27.2.1933 – 11.12.13
For many local families John Croall, or Doctor Croall as he was better known, was the kind yet thorough obstetrician guiding them through one of the biggest moments in their life.
For more than 30 years Dr Croall delivered generations of local families at the Whyalla hospital and residents young and old alike would have a lasting imprint of his name on their birth certificate.
Born in Glasgow Scotland, a lifetime of serving others was always a pathway that appealed to Dr Croall and as an 11-year-old he studied at a seminary school outside of Aberdeen.
Later he was sent to Rome to attend Scots College near the Vatican City to be a trainee priest.
At 21 though, Dr Croall left priesthood and after looking at a few other career pathways, went into medicine at Glasgow.
A few years later, Dr Croall met his wife Ruth at a hospital where they were both working at the time.
The couple married and welcomed three children- Grant, Fiona and Heather.
The family moved around England before moving to Australia in 1970 where they took up residence in Griffith, New South Wales.
Here, Dr Croall worked as a general practitioner however his love for a chat and the opportunity to develop a relationship with patients was not fulfilled in this role.
In 1973, Dr Croall and his family moved to Whyalla where he could pursue the speciality of obstetrics.
He became the first obstetrician to work at the Whyalla hospital and in 1975 became the first doctor to use epidurals in Whyalla.
Before retiring, Dr Croall had delivered almost three generations of babies in Whyalla.
Despite delivering babies on a weekly basis for more than three decades, Dr Croall said he was thrilled each time he helped bring a new person into the world.
An advocate for regional health services, Dr Croall was a firm believer that health service should not be based on a postcode but everyone deserved the best health care across the board.
Outside of his work, Dr Croall loved nature and was known for his passionate yet at times eccentric tree-planting in nearby scrubland and at the Whyalla Golf Course.
Few people would know that they have Dr Croall to thank for the thousands of trees planted along the Whyalla skyline and at the local golf course.
The trees of course were always natives and his gardens at home were also filled with flowering gums and an array of local Indigenous plants.
A bit of a “greenie”, Dr Croall’s family said he was very ahead of his time when it came to conservation and even in the 70s he was always trying to save water and “recycle, recycle, re-use”.
Before shower timers, you could always rely on Dr Croall to knock on the bathroom door and say “time’s up” if you had been in the shower for more than a few minutes.
He was often mending things and re-mending things with the affirmation in mind of waste not, want not.
The rule of recycling was no different for anything and Dr Croall was famous for his battered cream Volvo, always saying that there was nothing wrong with it despite it being close to falling apart.
His love of nature and recycling saw him create some beautiful pieces of furniture and other features at the Croall family home including tables, wooden feature walls and rock faces to the exterior of the home.
Always thirsty for knowledge, Dr Croall loved to look up things in atlases and dictionaries and was forever the fan of ABC and SBS which he passed onto his children, “banning” them from watching commercial television.
Dr Croall loved Whyalla and while everyone else would complain about the heat, he saw 40 degree days as a great opportunity to get outside and plant or tend to his beloved trees or play a spot of golf.
Earlier this year, Dr Croall’s service to the community was recognised with an official letter of appreciation presented by Whyalla mayor Jim Pollock who personally thanked him for years of service.
Battling with ill health in more recent years, Dr Croall passed away on Wednesday, December 11.
He leaves behind many fond memories and a lifetime of love and laughter for his wife Ruth, children Grant, Fiona and Heather and his five grandchildren Lucas, Matthew, Joshua, Violet and Hannah.
A funeral service will be held today at 2pm at St Teresa’s Church, anyone wishing to pay their respects is welcome to attend.
FAREWELL: Whyalla has farewelled Dr John Croall.
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