Community farewells 'medical trailblazer'

WORKING TOGETHER: Dr Jonathan Thomas and Dr Geoff Mitchell (back) with the late Dr Bruce Roberts (front left), and Dr Les Sands.
WORKING TOGETHER: Dr Jonathan Thomas and Dr Geoff Mitchell (back) with the late Dr Bruce Roberts (front left), and Dr Les Sands.

HE WAS in Ipswich medical circles as a trailblazer, but Dr Bruce Roberts' quiet nature was such that few would have known just how influential he was.

The city farewelled one of its longest-serving doctors on Wednesday, with Dr Roberts dying on September 15, aged 88.

Tributes at Dr Roberts' funeral came from two GPs who worked by his side for many years, including Dr Geoff Mitchell.

Dr Mitchell first met Dr Roberts at Limestone Medical Centre in 1984.

"Bruce was clearly very conscientious and methodical, and hugely respected by his patients,” Dr Mitchell said.

"For a conservative man, he was also highly innovative and adventurous. He wanted the best on offer, leading us to be the first practice in Ipswich to have mobile phones, and the

first practice to be computerised,” he said.

Dr Roberts' role in improving the health of Ipswich residents went further than his role as a General Practitioner.

He was the leader of the transformation of St Andrew's Hospital from a cottage to a significant private institution.

He was also a member of the Queensland Medical Board and the Ipswich Hospice board.

Dr Les Sands also had plenty of great memories of time spent with Dr Roberts, whom he first met in 1962.

"Bruce impressed me as a man of integrity, and a worthy example to emulate,” Dr Sands said.

"He taught me a lot, and taught it with competence and patience,” he said.

"No medical course can teach a student everything he needs to know, and Bruce was very effective in filling in many of the gaps.

"For example, he taught me how to give ether anaesthetics, and also he taught me how to remove tonsils and adenoids.”

After a brief courtship, Dr Roberts married then-St Andrew's Hospital matron Sarah Egan in 1984.

Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer only a few years into their marriage, and died in 1992.

The couple did not have children.

Ipswich business identity Garth Llewellyn said it was important to draw attention to the great work Dr Roberts did througout his life.

"He was a personal friend who I would visit and

have lunch with over the years, but now that he's gone I wish I'd done it

twice as often,” Mr Llewellyn said.

"He was one of nature's gentlemen,” he said.

Long-time patient and former workmate Margaret Boulter said Dr Roberts was a very private man but still left his mark on many lives.

"I thought the world of him,” Ms Boulter said.

"He was a wonderful person in any book,” she said.

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