A WELL-respected doctor who helped to shape Stroke services in Rotherham has died aged 70 after a five-year battle with cancer.
Dr James Mathias Okwera, who died at home on February 9, had been diagnosed with both prostate and kidney cancer.
Born in Uganda on August 21, 1949, Dr Okwera studied to become a doctor at Makerere University in Kampala in 1969.
After graduating in 1974, he worked as a doctor for Nairobi City Council between 1975 and 1978, before undertaking a masters in medicine in Kenya in 1981.
He furthered his medical experience in Saudi Arabia and London, before heading to Rotherham Hospital in 1989, where he was senior house consultant for Dr Bijoy Mondal, who became a lifelong friend.
Dr Okwera undertook extra medical training in Sheffield and Nottingham before taking up his first consultant role in Bassetlaw in 1996.
He became a consultant physician, specialising in Stroke medicine, at Rotherham Hospital a year later.
Dr Okwera’s wife Pamela said her husband absolutely loved his job and had helped to form Stroke services in Rotherham.
“James absolutely loved working at Rotherham Hospital - it was his life,” added Mrs Okwera, of Wickersley.
“He had a high regard for everyone he worked with and said he wouldn’t have been able to do the job without them.”
The couple, who were together for 29 years and married in 2003, met at Rotherham Hospital after Mrs Okwera went to pick up her sister, who was working there as a nurse.
Mrs Okwera went on to work at the hospital as an auxiliary nurse for seven years.
Dr Okwera worked his way through the ranks and became clinical director for the Stroke department, which Mrs Okwera said had been a career highlight for him.
He also fundraised with his team to help improve the hospital’s sensory garden, created for Stroke patients.
Dr Okwera retired five years ago, aged 65, due to ill health.
Outside of work, he had a big passion for basketball and had in his youth played in Uganda at an international level.
He also liked football and enjoyed watching any game on TV.
Dr Okwera leaves seven children, including Wesley, Carlton and Estelle, who he had with Pamela - and Vivian, Julia, Andrew and Jackie, who he had with a previous partner, as well as seven grandchildren.
His young son Steven, died at age four.
Dr Okwera’s wife described her husband as a private, family-orientated man who dearly loved his family, some of which still live in Uganda.
She also wanted to thank the people who helped her care for him before his death, including the roaming team at Rotherham Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, and Rotherham Hospice.
Dr Okwera’s funeral will be held at Rotherham Crematorium today (Tuesday) at 4.15pm.
A request has been made for family flowers only, but donations are being accepted in aid of Rotherham Hospice.