Dr Mike Dobson remembers the extraordinary life of his friend and colleague Dr Laurie Marks who passed away earlier this year.
WFSA is sorry to announce the death of Dr Laurie Marks, in Harare, Zimbabwe, on February 4th 2022. Laurie first came to prominence in 1997 when he played a leading role in the organisation and presentation of the first-ever All-Africa Anaesthesia Congress in Harare. He was born in 1957 in Zimbabwe, where he trained as a doctor. As a result of the inspirational teaching and examples of Mike James and Ruth Hutchinson, he chose (like a third of his contemporaries), to specialise in anaesthesia; much of his specialist training was undertaken in the UK (Southampton and Portsmouth) before returning to Harare as a consultant.
The task of organising the WFSA/African congress fell on Ruth and Laurie at short notice; they coped magnificently, managing all the publicity and administration themselves without professional help, and staged one of the most impressive conferences ever. Laurie continued a full clinical commitment, as well as teaching medical students and postgraduates and was National Director of the WFSA Distance Learning Programme, aimed at strengthening the ongoing training of anaesthetists in district hospitals.
In 2006, as a result of the worsening economic and political situation, he and his family decided to temporarily relocate to North Devon District Hospital in the UK, which was their base (albeit with regular visits “home” to support family and colleagues) until their return to Harare in 2013. His UK colleagues testify to his abilities, flexibility, teaching, and invariable willingness to help others. Once back in Zimbabwe, Laurie immersed himself again in training and played a key role in setting up the Canesca (College of Anaesthetists of South, East and Central Africa) scheme for cross-border specialist training that allows trainees to gain priceless specialist expertise within their own region. He was an examiner for the Canesca fellowship exam. In addition, he was involved with regular charitable work providing anaesthesia at mission and smaller district hospitals. His work was recognised by the Association of Anaesthetists, who awarded him the Pask Certificate of Honour “In recognition of distinguished services to the speciality of Anaesthesia.”
It was a privilege to count Laurie as a friend and colleague for over 25 years. His warmth, energy, leadership and positive outlook were constant encouragements to all. He will be sadly missed both within and beyond Africa. He is survived by his wife Shann, and three adult children.
Mike Dobson, Oxford