Raymond Edward Henry Partridge, MD
Long-time physician, devoted husband and father, educator, world traveler, and passionate amateur ornithologist
Raymond Edward Henry Partridge, MD, of Marstons Mills, died peacefully in his sleep on December 20, 2019, his 92nd birthday. His wife, Alison Partridge, and his extended family were with him in his final days.
Ray was born to a working-class family in London on December 20, 1927, the second child of his parents, Lionel Partridge and Ellen Hammant. He excelled in school and at an early age won a scholarship to the competitive Wilson’s Grammar School—an indicator of his future academic success.
World War II broke out when Ray was 11 years old and living in London. During the Blitz, German bombs rained down on the city for 80 nights. His school was evacuated to Horsham, Sussex, with students returning to London only for holidays and special occasions. On January 10, 1941, on one of these visits home, he narrowly avoided an early demise when a one-ton bomb landed behind his home, spraying the house with clods of dirt but failing to explode, thanks to soft earth or faulty manufacturing.
In 1945, he became the first in his family to attend college, gaining acceptance to a six-year undergraduate/medical program at King’s College London. Medicine became his life’s calling. Following two years of internships in London, he eventually specialized in rheumatology.
In 1947, while still a medical student, he spent a summer as a laborer helping to construct a railway line between the towns of Samac and Sarajevo in Croatia and Bosnia as part of the effort to rebuild a shattered Europe. He recalled this time fondly, especially interacting with students and laborers from different nationalities and cultures and learning about their perspectives and beliefs. He returned to see the result of his work many years later during a trip to the area.
In 1953, following the completion of his medical studies, he spent part of his mandatory two-year national service in the Royal Air Force as a flight lieutenant and medical officer in Habaniya, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East. There he cared for RAF airmen and local villagers at several British airbases. Using only his clinical skills, he diagnosed his first case of typhus in a 5-year-old boy. This case was an early indication of his diagnostic skills, for which he became known and lauded. During this time, while not at work he took advantage of the opportunity to travel throughout the region and developed his lifelong love of birds, often watching them at dusk along the Euphrates River.
After completing his national service in 1955 he made his first trip to the United States, where he did a one-year internship at the Doctor’s Hospital in New York City. Although he didn’t know it at the time, this experience would take his life in a new direction. He loved the vitality and freedom of America, and recognized the opportunities for a fulfilling medical career.
Returning to the United Kingdom, he accepted an appointment in Edinburgh where he met the woman who would become his beloved wife and life partner, Alison Lawrie. They were married on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1960. They immigrated with their family to the United States in 1965, initially landing in Buffalo, NY, and eventually becoming U.S. citizens.
In 1974, Ray accepted a position in the Department of Immunology and Rheumatology at Tufts University in Boston, where he became an Associate Professor of Medicine. While there, he established satellite rheumatology clinics in Martha’s Vineyard, New Bedford, and Houlton, ME. In 1985 he was recruited to Brigham and Women’s hospital and remained on staff there until 1993, working both as a clinician and as an instructor for medical students and residents. He was a long-time volunteer for the Arthritis Foundation, including serving as President of the Massachusetts chapter.
Medicine was the perfect occupation for Ray. He loved his work, and his patients loved him. He was gregarious, caring, and enormously skilled, with expert hands and superb clinical judgment. These qualities, along with his bedside manner, made him very popular among his patients. He had a large practice and became a renowned rheumatologist whose consultations were highly sought after. At age 64, when many would have been considering retirement, he decided to transition from academic medicine to private practice on Cape Cod, where he continued to see patients for another 15 years, finally retiring from medical practice in 2007 at age 79, after 54 years as a clinician.
In retirement, Ray continued to teach medical students at Boston University School of Medicine as a volunteer instructor until he was 88. He also decided to put his sharp mind and passion for teaching to work in other disciplines. He taught classes at The Academy for Lifelong Learning of Cape Cod on a range of topics that reflected his broad knowledge and interests. These included the Victoria Era, World War I, Russian history, and at the age of 90, the Korean War. His lively classes were popular and often had waiting lists. He was preparing a new course in modern art when he died.
Beyond his many professional accomplishments, Raymond was an avid world traveler—an activity he continued into his 90s—as well as a classical music aficionado. He was also a generous host, opening his home to family and other visitors from around the world.
Raymond leaves his wife of 59 years, Alison (Lawrie) Partridge, and five sons, Robert (Karen), Paul (Linda), Richard (Kelly), Michael (Caroline). He was also father to the late Jonathan Partridge and grandfather to 10 grandchildren: Rachel, Christopher, Sarah, Alex, Allie, Ryan, Will, Claire, Taylor, and Tessa.
His presence, love, intellect, wisdom, and humor will be greatly missed.
A memorial service for family and friends will be scheduled at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his name to a charity of your choice will be greatly appreciated.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Raymond E.H. Partridge, please visit our floral store.