Arnold Kalina obituary

Tanya Kalina

My father, Arnold Kalina, who has died aged 95, was a brilliant doctor who loved the arts. A GP for more than 60 years, he inspired and influenced many people, including the student doctors who came to him as part of their training.

Born in Liverpool, to Golda (nee Cooklin), a hotelier who also managed clothes shops, and Abraham (Harry) Kalina, a dental technician, Arnold was the eldest of five children. The family moved to Preston, Lancashire, when he was very young and he spent a lot of time with his grandparents. He went to Preston grammar school, then University College Hospital in central London to study medicine. As a student he performed in the New Yiddish theatre, in east London, and was torn between acting and medicine as a career; there are many people alive today who are pleased that he chose medicine.

His studies were interrupted when he was commissioned as a medical officer for wartime service. He was in the Royal Air Force medical division, based largely in Leatherhead, Surrey, and worked at the American hospital in Paris for six months. He then spoke excellent French for the rest of his life.

Arnold qualified in 1948 and worked for several GP practices before setting up his own surgery at his home on Ebury Street, Belgravia, in central London. The house was previously lived in by the actor Dame Edith Evans, for which it has a blue plaque.

After undergoing psychoanalysis himself for four years, he also did psychotherapy training, and was a member of the Balint Society, which aims to help healthcare professionals become more psychologically aware of their patients’ needs.

Aged 70, he had to retire as an NHS GP, but continued to see patients privately.

Witty, entertaining, generous, loyal and brave, Arnold was admired by many. He loved life, London and the arts, and went to the theatre, opera, or a concert or to see films weekly, and had many friends in those worlds.

He met his wife, Freda (nee Davis), a hairdresser and jeweller, at a party hosted by the opera singer Adele Leigh in 1956 and they married the following year. Freda died in 1991, and a son, Geoffrey, died in 2016.

Arnold is survived by his son Richard and me, by his grandchildren, Luna and Natasha, and by a sister, Rosa.

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