William Samuel Calhoun Hare AO, MBBS 1967

Professor Emeritus Bill Hare was Head of Australia’s first University Department of Radiology and a world pioneer of Interventional Radiology, the extension of diagnostic techniques into minimally invasive treatment.

Photo of William Samuel Calhoun Hare
William Samuel Calhoun Hare AO, MBBS 1951

Professor Emeritus Bill Hare was Head of Australia’s first University Department of Radiology and a world pioneer of Interventional Radiology, the extension of diagnostic techniques into minimally invasive treatment.

Bill was initially schooled at Ballarat Grammar then, when his father was made manager of the shipping firm, Huddart Parker, at Geelong Grammar. He excelled academically and in sports, representing the school in football and tennis. He was captain of boats, stroked the eight, and in his final year, head prefect and dux of the school.

Bill’s sporting prowess was taken away from him in 1946, during his fourth year of the medical course, when he was one of twelve medical students to contract TB. The disease was widely disseminated and he was desperately ill. His life was saved by Streptomycin – he was possibly the first patient in Australia to receive it.

Four and a half years in hospital in a plaster bed followed. It is a tribute to his extraordinary determination that he was able to maintain good spirits and survive such a crushing physical and mental blow. He went on to sit his finals and came second in the class.

Sport was a huge interest throughout his life. TB may have stopped him rowing, but despite some radical surgery to his shoulder, he was able to play a very good game of golf. He was an avid supporter of the Geelong Football Club: not surprisingly, as his uncle was the famous Henry ‘Tracker’ Young who captained the club from 1901 to 1909.

Bill began his career within the Department of Radiology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1954 and was appointed Director in 1958, a position he held until his retirement in 1988. He rapidly mastered all known diagnostic techniques. He introduced transfemoral cerebral angiography to Australia. Together with leading Melbourne cardiologist, Dr Graham Sloman, he used his angiographic skills to introduce new coronary angiography techniques, a revolutionary improvement in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. He had already performed angioplasty on leg arteries to relieve narrowings, an alternative procedure to open surgery. He became the world authority regarding radiology of analgesic nephropathy and his subspecialty expertise in diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases rendered him a respected world uroradiological authority. Using techniques derived from angiography, he replaced open operations under general anaesthetic by draining obstructed kidneys, stenting blocked ureters and removing the obstructing renal or ureteric stones themselves, all under local anaesthetic.

In 1963 Bill was appointed Head of the newly created Department of Radiology at the University of Melbourne, the first University Department of Radiology in Australia. He was a superb teacher and set up the most comprehensive postgraduate radiology-teaching program ever seen in Australia. He supervised a continuous stream of higher degree candidates. A keen author throughout his career, Bill’s Clinical Radiology for Medical Students and Health Practitioners, was extremely popular and his last book, Medicolegal Radiology, published in 2009, when he was aged 85, has proved a fine reference book for both radiologists and lawyers.

He won numerous awards from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR), served on its Education Committee and Council and was advisor and Chair of numerous state and federal health committees. He was appointed as President in 1986 and 1987 and awarded the college’s gold medal, its highest honour.

Through presentations and publications, his fame spread through the radiological world. He was constantly invited to NZ, the UK, Scandinavia and the USA. He was awarded the extremely rare honours of honorary membership of the Radiological Society of North America in 1984 and of the International Society of Radiology in 1994.

Throughout his career he exhibited vision and leadership. He was pivotal in organising 19 South East Asian and Oceanian countries to form the Asian and Oceanian Society of Radiology. Its first meeting was held in Melbourne in 1971: Bill served as Foundation President and later Secretary and is universally recognised as the father of the society, which is now one of the three largest radiological associations in the world.

Bill’s comprehensive international leadership in radiology was recognised in his appointment as an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1990.

He also served on the Brighton Grammar School Council for 21 years, ten of them as deputy chairman, and was honoured by having a rowing eight named after him. He was a parishioner and regular churchgoer at St Stephens Gardenvale. He enjoyed painting in his leisure time, a skill he acquired when hospitalised while young and still enjoyed in his last years of life. He painted and exhibited with a group of likeminded medicos.

Bill had no interest at all in classical music but loved Jazz. He liked it trad and live and particularly enjoyed listening to his favourite bands over a meal and glass of beer. He had played cornet in a University student band and was possibly influenced by an older brother who played stride piano.

History was made at Bill’s memorial thanksgiving service at Trinity College Chapel when the congregation filed out behind a band playing “Dr Jazz”.

Bill Hare is survived by his son and daughter, six grandchildren, a niece and a nephew. He leaves countless lives improved through his dedication to medicine and humanity.