Boggabri loses one of its own

BOGGABRI has lost one of its favourite sons after the death of longstanding GP John Prior.

Dr Prior passed away on January 29 at the age of 92 and was laid to rest at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery in Sydney yesterday.

A memorial service for the popular doctor will be held in Boggabri at Sacred Heart Catholic Church tomorrow at 11am.

Dr Prior, who received the Australian Medical Association’s 50 years of service medal in 1996, retired in 2002 at the age of 80 after almost 50 years working as a GP in the small town, with wife Betty serving as his practice nurse for almost 30 years.

The ultimate tribute to his lifelong commitment to the Boggabri district came in 2003 when the town’s new multi-purpose health service was named the John Prior Health Service.

At the time of his retirement he was believed to be the longest-serving GP in NSW, certainly among the last of the “old-style GPs” who did everything from delivering babies and house calls to emergency surgery and even dentistry and veterinary procedures when the need arose.

Dr Prior finished medical school in 1945 and, after a year working in a hospital, joined the army for the next four years where he served as a pathologist and surgeon at the Australian General Hospital and Beecroft General Hospital in Japan. There he met Betty, who was serving as a nurse in the occupational force.

On their return to Australia they settled in Boggabri and had six children.

Dr Prior was more than just the town’s faithful GP, though.

He was involved in Rotary where he was honoured with the presentation of a Paul 

Harris Fellowship in 1996, was patron of the Boggabri Rugby League Football Club, a past president and life member of the local pony club, honorary member of the Wean Picnic Race Club, vice-president of the Prior House Frail Aged Home, and patron of the 

Boggabri branch of the Royal Far West Children’s Health Scheme. 

In recognition of these efforts, he was invested with the Order of Australia Medal in 1998 and received the Premier’s Community Service Award in 2007.

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