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Our Story

The Garnett Passe & Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation was established in 1986 by Mrs Barbara Williams to honour the memory of her two husbands. We became operational in 1991 following Barbara’s death.

  • Barbara Slatter was born in 1908 in Kenya.

    After her father’s death in 1915, Barbara moved with her mother and siblings to Rhodesia where she completed her schooling. Barbara attended the Edinburgh College of Arts and then worked for Liberty’s of London. She met her future husband, Garnett Passe in 1933 when she provided the illustrations for his Otolaryngology book, The Singing Voice. In early 1939, Barbara went to India to see her brother and paint the locals but returned to England on the first convoy through the Suez Canal after the outbreak of WWII. She married Garnett Passe at the Marylebone Registry Office in December 1939 and went with him to Plymouth, where she served as an air raid warden.

    In 1945, Garnett and Barbara purchased the remainder of the 999-year lease on 36 Weymouth Street Marylebone, London. Barbara retained this house for the rest of her life, including the 16 years she was married to her second husband, Rodney Williams.

  • Edward Roland Garnett Passe was born in Johannesburg in 1904 and moved with his Australian parents to Victoria in 1907.

    Garnett graduated in dentistry from the University of Melbourne in 1926 and immediately departed for England to study medicine at the London Hospital. After becoming fascinated with the specialty of otolaryngology, he decided not to return to Australia. He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1929 and by the outbreak of WWII had attained the rank of Surgeon Commander. He married Barbara Slatter in December 1939 and took her with him to Plymouth, where he served at the Royal Naval Hospital. He also participated in dangerous artic convoys to the northern Russian port of Murmansk.

    After the war, Garnett quickly established himself as a pioneer of the fenestration operation to treat the deafness of otosclerosis. He was also one of the first British surgeons to advocate sympathectomy for the treatment of nerve deafness, tinnitus and Meniere’s Disease. Garnett suffered from essential hypertension and died in 1952 at age 48.

  • Rodney Wellington Williams was born in Richmond, New York in 1892, and descended from generations of New England forebears.

    Following his mother’s death, Rodney was brought up by his uncle and aunt in Baltimore and attended the Gilman School. After two years at Yale, Rodney quit university to work full time for the stockbroking firm, Tucker Anthony and R.L. Day Inc. After serving in the US Navy as a seaman during World War I, he returned to the same stockbroking firm where he rose to become floor partner in charge of trading at the New York Stock Exchange. Rodney’s interests included historical preservation, golf and hunting.

    He met his second wife, Barbara Passe at a house party weekend in Scotland where he was a regular visitor for the grouse shooting season. They married in 1968 and divided their time between homes in South Carolina, Massachusetts and England. When Rodney died in 1984, at age 91, he left a substantial bequest to Barbara which enabled her to establish the Foundation.

Our Establishment

Through her marriage to Garnett, Barbara learnt how difficult it was for a young surgeon to obtain specialist medical training in OHNS. After Garnett’s premature death, Barbara decided to address this problem. Her initial idea was to provide support to young ENT surgical trainees, which was further developed and broadened with the assistance of Sydney Cocks and Myles Formby.

After her marriage to Rodney Williams in 1968, Barbara continued with negotiations on her estate. Following Rodney’s death in 1984, when he left a substantial bequest to Barbara, she determined to establish a single Trust to support OHNS in Australia, which would be dedicated to the memory of her two husbands. The Trust Deed was signed in 1986 to establish The Garnett Passe & Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation.

Often referred to as 'The Garnett Passe Foundation' by the ENT fraternity, in 2022 the Foundation registered 'Passe & Williams Foundation' as a business name of the Trust, which is now being widely used to ensure that both Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams are duly recognised for their influence and contributions.

Barbara was clear that her bequest must only be used in the pursuit of excellence. The Trustees have remained faithful to her wishes and have encapsulated this principle in the motto that forms part of the crest of the Foundation, namely “Semper ad Excellentiam Persequendam” – Always in Pursuit of Excellence.

We extend thanks to medical writer and historian Tina Allen for researching the history of our settlors and cataloguing the Foundation’s archival material. Tina's research provides the basis for a significant part of this web page's content.

Want to learn more?

Download an extended history of the Passe & Williams Foundation, as written by the first Trustees, by clicking the link below.