On Thursday morning November 8, 2007, Professor Gérard Cathelineau collapsed on the street in front of the Ministry of Health in Paris where he had an appointment. He could not be resuscitated. A few minutes earlier, he had left his apartment rue Pierre-et-Marie-Curie after wishing a good day to his wife Beryl… So ended the life of a dear friend and a respected colleague…
Born on August 24, 1935, Gérard did not follow the path of his father, an appreciated veterinary. He moved to Paris to enter Medical School where he graduated Doctor in Medicine in 1966. His curriculum was classical externe, interne, assistant, chef de clinique . In 1971, he got the two prestigious titles of maître de conférences agrégé and médecin des hôpitaux de Paris.
Professor since 1973, he succeeded Professor Jean Canivet as Head of the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes at the hôpital Saint-Louis of Paris in 1985. Professor Cathelineau has had a strong impact on the care of people with diabetes in France. Between 1985 and 1989, he was General Secretary of the Association française des diabétiques. Between 1995–1997, he was President of both the Association de langue française pour l’étude du diabète et des maladies métaboliques (ALFEDIAM) and the collège des médecins des hôpitaux de Paris. He was a founding member of the Conseil supérieur du diabète in France, an active supporter of the European St Vincent Declaration and a Scientific Advisor to the Caisse nationale de l’assurance maladie (CNAM) until recently.
He has been a pioneer in Therapeutic Education (a field in which his wife Beryl wrote her MD Thesis), he was an active participant in the EURODIAB network and has contributed, with the Saint-Louis team headed by the Nobel Prize laureate Jean Dausset, to a better understanding of the genetics of Type 1 diabetes and the role played by HLA. He created the first Ophtalmo-Diabetes Unit in Paris.
Professor Cathelineau chaired the Organizing Committee of the 18th IDF World Diabetes Congress held in Paris in 2003. It was not an easy task to coordinate the action of the various sub-committees and to integrate the legal aspects of the French Napoleon Code civil with those of the British Common Law under which the PCO was operating. The Congress has been a huge success and many remember the glorious Presidential Dinner hosted by Beryl and Gérard Cathelineau at the Hôtel de Ville de Paris.
Gérard had a fascinating personality. He was a great reader with an immense culture. He was proud of his origins in Vendée related as he was to the famous catholic and royalist General Cathelineau. He enjoyed staying during the weekends and the summer time in his family home in Saint-Hilaire at the border of the Marais Poitevin.
He could ride his horse seven consecutive hours in stag-hunting… Only a few know that he was writing excellent poems. Just open Google, type Temporel.fr, click on N° 4 and then on Poésie : Gérard Cathelineau. Here is a gift of our friends: wonderful Poèmes Au Fil du Temps by Gérard (alias Jessé) and delicate related aquarelles by Beryl.
We all can dream of a death like that of Gérard Cathelineau, sudden, no long suffering, on the way to work… So sad that it occurred much too early…
Beryl, we offer to you the condolences and the friendship of the many friends and colleagues of Gérard in the French, French-speaking and international diabetes communities.
December 15, 2007