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Vale David Lumsden FPS
BY JAMES A MITCHELL FPS
David Cairns Lumsden (31/12/33–13/2/16) was a student of the history and
evolution of pharmacy in Great Britain.
In the 17th Century during the great
plague, physicians fled England, and
apothecaries shed their role as dispensers
and took over the responsibility of
physicians. Chemists and druggists
evolved as pharmaceutical chemists
whose descendants we are today.
David well understood the basic
organisational structure of pharmacy.
He recognised its institutional basis, and
its place in society, and respected – and
was in turn respected by – the leaders
of both pharmacy and the associated
But it is as the living memory of that
profession that David will be most
sorely missed. Because of his immense
mental capacity to retain, codify and
assemble great detail, his counsel and
advice was regularly sought, not only to
the leaders of the pharmacy profession,
but to all levels of society – students by
the hundred, professional pharmacist,
academics and administrators.
The time he spent on the phone with
young graduates was enormous –
and he always had time.
David was a brilliant student. In 1953 he
was awarded the Nicholas Bursary with
silver and bronze medals in two subjects
and the Intermediate Gold Medal.
In 1954, at the qualifying examination of
the Pharmacy Board of Victoria, he was
Gold Medallist, winning both the Kodak
and Parke Davis prizes and his name
appears emblazed on the Honour Rolls
of the Society.
He joined the staff of the Victorian
College of Pharmacy the following year
as Lecturer to Pharmacists 2, a position
he held for 15 years, and in later years,
as a visiting lecturer, he lectured Final
Year whilst Nigel Manning was overseas.
In 1959, with his fiancée Jan Reader,
he purchased the historic Dytes
Pharmacy in Caulfield and when the
conflicting demands of academia and
practice became too great, David retired
from lecturing and I had the great
honour of occupying his desk and
attempting to cover his work-load.
David served as pharmacy’s representative
on numerous committees including
the Proprietary Medicine Advisory
Committee, originally called the
Patent Medicine Advisory Committee.
the Australian Pharmaceutical
Formulary review committee.
editor of Applied Pharmaceutics in
However, continuing professional
development for all the profession was
his goal and he relentlessly persisted in
its introduction to pharmacy.
David was a Fellow of the
Pharmaceutical Society – the only one I
have known who was both a Fellow by
examination and, some years later, in
recognition of his service to pharmacy,
had the great distinction of having
bestowed on him a second Fellowship
of the Society, ‘Honoris Causa’. That very
much amused him.
To many of us David was the epitome
of the perfect community pharmacist.
He was foremost a scholar. He was a
practicing pharmaceutical chemist who
saw pharmacy as the most accessible of
the entire healthcare team.
To everyone he was a gentle man who
loved everyone, regardless of their own
abilities, their colour, their creed or their
faith. But David was, at heart, a teacher
a role model to all who had the pleasure
of knowing him.
George Bernard Shaw once wrote:
‘He who can – does. He who can’t –
teaches.’ David strode both worlds!
This article is an edited version of the eulogy
presented by James Mitchell at David Lumsden’s
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