Serving his country

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The next generation of doctors mentored by late Queenstown GP Pat Farry will continue the legacy of the man regarded as a giant of rural medicine.

Dr Farry died suddenly and unexpectedly last Thursday evening, aged 65, while filling in as a locum in Twizel.
The night before, Farry was assessing a group of medical students in Queenstown.

One of them, Olivia Hill, 23, from Lake Hayes, says: “Pat’s charisma and passion for medicine was undoubtedly the reason for me to enter medicine.

“As a little girl I fondly remember making paper flowers for him to put in his clinic room, in awe of such a caring doctor.

“His efforts are now reflected across the country with 20 of us medical students each taking a piece of Pat with us.

“His legacy will be the future doctors that we will become.”

Born and raised in Gore to a proud Lebanese family, Farry worked as a GP in the Wakatipu for almost four decades and in 1976 established Queenstown Medical Centre, then only the second facility of its kind in the country.

In June this year he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his longstanding services to rural medicine.

In 2007, he obtained funds to set up NZ’s first rural immersion programme for medical students, to encourage them to work in out-of-the-way areas.

Long-time colleague Dr John Hillock says Farry was “a visionary”.

“I came to Queenstown to work in 1979 and Pat was someone who always stood out,” Hillock says.
“He would come up with really good ideas for rural GP education in particular.

“Not only did he have the vision for how things should be, but he had the strength and the tenacity to make sure they happened.”

Farry was director of Otago University’s Rural Health Unit and a distinguished fellow of the College of GPs. He was also a member of the Southland District Health Board for two terms.

Former QMC colleague Dr Don Simmers, who is now on the board of the NZ Medical Association, recalls him as an outstanding GP.

“Above all else, Pat was an extremely good doctor and was a leader in patient-centred medicine. His skill had no peer.”

Another long-time Queenstowner, Kim Wilkinson, who has owned the landmark Wilkinsons Pharmacy on Rees Street for 25 years, adds: “Pat was very approachable as well as being well-respected.”

His patients thought very highly of him, Wilkinson says. “He’ll be sorely missed by a lot of people.”

And former Queenstown lawyer Warwick Goldsmith, who knew Farry for more than quarter of a century, says: “Pat was one of those people who you would genuinely describe as a pillar of the community.

“He was a caring and considerate man who helped a lot of people out in difficult situations.”

Farry came to Queenstown with wife Sue in January 1972 and they spent 10 years creating one of the Wakatipu’s great homes, Punatapu, which became one of the resort’s first luxury lodges.

They have three sons and two grandchildren.

A Requiem Mass to celebrate Dr Farry’s life was held today at the family home in Glenorchy Road.

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