Designatory Letters: 
MB Otago 1945, MRCP Edin 1956, FRCOG 1955, FRACP 1967, FRCP Edin 1971

Contributed by Dr David D Pottinger, New Zealand

Alf Poole will be remembered for his immense contribution to medicine, the community and the historical, cultural and sporting areas. He was described as a man before his time. As a physician with a special interest in cardiovascular diseases he pioneered many techniques and treatments for his patients in Southland, including introducing a change in the rehabilitation of coronary-care patients from full rest to exercise within their limits. His skill in enlisting others to the cause saw the establishment of the Southland Hospital coronary-care unit, the Southland Medical Foundation and a mobile cardiac-ambulance service.

Fiercely defensive of specialist medical services in Southland and Otago, he spoke out passionately in 1990 in support of his Dunedin colleagues for the retention of the Dunedin Hospital cardiology unit, at a time when there was considerable political pressure for it to close.

Dr Poole was educated at Southland Boys High School. After graduating from the University of Otago Medical School in 1945, Dr Poole returned to Invercargill and Southland Hospital. There he met a nurse, Nan Brown, who became his wife and who worked alongside him as his practice nurse throughout his career until his retirement in 1991. In 1954, they and their and their 3 year old daughter travelled to Edinburgh where Dr Poole gained specialist medical qualifications and gained diplomas in anaesthetics, obstetrics and gynaecology. This made him a versatile and valuable asset to Southland Hospital on his return in 1957.

Later, with his career established and a second daughter, Prue, Dr Poole somehow found time to turn his energies to pressing community issues. He was incensed by property developments in the early 1970s, when buildings of historical value and importance were torn down. He was the founding chairman of the Southland branch of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 1973, remaining chairman until retirement. Dr Poole did not confine his interest to buildings. In 1975 he joined Southland Museum and Art Gallery and was immediately elected chairman at a time when the museum’s viability was uncertain. He initiated and implemented much-needed changes turning the museum into a lively, thriving hub.

In 1993, Dr Poole received a CBE for services to medicine and the community. Though his honesty and sharp logic led him to not suffer fools lightly, his sense of humour was appreciated by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife and daughters.