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Humphrey Kay, who edited the Journal of Clinical Pathology from 1972 until 1980, has died at the age of 86. He succeeded the founding editor, Gordon Signy, and during his tenure consolidated the format of the Journal which largely holds to this day. Under his control and encouragement it became a monthly publication which attracted papers from all branches of pathology and stressed the clinical aspects rather than mere laboratory aspects of disease. He was concerned with the concept of clinical pathology at a time when pressures from individual disciplines seemed to be dividing pathology into independent and rather self-centred domains. This concern reflected his training at St Thomas' Hospital and he initiated a series of reviews which crossed specialty disciplines, stressing the essential unity of clinical pathology. He recognised that managing laboratories was an important function of pathologists, to ensure the delivery of highest quality services to patients, when many gave little thought to this and used the Journal to propagate messages concerning health and safety in laboratories and the cost effectiveness of pathology services before it was a gleam in the eye of politicians.