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Timothy Savage

Also Known As: "Tim"
Birthplace: Al Qantarah Sharq, Ismailia Governorate, Egypt
Death: November 2009 (87)
Tauranga, Tauranga City, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand
Place of Burial: Ngongotaha, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of Philip Savage and Phyllis Mary Savage
Ex-husband of (Marie Frances) Therese
Father of Deirdre Ann Savage; Robert Timothy Savage and Private
Brother of Peter Savage; Private; Richard Savage; Rodney Savage; Anthony Savage and 4 others

Occupation: chest surgeon
Managed by: Keith Millard
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Timothy Savage

Timothy Savage MB ChB 1945 (NZ); FRCS(Eng) 1952; FRACS 1958; 3 February 1922–26 November 2009 Tim was born in Egypt where his father was stationed as a doctor with the Indian Medical Service of the British Army after the First World War. He spent his youth in India and came to New Zealand to attend boarding school at 10 years of age.

Timothy Savage He was an accomplished sportsman, scholar and head boy of Kings College, Auckland—the city in which his parents later settled when they retired after a lifetime in India.

Tim’s parents chose New Zealand as the country they wished to educate their family of 8 children in and it was the country Tim came to love and dedicate his life to.

Tim graduated from Otago Medical School in 1945 where he had been a resident at Selwyn College and a winger for the Senior Meds rugby team. He spent the next year as an Anatomy Demonstrator before taking employment at Palmerston North Hospital where he was House Surgeon/Physician for 2 years followed by a year as Surgical Registrar.

After 18 months in General Practice in Rotorua, he moved to Britain where he was House Surgeon at Hammersmith Hospital for 6 months before moving to the Sully Chest Hospital in Wales for the next 3 years which included a period of 6 months as an exchange House Surgeon at the Brompton Hospital. In London he married his Irish wife, Therese (or Terry), and they had their first daughter while working in Wales. In 1955, he returned to New Zealand to Wellington Hospital as fulltime Thoracic Surgeon where he joined James Baird who had been appointed fulltime Thoracic Surgeon some 2 to 3 years previously—both had been contemporaries at Palmerston North Hospital. Another daughter and a son were born during this time. This was a period of intense Thoracic Surgical activity dealing with the aftermath of Tuberculosis made possible by the introduction of Streptomycin, Isoniazid and PAS, using what was at that time, the new technique of dissection, isolation and division of the individual hilar structures of the lung. There were no really adequately skilled junior staff and all postoperative care was in the hands of the surgeons requiring routine evening X-ray reviews and many night visits to sort out problems.

Regular trips were also made to Otaki and Pukeora Sanatoria for assessment and treatment of tuberculous cases as well as regular outpatient clinics at Palmerston North, Wanganui, Napier and Gisborne. He was also fully involved in the surgical treatment of lung cancer, oesophageal disease, chest wall reconstruction and all the other conditions at that time the preserve of the Thoracic surgeon including the treatment of neonatal thoracic problems. This workload was shared equally between Jim and Tim as was the development of the second New Zealand Cardiac Surgical Unit at Wellington Hospital which opened in 1964. Some relief was given with the appointment of a third Cardiothoracic surgeon in 1968. Tim continued to involve himself in Cardiac as well as Thoracic Surgery until the appointment of further cardiac-trained surgeons to Wellington Hospital and then with a mild sense of relief, he devoted himself exclusively to Thoracic Surgery. He was a highly skilled surgeon who made the most difficult problem appear easy; he confronted unexpected events with apparent equanimity, never appearing flustered, never being short-tempered and instilling in his medical and nursing assistants a great sense of confidence and worth. He enjoyed teaching junior doctors and nurses and also gained much satisfaction by being able to use his skills to help others on a number of trips to Pacific islands during this time.

The death of his son and the end of his marriage brought many dark days during this period, but Tim never wanted his work to suffer and remained dedicated to providing the best of care at all times. He was always on hand to give advice about difficult problems and to assist a colleague with a difficult case, even after his retirement from Wellington Hospital in 1988.

Tim loved surgery and a year after retiring from Wellington Hospital he took up a position of Visiting General Surgeon at Taupo Hospital which he continued until finally retiring in 1995. This was a time of great enjoyment and stimulation to him and he relished the challenge of performing a range of different operations while there. It is not an exaggeration to describe him as a Renaissance man, not only because of his wide interests outside Medicine, but also because of his extensive surgical skills well shown by a successful emergency Caesarean section in the early hours of one morning for prolapsed cord.

Tim was one of those rare, cultured, urbane professional men, an inspiration to many and admired by all. As one of his anaesthetic colleagues has stated, "Tim was always courteous, patient and helpful - an anaesthetist's dream". In his last years of retirement in Taupo he enjoyed nothing more than hosting his friends and family in his home. He was actively engaged in raising his Taupo grandchildren whom he lovingly cared for from birth. An accomplished and innovative cook until his final months, he had also enjoyed fly fishing around the district and woodwork projects in earlier years. Reading and a love of words were his life-long interests and he took much pleasure in introducing his friends to new books and discussing ideas in history and science.

The cryptic crossword was his daily challenge and it was his keen interest in the lives and experiences of his colleagues, patients and friends that kept him mentally young and active. He was open to people of all ages and backgrounds and they were a source of interest and stimulation to him. Tim had many gifts and lived to help others. He always remained a support to his former wife, Terry, until her death in India in 2001 and was tireless in his commitment to supporting his extended family— remaining a close and loyal friend to all his sisters and brothers in NZ and abroad.

Tim accomplished a vigorous and independent life of modest kindness, professional excellence and intellectual enquiry and will be remembered by many as a true gentleman. He is survived by his two daughters, Hilary and Deirdre, four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Obituary prepared by Bede Squire (retired Cardiothoracic Surgeon of Levin) with the help of Bruce Cook (retired Anaesthetist, Renwick) and Deirdre Savage (Taupo).

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Timothy Savage's Timeline

February 3, 1922
Al Qantarah Sharq, Ismailia Governorate, Egypt
June 21, 1961
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
November 2009
Age 87
Tauranga, Tauranga City, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand
Ngongotaha, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand