One of Newcastle’s most revered doctors, Neville Rothfield, has passed away, aged 96.
Having only retired three years ago, the general practitioner and paediatrician treated four generations of patients within some Newcastle families.
Neville Rothfield’s youngest son, Mark, said his father would be remembered for his untiring dedication to his profession and for the love he showed his family.
“The main thing was that he saw multiple generations of patients in Newcastle,” his son said.
“People had the confidence in him to bring their children to him. That’s the biggest tribute to his life.
“I used to push him along Nobbys beach wall, and you’d be stopped about ten times by adoring patients.
“People would say your father saved my life, or my child’s life. That was common.”
With a career spanning 71 years, Mr Rothfield was one of Australia’s longest serving doctors and one of Newcastle’s first paediatricians.
“Back in those days they treated babies like small adults,” his son said.
“He was really ground breaking in that area.”
Mr Rothfield treated the last case of polio in Newcastle in the 1960s.
In 1970 the full-time doctor became a single parent.
“He single-handedly raised four kids after he separated. We were aged between seven and 14,” Mark Rothfield said.
He said he had fond memories of his “free range” childhood, which included beach holidays and afternoons spent at Blackbutt Nature Reserve near the family’s home in New Lambton Heights.
“The family is still very close,” he said. “Dad was very dedicated to his family.”
Mr Rothfield graduated from medicine in 1945. After working as a general practitioner in Queensland, Sydney and Hobart, he moved to England where he studied and practised paediatrics for seven years.
Upon returning to Australia in 1958, he set up a group practice in Hamilton where he worked as a GP until it closed in 2001. He ran his own paediatric practice in Watts Street until 1987.
Mr Rothfield served as a medical officer at Newcastle Western Suburbs Hospital, Wallsend District Hospital and at the Mater Hospital.
He spent the last 15 years of his career working as a GP at Broadmeadow Medical Centre. He walked from his house in Hamilton to the practice until he hung up his stethoscope in 2016.
In his retirement Mr Rothfield enjoyed spending time with his children, Mark, Phil, Jacqui and John, and ten grandchildren, as well as indulging his passions.
“He basically thought if you’ve got a garden and a book, then that’s all you really need,” his son said.
“He was a wonderful cook. You’d come over and he’d have something on the stove, and the garden was neat as a pin.”
Mark Rothfield said his father was “as mentally sharp as you could hope for” until his passing on Saturday morning.