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Kytherian Obituaries

Dr Archie Kalokerinos

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“Archie” Kalokerinos was born ‘Archivides’ Kalokerinos, to Greek parents from the island of Kythera, in Glenn Innes, Australia, on 28 September 1927. (He was named after the Greek hero Alcibiades, but during translation the spelling was mistaken). He was always proud of his Greek heritage - “...my Greek background acted, always, as the guiding light through the darkness and unknown.”

“Dr Archie” as he was affectionately known, took his medical degree from Sydney University in 1951 and then spent six years in England. On his return to Australia he was appointed Medical Superintendent of the hospital at Collarenebri, a town 500 miles north-west of Sydney.

In 1965 he tried his hand at opal mining at Coober Pedy. He became a world expert on opals, and in 1967 and 1971, wrote two definitive books on the subject. Later, becoming disillusioned with opal mining, he returned to medicine at Collarenebri, where he served until 1975.

Dr Kalokerinos became very concerned about the high mortality rate of Aboriginal children in north western New South Wales. He came to the conclusion that the infants had symptoms of scurvy, a deficiency of vitamin C, and he treated them accordingly. At one stage, in one Central Aboriginal community, every second Aboriginal Infant was doomed to die in infancy. The death rate, in the area supervised by Archie Kalokerinos dropped to zero after Archie applied his “counter intuitive” therapy. Dual Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling, in the foreword to Kalokerinos’ book Every Second Child, endorsed his views, and his clinical acumen.

In 1975 Phillip Noyce produced the compelling film docudrama about Dr Archie Kalokerinos and aboriginal healthcare and his use of vitamin C, entitled ''God knows why but it works''.
Opening the Kytheraismos Conference II, in Canberra, on the 15th September, 2006, then Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, asserted that he could “.... think of no other group that has more totally integrated itself into the mainstream of Australian life, yet preserved a passionate love of their home culture than the Greeks. They have really shown the rest of the world and the rest of Australia how it should be done. “The people of Kythera”, he added, “have made an enormous contribution to Australia, over a very long period of time. They have made a particular contribution to regional and rural Australia”.

Amongst the many high achieving Kytherians in the room, he singled out Dr Archie Kalokerinos for special mention. “Dr Archie Kalokerinos practiced medicine in central New South Wales, and through his consistent and selfless efforts saved the lives of many young indigenous Australians”.

It would be interesting to perform a ‘Schindler’s List type analysis’ of the extended families of the children ‘saved’, and determine how many aboriginal people owe their existence to Dr Archie Kalokerinos.

From 1976 to 1982, Dr Archie worked with the Aboriginal Medical Service. From 1982 to 1992, he conducted a medical practice in the northwestern NSW town of Bingara. Former Mayor of Bingara, John Wearne, speaks for an entire community when he says “...many people in Bingara will grieve for the loss – he was much revered in Bingara”. His offices were situated within what is now, the newly renovated Roxy ‘complex’. This is only fitting, as the Roxy complex, including theatre, café and museum, ‘memorializes’ the contribution that Greek-Australians have made to rural Australia.

Dr Kalokerinos would later enter a number of controversial debates, including those surrounding vaccination, sudden unexpected shock, sudden unexpected unconsciousness, otitis media, sudden infant death syndrome, and shaken baby syndrome.

Dr Kalokerinos was a Life Fellow of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, a Fellow of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine, a Fellow of the Australasian College of Biomedical Scientists, Fellow of the Hong Kong Medical Technology Association, and a Member of the New York Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he was the subject of This is your life and was presented with The Australian Medal of Merit for Outstanding Scientific Research.

He retired from full time practice in 1992, and apart from performing occasional ‘locums’ in Tamworth, he spent most of the latter part of his life doing private research. He subsequently moved from Tamworth to Cooranbong on the Central Coast, and then to Rushcutters Bay in Sydney.

In 2000 he was declared the Greek Australian of the Century by the Melbourne newspaper, Neos Kosmos.

On 17th Dec, 1977 Dr Archie married Catherine Hunter, at St Lukes Church, Mosman. In a brief autobiography he wrote of her: “There is one non-Greek who I need to thank. It is my English wife, Catherine. She tolerated a great deal when I became obsessed with what I was doing. In the end, there is nothing like teamwork”.

Archie was the beloved husband of Catherine and adored father of Ann, Helen and Peter, and grandson Oscar.

Archie recounted his life in his autobiography, Medical Pioneer of the Twentieth Century, a book that has never been out of print, and which is available from Biological Therapies Publishing, Melbourne.

Archie’s most endearing qualities, Daan Spijer, argues, were his humanity and honesty, and these are qualities that emerged throughout his life. Those who had been privileged to meet “Dr Archie” will know that these qualities were evident even more forcibly, in personal encounters.

He passed away peacefully, on 1 March 2012
His intellectual, vibrant and engaging presence will be sorely missed.

May his memory be eternal.

Family and friends are warmly invited to attend Archie's service of Thanksgiving at St Michael's Anglican Church, Gilliver Avenue, Vaucluse, 2030, on Wednesday 7 March 2012, commencing at 2pm.

Wear something bright.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Alzheimer's Australia.

Envelopes will be available.

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