Designatory Letters: 
MB Sydney 1948, MRCP Edin 1959, FRCP Edin 1976

(Contributed by his son, George Palmer)

My father was born into difficult circumstances. His beautiful and talented mother Dolcie Llewellyn found few good men around Maitland left after WW1. My grandfather, also a George Palmer found employment in the coal mines in irregular intervals and struggled to maintain support for his wife and children Clair, Dad and Brian.

From an early age my father knew that if he was not to work at his own survival, he may not survive. If it was not for the support of his beloved mother and the charity of a local Doctor my father’s life may not have gone beyond an early age. Dr McMahon was the local Doctor in the area and saw the situation that my father and the family were in and arranged for a quart of milk to be delivered each day. Dad later said that if it wasn’t for the charity of this man he may not have survived. This charity had a profound effect on my father and played a significant role in his future.

Without enough money for adequate food let alone shoes and stationary my father excelled academically through school quickly outsmarting many of his teachers and becoming Dux of his final year. His youth and schooling was a daily struggle with a focus on providing food and support to his mother sister and young brother foremost in his mind.

Dad never made too many friends at school. He was not well accepted by much of the school population and was involved in many a school ground blue. He always felt the social stigma of his poverty and rightly or wrongly resented his peers. Once he recalled a young kid letting him know that he had some egg on his chin. Rather than simply wipe it off, dad attacked this poor chap with all his strength cursing that he could not afford eggs and that it was pumpkin. They later became good friends.

It was my father’s determination to get out of this environment that drove him to work as hard as he did for as long as he did. He never found study particularly easy and had to work hard to get results, or so he told me repeatedly. He also let it be known that he didn’t kiss a girl till he was 21 such was his steely determination and focus, although I have a slightly different take on the reasons for this. Dad was colour blind and had a peculiar sense of fashion.

Either way, my father’s character was shaped by the environment that he was born into and it was this that drove him to submerse himself in study and also gave him a sense of social justice and charity that stayed with him to his last days. He started with a career in Law, partly to fulfil his desire to see a more social justice system.

Medicine was something that he was drawn to from his early childhood and with the premature death of his mother altering the course of his life he entered Medical School in 1943 with a Scholarship. He graduated and worked as an Intern at the Brisbane General Hospital before he travelled to Greece and throughout Europe where he worked as the Chief Medical Officer for the Immigration Department and was very proud to say that he altered Australia’s Immigration selection policy taking out much of the financial burden faced by new migrants.

His colour blindness saved him from an almost certain death in the Air Force and allowed him to continue his career in medicine. He studied throughout Europe after WW2 married a beautiful young German woman in 1950 that he remained close to throughout his life. Marga thought that life with dad would be something a little different from what it turned out to be. Her memories of a life on the Island of Capri are marred by the suitcases full of books that dad would take with him everywhere.

Dad become a Dermatologist after passing the toughest exams of his life in Edinburgh and was admitted to the Royal Collage of Physicians in 1956. By 1960 he was back in Australia single and broke. He worked as a travelling GP and tutored at Sydney University while establishing his medical practice.

Dad felt a moral obligation as a Doctor to the Vietnamese people and also to the American Servicemen and enlisted as part of the Medical Corps to serve in Vietnam. The first hospital dad was stationed in was in desperate need as all the previous staff and doctors had been killed by the Viat. Con. I don’t know if it was because of this or because of his upbringing, but he steadfastly refused to treat any of the war wounded differently.

On returning to Sydney he worked at establishing his medical practice in Macquarie Street and fell in love with a beautiful and caring nurse by the name of Jane O’Rielly and at the age of 51 had his first son.

With all the academic qualifications that he needed Dad worked through until his retirement in 1999 at the age of 80 and made significant contributions to establishing the Dermatological Research Foundation at the University of Sydney which was since named in his honour.