Betty Marks (McEWEN) OAM MBBS


Betty Jean Harvard McEwen was born at Oatley, Sydney, the second of three children born to Dr Bruce and Bessie McEwen.  Betty was educated at Marsden Church of England Girls’ School at Bathurst.  After leaving school Betty took a job with the Commercial Bank of Sydney as a ledger keeper and in 1943 entered The University of Sydney to study Medicine, living at the Women’s College. After graduating in 1948, Betty worked in Sydney for five years at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, during which time she was promoted to head of Gloucester House, a 160-bed private section of the hospital, and then to Assistant Medical Superintendent of the hospital.

In 1954 Betty married Dr James (Jim) Marks and they moved to Murwillumbah where they both worked at the Murwillumbah Hospital and joined a general practice. Dr Betty, as she was affectionately known, treated local patients and families over four generations, delivered over 1,000 babies, gave countless anaesthetics, attended emergencies and performed house calls.

Betty worked tirelessly until her retirement in 2014 at the age of 90, having given 66 years of her life to her medical career. Over those years she saw huge changes to the medical profession, including the introduction of Medicare and improvements to vaccines, drugs and cancer treatments. She kept up with the latest drugs, drove herself to GP education seminars and learned to use a computer in her 80s when general practice moved towards computer-based notes.

Betty was President and Secretary of the Murwillumbah Hospital Medical Board, President of the East Murwillumbah Primary School P&C Association, Vice-President of the Murwillumbah High School P&C Association, various sporting clubs, Tweed Valley General Practitioners Association, Friends of the Tweed Regional Art Gallery, Murwillumbah Historical Society and Friends of Tweed Regional Museum. In the 1990 Australia Day Awards she was honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her service to Medicine and the Community and received a Centenary Medal in 2001 for outstanding service to the community through health and wellbeing.

Upon retirement Betty featured in television news and newspapers, was honoured with the NSW Premier’s Award for service to the community, received a congratulatory message from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and was formally acknowledged in Parliament the following day.

Source: Tweed Regional Museum

Vale 2 March 2018

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