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WETTENHALL, Roland Ravenscroft (1882-1965)

WETTENHALL, Dr Roland ‘Roly’ Ravenscroft (1882-1965)

Dr 'Roly' Wettenhall, dermatologist, was born on 13 March 1882 at Carrs Plains, Glenorchy, Victoria.

His parents were Holford Highlord Wettenhall and Mary Burgess née Dennis. Roland attended the Geelong College as a boarder from 1897 to 1900. At School he played in the First Football XVIII in 1900 and the First Cricket XI in 1900. Like several of his family he was an accomplished athlete and Pegasus described him in 1912 as follows: 'Roly Wettenhall is as thin as ever and I can still see him in my mind doing his mile in evens with that neat lithe swinging step that never faltered.' He became one of the longest serving members of the College Council from 1927 to 1958. After graduating from Geelong College Roland studied medicine at the University of Melbourne. He spent his residency at Hobart. After his marriage to Jane Vera nee Creswick in 1910 he went to London to study further but enlisted after the outbreak of war with the Royal Army Medical Corps with whom he served until his transfer to Australia in 1916 to join the Australian Army Medical Corps. By the time of his discharge in 1919 he had attained the rank of major. From then onwards he practised as a dermatologist and consultant and held a variety of positions with major medical associations. His interests included history and he became from 1941 to 1949 president of the Genealogical Society of Victoria and from 1952 to 1955 president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. He died in 1965. A significant part of his estate was bequeathed to the Geelong College.


Dr Roland R Wettenhall (Wettenhall)

An obituary appeared in Pegasus: 'Dr. Roland Wettenhall , MB, BS, FRACP, who died on 21st July, 1965, served on the College Council from 1927-1958, a period of thirty-one years. He was President of the OGCA in 1926. His life-long devotion to the College was only one aspect of his interest in people, particularly the young, and his gift of land to The Preparatory School was an example of his practical loyalty. Dr Wettenhall was himself at College from 1897-1900, under the Headmasterships of both Dr. George Morrison and Mr. Norman Morrison. He was the first Librarian of the Morrison Library, and was a member of the football, cricket and athletics teams. He was later at Ormond College, graduating from the University in 1905, and then studying skin disorders in Australia and England. He was in England when war was declared in 1914, and he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He resumed private medical practice in Australia in 1920, and became one of Australia's best known skin specialists till his retirement in 1959. The Very Reverend Dr Alan C Watson, who conducted the funeral service, said, 'He was an honoured member of the community of healing, recognized by his colleagues for his specialist abilities, and beloved by his patients for his skill and compassionate care. He was a great reader, especially of books about real people, and this was related to what was perhaps his keenest intellectual interest, his immersion in the history of Victoria, and of its families. His knowledge in this field was probably unique. In these and in other areas of knowledge and action he was a centre for many people; they came to him for information, for discussion, for argument—how he loved it—and for support. And all this they received in generous measure'.

Six of Roland’s brothers also attended the School during the 1880s and early 1890s including Marcus Edwy Wettenhall a grazier who became the Country Party Member for Lowan between 1920 and 1935 serving briefly as a Minister in 1923/4 during the Lawson government.

Sources: Bryan Gandevia, 'Wettenhall, Roland Ravenscroft (1882 - 1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pp 451-452; Browne, G, Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament 1900-84. Pegasus April, 1912 p10; Pegasus December, 1965 p15.
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