Professor Emeritus Alan Butler, FRCS, FACS, FCCS, CM (Gold), was an excellent surgeon, an outstanding academician and a brilliant man!
He was born in 1931, in Mayaro, attended St Mary’s College from Third Form, and proceeded to win a prestigious Island Scholarship in 1949. He went abroad to study medicine at the University of London, where he won many academic awards, inclusive of an entrance scholarship to Westminster Hospital and the opportunity to do an intercalated BSc degree (which he declined).
The Hallett Prize, most cherished by Prof Butler, was awarded to him after he topped his class in the primary of his fellowship examination. In 1960, Alan Butler became Mr Butler, having been accepted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. Mr Butler continued to work in various hospitals in London for three years.
After deciding to return to the Caribbean, Mr Butler served as a senior surgical registrar under another distinguished surgeon, Sir Harry Annamunthodo, at The University Hospital of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
Sir Harry, recognising the talent and potential of this young registrar, encouraged him to return to Trinidad to get medical teaching started. The Eastern Caribbean Medical Scheme was initiated, developed and led, for 23 years, by Alan Butler. He then went to specialise in vascular surgery at St Mary’s Hospital in London.
With the opening of full-programme teaching at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, St Augustine, Alan Butler ascended the academic ladder and became the first academic dean of the faculty, and director of the School of Medicine—a post he held for 11 years, demitting in 1993.
When the decision was taken by his successor to expand the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Prof Butler was appointed the first director of the School of Clinical Medicine and Research in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1997.
During his illustrious career, Prof Knolly Alan Butler—or Alan Knolly Butler, as he was known to some—was a founding member and chair of a think tank named the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of the West Indies.
He was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold) in 1987, had the title of Professor Emeritus bestowed on him in 1998 by The University of the West Indies, and received an award from the Trinidad and Tobago Society of Surgeons in 1997. He was conferred the title of National Icon in Science and Technology, by Niherst, in 2005; and became an Honorary Fellow of the Caribbean College of Surgeons in 2007.
Also in 2007 he was, along with other medical colleagues involved, honoured on the tenth anniversary of the opening of the School of Clinical Medicine and Research in The Bahamas.
Prof Butler was well respected by his peers, and well loved by his many medical students (undergraduate and postgraduate) for his teaching and surgical skills. His clinical acumen was sharp and precise, and throughout his teaching career served him well.
He was known for his high standards in academia, as he travelled across the campuses of The University of the West Indies as an examiner in the undergraduate MBBS programme as well as the postgraduate surgical programmes.
He has minted many skilled surgeons, and moulded many minds. As he makes his last journey, we wish him continued happiness and a well-deserved rest.
Your beloved daughter, Lucy, leads the charge in saying yours was a life well lived, and the region is a better place for your having been a part of it.
Thank you, Prof Butler, on behalf of all those whom you have influenced so positively, for your caring, dedication and excellence!