Home' The Southern Cross : September 2015 Contents Page 22 September 2015
Des was born in Murray Bridge in 1928, the
first born of Daniel and Barbara Dineen’s
five children. A hard working railway family,
Daniel was a stationmaster at Murray
Bridge and Burra. Barbara was an infant
school demonstration teacher.
Des attended the local St Joseph parish
schools in the country before moving
to Adelaide with his family. He won a
Railways Scholarship to Christian Brothers
College and completed his schooling there.
He was indebted to Brother Walsh who
provided him with encouragement and the
intellectual challenge needed to make him
want to continue his schooling rather than
leaving early, as was common in those
days. Des was awarded Dux of the school
and won a Commonwealth scholarship to
study medicine at Adelaide University.
By about fourth year, life changed for
young Des. He met physiotherapy student
Genevieve Clark at an Aquinas Catholic
university students’ club weekend in the
Adelaide Hills and was instantly besotted.
She was to become the single most
important person in Des’ life. His love for
her was unconditional and she was the
centre of his universe. They were engaged
when he completed medicine and married
two years later upon completion of his
internship at the Royal Adelaide Hospital
and Adelaide Children’s Hospital. After
exploring a number of options, including
working in some country practices, they
decided to settle in Adelaide to be close to
Gen’s widowed mother, Mary.
Des bought into a general practice with
Lou Levy at Marion, then a developing area
on the fringe of Adelaide. The houses were
full of young people and the streets and
parks were full of children. Des wanted to
live in the community in which he worked
and together with Gen they designed and
built their dream home.
Des loved people, loved medicine and
loved being a GP. People quickly warmed
to him, respected him and embraced him.
This was when doctors made house calls,
before mobile phones and Medicare. There
would often be people doing gardening,
bringing chickens and home grown
vegetables in lieu of payment. The phone
would regularly ring in the middle of the
night and Des would take his bag and
Ricky, the dog, and head out. He always
went no matter what. He loved it.
During this time Des and Gen had five
children in quick succession. It was during
this time too that Des became involved in
driving change around funding for Catholic
schools and in facilitating ‘Pre-Cana’
courses to support couples in preparation
As an intern at the RAH and ACH, Des
had become interested in anaesthetics.
As a GP, doctors were able to dabble in
performing anaesthetics. Des, with five
children in tow and a thriving general
practice, decided that he wanted to
become a specialist anaesthetist. Gen
supported him and he gave up general
practice and went into serious study mode
for about four years. This was stalled a bit
by his political activism around what was
then called State Aid for Catholic Schools.
Des’ voluntary work at the St Joseph’s
Refuge for Unmarried Mothers was also
important to him. He delivered hundreds of
babies there over the years.
After successfully completing his studies
he joined an anaesthetists’ practice with
Brian Ellis in North Adelaide and worked
for a number of years as a specialist in
A stint as an anaesthetic locum with the
Adelaide Children’s Hospital started a 30-
year love affair with the Adelaide Children’s
Hospital. A vacancy in the Anaesthetic
Department emerged and Des accepted
an offer to fill it. He valued the opportunity
to work with a great team in an emerging
department and enjoyed the opportunity
to explore, research and engage at the
cutting edge of paediatric anaesthesia and
help to shape an improved health care for
the young people of our State. He also
enjoyed supporting, training and mentoring
other developing health professionals.
Des was a people person. He knew
everybody in the hospital and each person
was important to him. He knew all the
cleaners, the porters and switchboard
operators by name. He knew all about
them, about their families and about their
lives and would not be interrupted by
others when engaging with them in the
corridors and in the lifts.
Des played significant roles in
amalgamating the Queen Victoria Hospital
with the Adelaide Children’s Hospital. This
change process was not easy and was met
with significant ingrained resistance.
He also recognised that the hospital
doctors needed a voice in negotiating
their conditions and played a major part
in establishing and leading the SA Salary
Medical Officers Association.
Des understood the importance of seeing
the hospital’s work and delivery of services
through the eyes of young people. The
old formalities of hospital life and pre-
operative procedures could be confronting
and unhelpful in providing top quality care.
Children liked Des and warmed to him. He
made them laugh with his silly rhymes and
put them at ease. He introduced Teddy
Ruxpin bears and used these to distract
and relax children while he administered
the anaesthetic. He had a special sense
of humour and fun. People knew him at
the hospital as Uncle Des. He made a
wonderful Tinkerbell and was light on
his feet as he participated in the hospital
pantomime each year.
Des retired the day he turned 65, as
required by law. He went from mover and
shaker to idleness overnight. Medicine
had been his life; it was his lifestyle
rather than his job. During his time at the
Women’s and Children’s Hospital, two
more children had come along and they
were still at school when he retired.
He put on his old theatre blues and
weeded the front lawn every day for three
months. Fortunately he was asked back
to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to
fill a temporary anaesthetist vacancy. He
retired again and very soon was back as
a project officer leading the development
and implementation of day care surgery.
He eventually retired yet again but this time
he was ready for it, and he had no more
children at school.
Des had been on the hospital board for a
number of years and continued until he
was about 80. He finished up enjoying
retirement and refused to let mobility
issues hold him back. Unlike many, he
didn’t have to choose between a great life
and a long life. He had them both.
Des is survived by his three sisters, seven
children and 17 grandchildren.
Taken from the eulogy by Mick Dineen.
Crossword No. 165
This long established business is now for sale
Peter and his wife are looking to retire
Christian Supplies SA
183 Findon Road, Findon SA 5023
Supplier of religious gifts
Books, Candles, Cards, Church Ware
Holy Land Products, Rosary Beads & Bracelets
Statues, Sunday Missals, Vestment
Specialising in gifts for
Christening - First Holy Communion - Confirmation
and all other religious special occasions
For enquires please contact Peter on
(08) 8244 1811 or email@example.com
BUSINESS FOR SALE
Dr Des Dineen
Born May 9, 1928
Died July 5, 2015
Uncle Des leaves his mark on many
Des with his popular Teddy Ruxpin bears and his beloved wife Gen.
1 Electronic media
organisation or presenter.
9 Sense organ.
11 Associate and helper of St
Paul at Philippi.
12 Negative return;
13 Has existence.
14 Arid; thirsty.
19 Creatures with spines of
25 Perhaps spiced teas or an
abbreviated personal name.
26 City in Israel.
30 Tending to removal or
1 Has faith in; trusts.
2 Beams of light.
3 River in Kimberley region
4 Deceased; not operational.
5 Associate in some
6 Having a valid will.
7 Another; alternative.
8 Royal Mail (init.).
15 Clothed in festive or ritual
17 Heavy metal compound
used in residual weed killers
in times past.
18 Major airway.
21 Device for cake
22 Italian city and wine
23 Killer whale.
24 Scandinavian name.
27 Me! (Fr.).
28 Personal pronoun.
Solution page 22
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