Tragic loss to medicine and music

By Nathan Crombie

The death of Masterton GP Simon Prior on Saturday has brought to a close an abundant and historic chapter of medicine and music in the town.

Dr Prior, 58, died in Wellington Hospital surrounded by family and friends after a brief illness.

His son, David, an anaesthetic registrar at Wellington Hospital, said his father had attended and retained very close ties with Rathkeale College and in numerous ways had distinguished his medical career and love of music.

Dr Prior studied medicine at Otago University and started in general practice beside his father Owen Prior at the Perry St surgery in 1985 after his return to the region with wife, Robyn.

Mrs Prior had previously worked as a primary school teacher and the couple had three children; David, Sarah and William.

His grandfather Norman Henry Prior was the first GP in the family to open a practice in Masterton in 1909 and his father had also been a long-time surgeon at the former Masterton Hospital.

In 2009, the family celebrated 100 years of doctoring in the region and in 2011, Sarah Prior worked a term as a locum at the Masterton Medical super-surgery, of which Dr Prior was a founding partner.

She also had studied at the surgery and was the fourth generation of Priors to work as a doctor in the town.

David Prior said his father had been on the paediatrics roster at Wairarapa Hospital until about five years ago and was one of the few GPs in New Zealand still involved with obstetrics.

Music also had been a constant for his father, who had been a multi-instrumentalist and founder of the Rathkeale College school band, Virgin Would.

Dr Prior had played electric bass in the band and played acoustic guitar and piano as well. He also was a keen barber shop quartet singer, who coached the form and founded family quartets for special occasions.

His father's musical bent had been most inherited by his youngest son, William, who had in his time at Rathkeale College paid homage to his father, forming a band called Virgin Wood.

Dr Prior also is survived by his first grandchild, Luca, with whom he had shared a close bond before his death.

A service is to be held for Dr Prior in the sanctuary of Rathkeale Auditorium at the Willow Park Drive college on Saturday at 2pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the children's or maternity ward at Wairarapa Hospital.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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