University of Otago Otago Medical School Alumni Association

Obituary - Dr Kendall Graeme Lewis

Kendall Graeme Lewis, known as "Graeme" was born on 3 December 1931 in Richmond, Nelson, New Zealand.

Dr Kendall Graeme Lewis

Dr Kendall Graeme Lewis


Graeme was the second son of Griffith and Alice Ethel Lewis, of Hope, Richmond, Nelson, New Zealand. His elder brother Jeffrey was a Flight Sergeant Pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force who died on 6 May 1942 whilst serving with the RAF. Jeffrey is buried in North Eastern France.

Graeme is survived by his Civil Partner Jerry Walsh, by his sister Audrey Church, by his nieces Dianne Bognuda and Lorraine Burton and their families and by his nephew Lloyd Church and Lloyd’s partner Katherine. Graeme was an integral part of his partner Jerry’s family too as is Jerry of Graeme’s family.

Graeme was always interested in extended family and kept in close contact not only with his immediate family but also with his many cousins and friends in New Zealand. He visited New Zealand for one month every two years without fail.

Graeme regarded himself as ethnically English. He was proud of his descent from some of the earliest British and Irish settlers in NZ. Some of his forebears were surveyors in the early colonial days. Some South Island mountain passes carry their names – notably the Lewis Pass from Nelson into Canterbury and also Arthur’s Pass from Canterbury to the West Coast.

Graeme had a religious upbringing. His grandmother Lewis was one religious influence. Grandmother Lewis was a strong supporter of the open Plymouth Brethren and that Christian Community remains strong today in the township of Hope, New Zealand as the Hope Community Church. 

Graeme's maternal grandmother Eden and his mother were Methodist.  Graeme's grandmother was instrumental in building the Methodist Church in Hope. Graeme played an active part in the Methodist Community whilst at school and university.

Graeme grew up on his parent's farm in Hope during the economically difficult times of the 1930s. He attended Hope Primary School and remained in touch with many of his classmates there. He went on to Nelson College.

Graeme's young life was deeply influenced by the tragic events of World War 2 in which his brother and a number of his cousins lost their lives. Graeme remembered particularly the period from late 1941 into 1942 which appeared very dark indeed. New Zealanders felt virtually defenceless after the Fall of Singapore as most of the New Zealand Forces were in the Middle East and the UK. But, both New Zealand and Graeme's family were immensely heartened by the entry of the USA into the Pacific War. The arrival of US troops in New Zealand in 1942 signified that victory was assured.

Student life and medical career

The Careers Master at Nelson College advised Graeme to follow a medical career. Graeme worked very hard at his studies and consequently did well in school and state exams and was awarded a bursary.

Graeme pursued his Medical studies at the University of Otago. The first year of studies was spent in Christchurch followed by a number of years at the Medical School in Dunedin with the final year in Christchurch. Graeme graduated in 1956.

Graeme’s spent his two years pre-registration period working in Nelson Hospital. A one year GP locum post in Lyttleton followed. Graeme then proceeded to the UK as Ship’s Doctor with Port Line which transported refrigerated apples and frozen lamb. He returned to NZ fairly soon as father had died suddenly. Graeme headed back to the UK once again as Ship's Doctor with Port Line. Graeme took a Medical Registrar job at West Middlesex Hospital on his return to the UK. A few months working for emergency night services followed. Graeme then worked at a GP practice in Hanwell for two years. Graeme joined the Hounslow GP practice about 1968 and remained there as a partner until his retirement in December 1991 aged 60. Graeme had a special interest in diabetes and undertook a clinic in West Middlesex Hospital one morning per week.

Social and personal life

Being gay in the 1960s when homosexuality was illegal required discretion but also led to strong and supportive friendships. Graeme relaxed and socialised mainly at the Marquis of Granby Pub in Richmond. He found a male social circle. Deep personal bonds, enduring friendships and long lasting partnerships were formed. Graeme valued his friends deeply. He formed a more personal and lasting relationship and moved to Wensleydale Road in Hampton in 1967 or 1968 with his partner. This first deep personal relationship ended about 1974.

Graeme met Jerry in 1982. They bought the house in Kew in 1985 where they led a quiet domestic life. Graeme and Jerry registered their Civil Partnership on 23rd December 2005 two days after Civil Partnership became legally possible in the UK.


Graeme retired from medical practice in 1991 and enjoyed a peaceful and rewarding retirement for just over 18 years.

Graeme's retirement interests and activities included holidays, studies, support for family and friends together with participation in local activities.

Studies included French Language, Art History and his Family Tree. Graeme found dining out twice a week was a great pleasure. Contact with and visits from family and friends were a source of pleasure and interest. Graeme made good friends whilst studying Art History. Visits to exhibitions and places of interest in the UK and Europe gave Graeme great pleasure. Graeme worked closely with neighbours to help maintain Kew Pond. Graeme supported the work of the Kew Neighbourhood Association, driving local elderly people to hospital appointments.

Final illness

Graeme began to experience lack of appetite and reduced energy levels during his final trip to New Zealand with Jerry in 2008.

Inoperable metastatic neuro-endocrine tumours of the pancreas and liver were diagnosed soon after his return to the UK. Chemotherapy ameliorated the symptoms. Graeme enjoyed a reasonably comfortable quality of life until the end of January 2010. Graeme's condition deteriorated rapidly during February 2010.

Graeme died at home peacefully on 23 February 2010.

Funeral Service

A Funeral and Service of Thanksgiving for Graeme's life took place at the Parish Church of St. Anne, Kew, Richmond, Surrey on Thursday, 4 March 2010. Cremation took place at Mortlake Crematorium. A reception was held at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park.

There was a Memorial Service of Thanksgiving for Graeme's life on Friday 10 December 2010 at Holy Trinity (Anglican) Church, Richmond NZ. This was be followed by interment of Graeme's ashes at Marsden Valley. There was a reception afterwards at the Hope Community Church.

The presence of any of Graeme's School, College or University colleagues who wished to attend were welcomed by Jerry and the family.

Obituary by
Jerry Walsh and Dianne Bognuda