It is rare when you can say that you knew a person before they were famous. It is rarer that you can say the “public” person was the same person in private. One of absolute integrity with a razor-sharp mind, remarkable work ethic, but above all – a great guy.
That unique person was Dr Harry Nespolon. Much has been written about his commitment to general practice and in particular his time as President of the RACGP, (Royal Australian College of General Practice) so I will focus more on the man himself.
Harry and I first met in 1995. We gelled as mates from day one. Maybe it was a common heritage – both being sons of post war European migrants, a love of footy (AFL) or a love of red wine – who knows. But I am forever grateful that our paths crossed back then.
Aside his medical degree Harry had a legal and economics degree and in the late 1990’s did an MBA. The ability to see issues from different angles and think laterally set him apart and enabled him to see solutions where others saw problems. This was applied in his general practices as well as his roles in Primary Health Networks (and their predecessors) and in GP education.
Harry had an innate feel for what was needed. His engaging manner and brilliant mind enabled him to succeed where others failed.
True to his Italian ancestry Harry loved a good meal and we shared many at a multitude of restaurants generally with a bottle of red – South Australian shiraz being his preference as a good Adelaide boy. He would entertain with stories. We would laugh ourselves silly at some of the antics of those who take themselves too seriously. His John Laws impersonation had me in tears.
A passionate Carlton fan Harry was old enough to have seen the glory days of the 1980’s and longed to see the Blues rise again. He enjoyed travel including trips back to the north of Italy and long lunches with relatives. Later in life, one would not find a more devoted father to his two girls, who he called his butterflies, or his loving partner.
We chatted (often at length) every week or two. On all sorts of topics. There was always laughter, banter and thought provocation.
Harry’s life was full, and he touched the lives of countless thousands. His legacy will live on. They say in show biz – leave them wanting more. Harry, I speak for us all when I say we wanted you to have more years. Rest in peace.
A version of this obituary first appeared here
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases and is an advisor to Reed Medical Conferences.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA.