AN "UNRESERVEDLY admired" Addiscombe doctor who was expected to die in 1944 from injuries sustained in the Second World War, has passed away aged 90.
Dr Leonard Williams joined the GP practice at number one Morland Road in 1955 on a six-month contract but ended up staying for almost 30 years until 1984.
His lengthy career in medicine almost never materialised, however, as he was shot in the chest with a machine gun bullet in Montescudo in Italy in 1944.
The bullet entered the 2nd lieutenant Dr Williams' left chest below his armpit, traversed his left lung and carried on into the right lung, ending up below his 12th right rib.
It missed his heart, main arteries and veins – but was not to be his last brush with death on that day. The hospital he was treated at was hit by a German shell just after he had left – killing all the patients and medical orderlies.
As fate would have it, his three month spell in hospital and the interest he showed in his own medical condition would lead to his doctors recommending a future career in medicine.
Despite being born in Plymouth and growing up in Portsmouth as part of a very poor family, his intellect helped him obtain a scholarship to Portsmouth Grammar School.
He eventually began his training at St Thomas' Medical School and then did a series of junior jobs including a stint at Mayday Hospital in 1954 before joining the Addiscombe practice on a short-term contract in 1955.
Nick, his son, 61, said: "One of Dad's favourite sayings was 'expect nothing and accept everything' and he lived his life by this maxim right to his last day.
"Lucid to the very end, he was aware that he was very unwell but his concern even then was for the well-being of those round him and that they were not troubled or worried by the fact he was so poorly."
Dr Williams lived in Elgin Road, Addiscombe, when he moved to Croydon before moving to the Park Hill area in his later years.
He is survived by his wife Jean, 87, his three sons, Nick, Andy, 59, and Roger, 53, as well as eight grandchildren aged between ten and 31.
Dr Williams' dedication to medicine never erred and he read the British Medical Journal right up until the week before he died.
His son added: "I have received so many messages from medical colleagues saying what a wonderful doctor he was and in the case of young GPs who he had trained; how much they had learnt from him.
"He seems to have been unreservedly admired and loved by his many patients, several of whom have also been in touch."
A private funeral is being organised by Rowland Brothers but a memorial service takes place at St Mildred's Church, in Bingham Road, Addiscombe on February 16 – which would have been Dr Williams' 91st birthday – at 11am. All are welcome to attend.