Desmond J. Longford

Published 5:04 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Desmond Longford, M.D., was a well-known, community-focused family medical practitioner who served the town of Smithfield for more than five decades. Many generations of families throughout Isle of Wight and Surry counties will remember him as a caring doctor who was there for them in times of need, who took a genuine interest in his patients and who loved to talk to them and learn about their families, a philosophy of family practice that he inherited from his father.

Dr. Longford was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where his father had practiced medicine before moving to Kent, England. When war broke out in 1939, Desmond, brothers Dalzell and Patrick, and sister Jean, were sent to relatives in Northern Ireland. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin and qualified from The Queen’s University Medical School in 1956. While at university, he was an active member of the rowing club.

At Queen’s he met Rosemary (medical school 1954). They married in London in 1961, and she joined him in the family practice in Kent that had once been his father’s. Their honeymoon in America included a stay with fellow Queen’s University graduate Bernard F. Jamison, who had started as a family practitioner in Smithfield. The two doctors had previously been part of an Irish contingent completing their medical training in Petersburg, and when Dr. Jamison asked Desmond to join the growing family practice that became Smithfield Medical Clinic, he left England and moved his young family to Virginia.

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Many of the patients he cared for over the years will remember his kindness. He was committed to his patients and would often make house calls at all times of day or night. He also was a familiar face in care homes and hospitals, where he was a frequent visitor, as well as at Surry Power Station where he carried out physicals for many years.

Upon retirement, he was not ready to stop caring for others. He offered his services at the Surry Area Free Clinic before becoming one of the founders of the Western Tidewater Free Clinic in Suffolk in 2007. He served for many years as medical examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and was a lifelong member of the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association and many other medical organizations.

He had a life-long interest for books, reading voraciously, particularly biographies and military history, and an avid interest in vintage cars. He was passionate about his family and friends and loved to keep up with both close and distant relatives and friends across the world.

He is predeceased by his parents, William and Elizabeth Longford; siblings, Patrick and Jean, and leaves his wife Rosemary, his four children Nicola (Habib; Dallas, Texas), Desmond (Allison; Knoxville, Tenn.), Richard (Heather; Plymouth, United Kingdom) and Sarah (Karl; Rome, Italy); three grandchildren Zoë, Eve and Aidan; and brother Dalzell (Canada).

He will be hugely missed.

A private family service (limited to 10 due to COVID restrictions) was held on Jan. 7 at St. Luke’s, Smithfield, before Dr. Longford’s cremation. The family will schedule a memorial service at a later date.

Donations may be made to the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, Suffolk, VA 23434,