Farewell to a great man from Cobargo history

Daughter Deborah, wife Anne and Reuben Glass

It’s with great sorrow I inform you of the death of Dr Reuben Glass in Melbourne on Sunday 10 November.

Reuben, his wife Pauline and daughter Rachel arrived in Cobargo in 1958. It was Reuben’s first posting as a GP after his hospital training in Melbourne, and I was his first patient in Cobargo. I was three years old. He diagnosed my heart problem and sent me to Sydney for an operation. He probably saved my life. At the funeral a few doctors came up to me saying that Reuben would mention my case in class—they were students in his doctor training days.

The Glasses came to Cobargo after Reuben heard of the town’s need—there was a house available, rent free, for a doctor. They stayed in Cobargo for about three and a half years. Reuben’s doctoring efforts in Cobargo reached legendary status, from sewing Jenny Whiffen’s foot back on after a tractor accident, to setting Clem Walsh’s wife’s broken leg in the back of Auntie Norma’s car at 1 am one Sunday morning.

May Blacka tells the story of Reuben treating three of her five children one afternoon, then Pauline going back to her house to help put dinner on and settle all the kids into bed. One of the boys had cut part of his finger off. Reuben said, ‘If you find it when you get back, clean it up, put it in the fridge, bring it up in the morning and I’ll sew it on.’ May said, ‘I will if the chooks haven’t eaten it!’ They hadn’t, and the next morning he stitched it back on.

Reuben had a great love of nature and the environment. Dad would take him horse-riding up Peak Alone on Sunday afternoons after church.

After the Glasses went back to Melbourne they continued to visit. Their second child, Deborah, was born in Bega Hospital during one stay; Mum looked after Rachel while Pauline was in hospital. Reuben went on to pursue further study in England and became a highly regarded paediatrician, later teaching at Monash University. Deborah is now State Ombudsman for Victoria.

Reuben Glass with former patient Jenny Whiffen and her daughter and granddaughter at the pub in December 2017. Reuben got the chance to admire his handiwork—he’d sewn Jenny’s foot back on 60 years before.

Reuben, with his second wife Anne and Deborah, visited Cobargo after Christmas in 2017 and May Blacka organised a get-together at Cobargo Hotel with old friends and patients. My brother Kevin and Reuben saw Bruce Russell in the street. Kevin said, ‘Bruce, do you remember Dr Glass?’ Bruce lifted up his T-shirt and showed them the scar from a kidney operation Reuben had done when Bruce was a young boy.

Jenny Whiffen was there at the pub with her daughter and granddaughter. They took her boot and sock off, and Reuben got down on his knees and looked at the foot he had sewn back on 60 years earlier.

A great man and a wonderful life lived.

Gordon Allen

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