It's with great sorrow and sadness to inform you of the death of Dr Reuben Glass in Melbourne on Sunday, November 10, 2019.
In 1957 Reuben, his wife and daughter Rachel arrived in Cobargo in their Peugeot, having driven up the coast from Melbourne. They stayed for about three-and-a-half years. It was Reuben's first outing as a GP after finishing university and his hospital training in Melbourne, and I was his first patient. He diagnosed my heart problem and sent me off to Sydney for a life-saving operation.
His doctoring efforts in Cobargo at times reached legendary status, from sewing Jenny Whiffen's foot back on after a horrific tractor accident, to setting Clem Walsh's wife's broken leg in the back of Aunty Norma's car. We were knocking on his door at 1am Sunday morning after knocking her over outside the Tilba pub on the way home from a dance in Narooma.
May Blacka tells the story of having three of her five children up there one afternoon with Reuben treating them, and Pauline going back to her house to help put dinner on and settle the kids into bed. One of the boys had cut a part of his finger off. Reuben said if you find it when you get back, clean it up, put it in the fridge and I will sew it on. May said, "I will if the chooks haven't eaten it". He stitched it on next morning.
Reuben loved the bush. He had a great love of nature and the environment. Dad would take him horseriding on Sunday afternoons after church and before milking. My brother Kevin and I were discussing this with him recently in Melbourne at dinner, with my brother asking if he could remember his horse's name. Kevin rode Taffey that day, he told us, to the top of Peakalone, a mountain behind the farm where we lived at Cobargo.
They came to Cobargo because of a friendship with the Pretty family who had a farm at Cobargo. Russell Pretty, who on retirement bought a farm at Cobargo, had taught Reuben's stepbrother at high school in Melbourne. After Reuben had finished his doctor's training he was told of a house available in Cobargo, rent free for a doctor who would provide the service. Their second child Deborah (now the Victorian Ombudsman) was born in Bega hospital during their stay at Cobargo. Mum looked after Rachel while Pauline was in hospital having Deborah.
After about three-and-a-half years they went back to Melbourne and he went on to pursue further study in England, becoming a very successful and highly regarded paediatrician and teaching medicine at Monash University.
My parents kept in contact with them for many years but we lost contact when my mother and then Pauline died. After many years a friend found him in Melbourne, and we had dinner, with his second wife Ann, and Deborah, in a restaurant in St Kilda in 2016.
I had not seen Reuben since the late 1960s when he took us fishing at Bermagui on one of their visits back to the area. Meeting him outside the restaurant I said to him as a six-year-old I wondered why you ever left, but now 60 years on I asked you why you came - he mentioned the house was rent free for a doctor
We started discussing my case and he said when we get inside I'll give you details of the telephone conversation I had with your mother and directions she gave me to the farm. He said I was the sickest three-year-old he had ever seen.
Then he said "I'll tell you about my second patient ,a very prominent member of the community". After much thought we worked out it was HJ Bate. HJ rang and asked whether he was a good doctor, then he came in for an appointment. HJ said "you've gotta keep me alive for a few more years doc or death duties and probate will get the lot".
After some gentle persuasion Reuben and Deborah, with their partners, decided to come back to Cobargo after Christmas in 2017. We had a get together at the Cobargo Hotel for anyone in the district who could remember him, which was attended by many. My brother Kevin took Reuben on a walk down the street, where Kevin saw Bruce Russell and asked if he remembered Dr Glass. Without a word Bruce lifted up his T-shirt and showed them the scar from a kidney operation Reuben had done when he was a young boy. Jenny Whiffen was there with her daughter and granddaughter. At the end of the evening Dr Glass was on his knees with her boot and sock off, looking at the foot he had sewn back on 60 years earlier.
He had a keen interest in photography and was a member of the Bega camera club during his stay in Cobargo. We found his name in the minutes which are held at the Bega museum. He was the vice-president, and he still had the present they gave him when he went back to Melbourne.
On attending Reuben's funeral in Melbourne I was surprised to find a few doctors coming up to me saying Reuben would mention my case in class. They were students of his in his doctor training days.
A great man and a wonderful life lived.