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Obituary: W Kenneth J Walls

It is very sad to have to report that Dr Kenneth Walls, Life Fellow and former Senior Lecturer in Anatomy, died on 8 August 2005.

Dr Kenneth Walls had a close association with the School of Medicine for well over half a century, becoming one of its best-known figures and attracting the esteem and affection of colleagues and students in equal measure. His parents having moved to Leeds when he was three years old, Dr Walls attended West Leeds High School and Leeds Grammar School before being admitted to the University, in 1934, to read Medicine. He qualified MB, ChB in 1940, by which time the war had begun. He held an appointment as Demonstrator in the Department of Anatomy immediately after qualifying but left this post in order to join the Royal Army Medical Corps, in which he was to serve for the next five years. He followed his Army service with postgraduate courses in Surgery in London and went on to hold appointments as Registrar in both Surgery and Neurosurgery in Leeds.

Dr Walls was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Anatomy in 1949, where he taught continuously for the next thirty-three years, retiring (notionally) in 1982. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1959. These bare facts do scant justice to his reputation as a teacher. His knowledge of his subject was recognised as exceptional; he delighted in illuminating and transforming a discussion by reference to a particularly esoteric anatomical detail. He came to epitomise Anatomy for generations of Leeds medical graduates, all of whom referred to him affectionately as 'Daddy Walls'. For many years after his formal retirement, he held an Honorary Lectureship, teaching final year medical students and those preparing for the first stage of the FRCS examinations. His own surgical training made him particularly well-equipped to impart the essential anatomy relevant to clinical practice.

The very keen and active interest taken by Dr Walls in the origins and development of the Medical School found its flowering in the volume A History of the Leeds School of Medicine, 1831-1981, of which he and Dr Stephen Anning were co-authors, and which was published in 1982 as a contribution to the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the School. In the books concluding chapter, Dr Walls writes of the School as having been fortunate from its earliest days in the calibre of those who have served it: his own name is equally deserving to be included on the list of individuals whom he goes on to identify.

At the same time, Dr Walls also involved himself extensively in the affairs of the wider University, being elected to the Senate, the Council and the Court, and serving for many years on the committees responsible for catering and overseas students - a reflection of his enduring interest in the well-being of the student community. On his retirement, the many-faceted contribution made to the life and the work of the University by Dr Kenneth Walls was recognised by his being made a Life Fellow in 1983; in this capacity he continued until comparatively recently to attend meetings of the Court regularly and enthusiastically, as indeed he did events organised by Convocation and the Old Students' Association, of which he was an active member.

Dr Kenneth J Walls

Published: 11 August 2005