Bernard Goodhead Obituary (2022) – La Jolla, CA


Dr Bernard Goodhead, B.Sc., MRCS, LRCP, MBCh.B Licentiate, Royal College of MRCS Physicians, England, M.Sc., Ch.M., FRCS, FACS, FICS and distinguished Hunterian Professor died June 6, 2022 .

Born in Derby, England to a homemaker and a baker, he was a young boy during the war years. Bombings destroyed sections of his town where the Rolls Royce factory-built engines for the British Spitfires. He reminisced about walking with his dad and friends to downed German planes, which were fun for young boys to explore, and collecting shrapnel to trade. Memories of donning a gas mask and getting to their air raid shelter quickly were less comfortable. He has never forgotten D-Day. On June 6th early in the day the skies were black with plans thundering overhead and no one knew why. Later as a medical student in 1952 his full scholarship coincided with England’s post war recovery when he rode to medical university on his bike, carrying his ration card.

Dr. Goodhead’s education began at Derby Grammar School (founded 1134) from which he graduated in 1952 with certificates in physics, chemistry, botany and zoology. He went on to attend the University of Birmingham in England with a full scholarship graduating in 1959 at the top of his medical class with a certificate of Full Registration as a medical practitioner from the British General Medical Council. Dr. Goodhead completed his internship at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital; he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (1962); he became a Senior Registrar at Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton, England (1967) and a Senior Surgical Registrar at General Hospital, Birmingham, England (1968). In 1965 Dr. Goodhead was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship which brought him to Harbor General Hospital in Los Angeles, California. In England this is fondly known as the BT A (Been to America). This experience became inspiration for his new goal of emigrating and practicing medicine in Southern California.

As a practitioner, Dr. Goodhead undertook a plethora of surgeries which included everything from appendectomies to the separation of Siamese twins. A highly regarded surgeon, he was also an anatomy lecturer. He has 30 publications between 1957 – 1972.

Dr. Goodhead was not only an esteemed practitioner, he was also a scientist. In 1965, researching the blood supply to the gastrointestinal track, he obtained a Master of Science from McGill University, Canada. Three years later he received a second MS from Birmingham University specializing in the pathogenesis of acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis. During his career, he was considered an authority on pancreatic disease and treatment. His expertise was sought by attorneys throughout the United States for courtroom education on the intricacies of the disease.

Dr. Goodhead moved toward his goal of emigrating and practicing in California when, in 1970, he was invited to Texas as Chief Resident in General Surgery, Bexar County Hospital. After passing the Texas medical exam he was awarded a faculty/surgical position at the University of Texas, San Antonio. For the next three years he practiced medicine in Texas and in 1972 passed the California Physician and Surgeon Certificate Exam, American Board in Surgery.

His goal of moving to Southern California was close at hand. Beginning in 1972 I have practiced General Surgery locally at Alvarado, Sharp Grossmont and Villaview Hospitals. Following the requisite five-year residency he achieved his goal, becoming a US citizen in 1975. (In 1975 the rules for citizenship were five-year residency in the USA, speak English, repeat your medical residency, must have a job waiting, and return to your own country for a two year waiting period). He continued his San Diego practice until 1992 when he retired from general surgery due to a hand injury.

It was then that he embarked on a career in both emergency and family practice. This ultimately took him all over the US and the world. He was hired by Raytheon for trips to the South Pacific, Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands and Johnston Atoll in the South Pacific with privileges from Tripler Hospital Hawaii. I have practiced on the following military bases: Camp Pendleton (10 years), 29 Palms, Naval Station San Diego, Fort Irwin in California, Fort Campbell on Kentucky Tennessee border, and Fort Wainwright in Alaska.

Dr. Goodhead also qualified as a medical doctor in the United States Coast Guard as a staff officer who allowed him to serve as the sole physician on 19 cruise ships. In between assignments he traveled the world with his wife, Arlene of La Jolla (a native of Philadelphia). Together they traveled to over 200 countries including Azerbaijan where his father de ella was during World War I. Arlene and he raised his two young daughters and her son de ella.

In addition to travel, Dr. Goodhead enjoyed reading, history, cricket, tennis, soccer, gardening, playing the piano, classical music and chess. He had the distinction of being the chess champion of his university. As a youngster he played the violin and as an adult he played classical music on the piano. As a British gentleman, he continued to value his ties with England. In 2006 he was honored with induction into the Guild of the “”Freemen of the City of London””.

During his life, he and his wife developed numerous philanthropic interests: The UCSD Annual Oncology Award, Mercy Ships, Doctors Without Borders, Salvation Army, Saint Vincent de Paul, Make a Wish and Scripps Hospital San Diego. The most personal being the four-year Goodhead Medical Scholarship for UCSD medical students, in remembrance of Arlene’s son Scott.

Dr. Goodhead was a loving and devoted husband and father. As written in the Bhagva Hindu gospel and true of him: “”A wise man is he who is always satisfied because he wants nothing. He is happy by himself, inside himself within his soul. He has not hate or envy. He is not afraid. He is not angry. His mind is always calm.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, his daughters Deborah and Sheryl, and his three grandchildren Ryan, Julia and Hailey. The family would like to thank caregiver who provided loving and dignified care to Bernard in his last month’s fulfilling his wish for him to be at home.
Contributions can be made to the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego:

Published by La Jolla Light on Aug. 4, 2022.

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