Pat: We met in the first week of first-year medicine at the University of Sydney, but it could have been earlier. It was 1949, and Bill was walking down the street near our residential colleges with a mutual friend who introduced us. I immediately said, “Bill Ryan, you’re the boy who didn’t come to my party!” We started seeing each other at lectures, where Bill used to save a seat for me, and it wasn’t long before we were going out. By the end of the first year, we made up our minds that we would stay together, but I didn’t want to get married until I finished my residency. If that had happened, I knew I’d have got pregnant in no time and would never become a doctor. So we courted for eight years before it finally happened. A month later, we arrived in Nowra where Bill’s father was practising, but he was already ‘Dr Ryan’. So Bill became ‘Dr Bill’ and I became ‘Dr Pat’. That is what people still call us. Working and living together in a small town has been easy for us because we are the best of friends apart from anything else — although we are both very strong-willed. We don’t spend our entire time talking medicine, but we have supported each other when things have been tough at work. We’ve also worked in forensic medicine and Bill was made president of the World Police Medical Officers association. But our greatest achievement is our family. For our 60th wedding anniversary last month, we had four kids and all but one of our 18 grandkids around for a party. The only one missing was an Olympic medallist, who was competing in a sailing tournament overseas.

Dr Bill Ryan (left) And Dr Pat Ryan
Nowra, NSW