Vale Dr Harry

Doctor Richard (Harry) Burnell, 1936-2021

Last month, Adelaide lost one of its veteran medical devotees. Dr Harry, as he liked to be called, served the children of South Australia throughout his career spanning several decades.

Dr Harry grew up in Adelaide, attending St Peter’s College, and graduating from the Adelaide University Medical School in 1959. After an internship at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital, he commenced work as a Junior Medical Officer at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, North Adelaide. From 1966 to 1970, Harry trained abroad in the field of Paediatrics, returning to South Australia as head of one of the units at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Working as a Paediatric Cardiology Consultant, he saw the construction of multiple wings of the hospital and the development of paediatric private practice in the state.

Apart from his regular duties, he was involved in the research and prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and provided medical evidence in a trial involving the work of former State Coroner Dr Colin Manock. Harry retired in 2009.

Dr Harry’s Stethoscope, Ca 1920s

When asked by staff why he loved his role so much he replied, “I just love children”.

Prior to his passing, Harry donated his much-loved stethoscope to the Health Museum. The 1920s stethoscope was gifted to him by former Medical Director, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dr Bernard Nicholson when Harry graduated from medical school in 1959 and was used for the entire length of Harry’s career.

Harry passed away at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, Cardiology Unit.

The Health Museum sends our condolences to Harry’s family.

Written by Jacquelyne Ladner, CALHN Health Museum