Betty Maggs obituary
My mother, Betty Maggs, known professionally as Dr Betty Wright, who has died aged 95, was a third-generation doctor who worked in the family practice in north-west London for much of her career.
Born in the Little Venice area, she was the daughter of Edward Wright, a general practitioner, and Dorothy (nee Templeton), a nurse until her marriage. Betty attended South Hampstead high school for girls and, as a result of wartime evacuation, a school in the US. On her return to London, she studied medicine at the Royal Free Medical School, graduating in 1951. After an internship in Jamaica, she went straight into the busy family practice, where she used to joke about being known as Dr Somebody, as in “Somebody will come round to see you.”
In 1955 she married John Maggs, an antiquarian bookseller; their families were close, and they had known each other since childhood.
As a doctor she was conscientious and serious about treating underlying causes of health conditions. She was courageous, independent, generous and selfless: she was also deeply unconventional. Once she hunted down a patient’s absent husband to make him pay his maintenance, a treatment probably not in the textbooks but which the patient’s family believed helped to cure their mother.
Betty combined work and intellectual interests – theology and psychiatry, plus a smattering of whatever came along – with the chaos of family life and also helping John. For his business, she was in the foreground catering for social events, and in the background as adviser, as well as helping to run the family’s caravan site (an idyllic old-fashioned place) on Hayling Island, Hampshire, where her father had built a fine art deco house. She also found time with John to buy and restore a farmhouse in Pembrokeshire.
In 1972 Betty retired from full-time work in the practice and became a specialist family planning practitioner in various clinics, finally retiring fully in 1996.
She loved gardening, nature and the sea. A skilled and competitive sailor, she was sailing into her 90s, commanding the vessel from her wheelchair on her last trip. When asked for her boat’s handicap, she would reply: “A male crew.”
John died in 2013. Betty is survived by their four children, Christine, Alison, Elizabeth and me, and by four grandchildren.