Dr Geoff Newman PhD (1943-2006)
Geoff, as he was known fondly by everyone who knew him, peacefully passed away last Monday after a short very serious illness. He was a tough, larger than life person who had the strength of character and resilience to survive the last moments of his conscious life with a most admirable sense of self-dignity and endurance. Geoff joined the former University of Wales College of Medicine when the Heath Campus was opened in 1971. He arrived from the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London, with his highly distinguished mentor, Professor Sir Dillwyn Williams, and established the first NHS electron microscopy unit in the Department of Pathology where he was to spend the rest of his working life.
In the early, heady days when pathology was as much a hobby as a professional discipline, Geoff contributed greatly to the banter and the humour of the department with his special sense of sharp, dry wit delivered with his inimitable powerfully resonant voice, laced with his affectionate East end English accent. His loud laughter heard down the corridor and effervescent, lively and endearing presence in the Department will be, and is already being sorely missed by all the staff who closely worked and interacted with him.
Geoff was an Electron Microscopist of the highest order. His academic training in Zoology gave him the ideal foundation for a distinguished academic career which was to span over 40 years during which time he invented the use of a new plastic embedding medium called London Resin (technically known as LR-White) for immuno-electronmicroscopy. This brought him world-wide recognition for which he was awarded his Senior Lecturership and the Directorship of the Academic and NHS Electron Microscopy Unit in the mid-eighties.
The textbook he wrote with his colleague, Dr Jan Hobot, on the use of novel plastic embedding media became an overnight bestseller. His inventiveness also extended to his favourite subject relating to the use of heavy metal salts such as silver and gold as stains and labels in histology and electron microscopy. This brought him further world-wide fame and fortune through his development of several novel silver intensification procedures.
His acutely astute appreciation of the evolving world of microscopy and his high level contacts in the commercial world, helped him to bring forth pathology modernization-led changes ahead of its time — establishing a unique Medical Microscopic Sciences Unit, capable of providing an integrated and highly sophisticated research and diagnostic microscopy service used regularly by numerous academic and NHS staff and trainees.
Above all Geoff was a great human being who was an endearingly compassionate and a very genuine person to all who knew him. He was a passionate cricket lover, a class bridge player of international standard, a well-acknowledged culinary expert as well an innovative wood carver and fine oil painter. He was also a truly warm, kind, caring and family loving person who spared all his energy and time in helping people as if they were part of his extended family.
He will be deeply missed by his beloved wife Pam and his children Alex, Emily and Michael, as well as his parents, his brother and sister, and the many friends and colleagues who were lucky enough to have known him.
Professor Bharat Jasani, Department of Pathology
16th February 2006