colleagues came to know Frank the oenophile, Frank the art and music lover, Frank the courteous guest and Frank the generous host and chef with a delicate touch.

Another facet was Frank the Francophile, eager to absorb a culture which, with the arrival of Fergus and Sophie’s daughter Anaëlle, became ever more important to him. Despite increasing frailty and mobility problems, his determination led him to attend classes at the Alliance Française for over 12 years, only giving up this summer.

However, above all Frank was a man of faith. This would have been obvious to his fellow parishioners in Milngavie, but it was, nonetheless, evident to anyone who engaged him in any discussion with a moral, ethical or theological dimension.

His Catholic faith was firm and profound, but ecumenical in its approach. Frank was possessed of a formidable intellect. Yet this was carried with humility, grace and courtesy. Those who knew him can give thanks for a true friend and the finest of Christian gentlemen.

He is survived by his two sons, Fergus and Patrick.