May 18, 2020

The Life of Dr James Cummins

Celebrating a Beloved Member of the Assumption Community

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Vale Dr James Cummins

“If you learnt something today it was a good day.”

Recently, the greater Assumption community lost a cherished member when Old Collegian Dr Jim Cummins passed on 23 February.

Dr Cummins boarded at Assumption for three years and carried its lessons, friendships and Marist values with him throughout his life. At this time, over 300 boarders called Assumption home. Dr Cummins held fond memories of this time and the Marist Brothers that guided the students through their education.

After graduating from Assumption College, Dr Cummins studied medicine at the University of Melbourne until 1958 before taking a residency at St Vincent’s Hospital in 1959.

Dr Cummins wasn’t only dedicated to serving the sick, he also served his country in the Royal Australian Airforce. After his residency at St Vincent’s, he served as a medical officer in the RAAF from 1960– 1964.

After his time in the RAAF, he began training as a General Surgeon, with the goal of a career in neurosurgery. He received his Fellowship of the English College of Surgeons in 1967 and spent 4 years training as a neurosurgeon in England.

In 1971, Dr Cummins was appointed the Neurosurgeon at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1982.

He practiced at St Vincent’s until 1999, serving as the Head of the Unit for the last 12 years of his time there. He then continued private practice for five years.

His career saw great change in his industry and specialty with the introduction of CAT scans, MRIs and other technology. He achieved great things, developing experimental models in sheep and publishing research extensively in medical and scientific journals.

He was appointed Principal Research Fellow with the National Health and Medical Research Council in 1985 – and accepted a full professorship from the University of Melbourne in 1986. From 1998 to 2016, he was included by the Governor-in-Council on a roster of practitioners who worked on medical panels, and served on hundreds of panels in this time.

Dr Cummins credited the Marist brothers with teaching him the importance of fair and sound decisions.

‘I was taught to question everything – to ask “Why?” and “How?”.’  
Dr Cummins

Jim Cummins lived by values of respect, integrity, honesty, patience and appreciation. An expert surgeon, loyal Kangaroos fan, devoted husband and loving father, there is no doubt that the world was made better by his presence – and that he will be missed, and celebrated, by all whose lives he touched.

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