My paternal grandfather, Richard Geoffrey Champion de Crespigny, oldest son of Constantine Trent Champion De Crespigny (1882-1952) and Beatrix Champion de Crespigny née Hughes (1884 -1943), was born in Glenthompson, Victoria, on 16 June 1907. He died in Adelaide, South Australia, on 12 February 1966. Today is the 113th anniversary of his birthday.

Geoff’s father was in private medical practice in Glenthompson from 1906 having previously worked for several years in Melbourne hospitals after graduation. In 1909 he took up the position of Superintendant of the Adelaide Hospital and the family moved to Adelaide. Geoff’s sister Nancy was born in Adelaide in 1910.

Frank Beggs and Geoff de Crespigny St Marnocks 1908
Geoff de Crespigny , miniature portrait by his aunt Olive A Chatfield
Geoff de Crespigny with his mother Beatrix about 1912

Geoff attended the Queen’s School, North Adelaide where he won prizes in 1918 and in 1919. He later attended Geelong Church of England Grammar School and is listed as a prizewinner there in 1920. In 1921 he won a form prize and a prize for music. He was again a form prize winner in 1923 and also a prize for music.

Geoff went on to study medicine at Melbourne University and in 1927 he was awarded a Full Blue for rowing. He rowed for the University of Melbourne in the inter-varsity boat race in 1927, 28 and 29.

The Trinity College crew in 1929.  Geoff is number 7
We have two trophy oars as mementoes of my grandfather’s rowing career; one from Trinity College and the other from Melbourne University.

In 1933 Geoff married Kathleen Cudmore. They had one son, Rafe.

WEDDING LINKS ADELAIDE MEDICAL FAMILIES (1933, June 10). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article58626507
A copy of the newspaper image
Geoff with Rafe at Rafe’s christening

In 1939 Geoff enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and served in the Middle East and New Guinea rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. His extended period of nine months in Tobruk, earned the nickname of `The old man of Tobruk’.

Geoff with Rafe and Antonia (Mrs Tone) the dachshund about 1947

After graduating from Melbourne University in 1930 Geoff was a resident medical officer at the Adelaide Hospital from 1931 and then undertook postgraduate studies in England in 1932. On his return to Adelaide he took up general practice. He specialised in paediatrics and was on the Honorary Staff of the Adelaide Childrens’ Hospital from 1936. He was admitted to the Royal Australian College of Physicians in 1938 and made a Fellow in 1953. He gave up private practice in 1960 to take on the role of Medical Director of the Mothers’ and Babies’ Health Association. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1960 and in that year he was President of the South Australian Branch of the Australian Medical Association.

my grandparents Kathleen and Geoff in 1960

In December 1965 he suddenly became ill and died less than two months later on 12 February 1966 of a brain tumour.

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