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.
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.
In 1933 Geoff married Kathleen Cudmore. They had one son, Rafe.
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’.
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.
In December 1965 he suddenly became ill and died less than two months later on 12 February 1966 of a brain tumour.