The depth of the void left by the death of Wits University special projects director, Miriam Abrams was apparent in the tributes delivered by the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellors (academic and finance) and Faculty of Health Sciences and School of Law representatives, at her memorial service held at the Origins Centre, West Campus on 3 March 2011.
A Wits University stalwart for over 30 years, Abrams died in Johannesburg of cancer, on 26 February 2011, aged 53.
Born in Johannesburg on 3 November 1958, Abrams pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree at Wits in 1976. In 1981, she joined what was then the Faculty of Medicine as a secretary, and moved to the Faculty of Engineering in 1982 as a faculty assistant. She married fellow Witsie, Rashad Bagus (BEd 1989, MEd in 1992) in 1986.
In 1988, Abrams became faculty secretary in the Faculty of Law where she progressed to the position of assistant registrar. She assumed the same position in the Faculty of Arts in 1991 but returned to the law faculty the following year as administrative manager.
In 1997, Abrams became Deputy Registrar: Academic and Research, in the Office of the Registrar. Her profound institutional knowledge and history with the University resulted in her secondment to the Wits 2001 team, where she managed the academic and support service restructuring exercise. She became the Wits director in 2001.
In 2006, the Office of the Vice-Chancellor appointed her director of special projects, a position she held with considerable success until her death.
University leadership and staff in general sought her advice on a range of institutional matters and there is much of the Wits recent development attributable to her guidance.
A stalwart and benefactor of Wits University, philanthropist Dr Anvir Adam (MBBCh 1964, DTM&H 1986, DPH 1988) died on 25 November 2011, after a long battle with cancer. He was 74.
Born in Pretoria on 12 March 1937, Adam matriculated from Pretoria Indian Intermediary School. He earned a science degree from the University of Cape Town before studying medicine at Wits. A student activist, Adam protested for the rights of black medical students. Working conditions for these medical students subsequently improved at some teaching hospitals.
Adam served in the Department of Health for two years after graduating and published on the topics of primary healthcare and epidemiology. In 1973, the College of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) admitted Adam as a member of the Family Physicians College, and made him a lifetime member 30 years later. The Royal Society of Medicine (UK) made him an affiliate in 1978. The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (UK) elected him as a Fellow in 1990.
Renowned and revered for his commitment to community service, continuing medical education (CME) and research, Adam co-founded the Wits Medical Faculty Research Endowment Fund soon after graduating. He also co-founded the Pretoria Medical Discussion Group, a reputable CME forum in which he was active until his death.
He testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and his evidence along with that of others resulted in medical academia issuing a formal apology, and the erection of a statue at the Wits Medical School to commemorate the struggle of oppressed healthcare workers during apartheid.
A champion of the African Renaissance, Adam contributed to preserving ancient manuscripts in Mali as part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) cultural project.
The University awarded him a Gold Medal in 2004 for his voluntary philanthropy and for supporting resource development, such as the cyber library, at Wits. The National Award of the Baobab and the Stella Soliderieta Italiana, bestowed in 2007, were further testament to his philanthropy. The University of South Africa awarded him an honorary degree in 2010.
Adam ran a community practice until his death. His wife, four children and six grandchildren survive him.
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The former Deputy Director of the Cement and Concrete Institute (C&CI), Dr Brian Addis (PhD Civil 1992), died suddenly on 20 June 2011, aged 70. Born on 28 January 1941, Addis attended Pretoria Boys’ High. He held a PhD on the topic of high-strength concrete and the industry respected his technical knowledge. He wrote many of the C&CI’s technical publications and published widely, both locally and abroad. He took early retirement from C&CI in 1996. He creatively applied his engineering acumen to sculpting in concrete, also publishing in this field. The C&CI’s centre in Midrand displays two of his creations, while his 4.5-metre high Abstract Form sculpture is on display at the Portland Cement Institute of South Africa in Johannesburg. Addis also took to woodwork, constructing mechanical masterpieces including pachinkos (a Japanese gambling game similar to pinball), automatons and clocks. He was Chairman of the Cabinet Makers Group at the time of his death.
Ken Addison was born in Salisbury in the then Southern Rhodesia. He attended Prince Edward High School and Milton High School in Bulawayo. In 1940, he volunteered for military service and served in East Africa and Burma. In 1945 he enrolled in Wits as one of the 3 year Donga Docs' under Prof John Phillips. After graduation he joined the Agricultural Department in Rhodesia as a Pasture Research Officer. In 1963, Ken and his family emigrated to Queensland Australia. He worked as senior agristologist for the department of primary industries and was the officer in charge at Brian Pastures Research Station in Gayndah, Queensland until his retirement in 1983. Ken passed away on the 4th September 2007.
Dr Michael John Aggett, 63 (DTM&H, 1995) died unexpectedly while jogging near his home in Prince Albert. He is survived by his wife, Mavis and his five sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.
Dr Bernard Stott Akerman (MBBCh 1958) died 4 December 2007. Born 22 December 1932 in Pietermaritzburg, Akerman matriculated from Michaelhouse. In addition to a medical degree, he held Red Cross first aid and nursing certificates and a pilots licence. He specialised in anaesthetics then practised in Durban in the sixties. He married Pamela Reardon in 1966 and they had two children. The family returned to England where Akerman studied histopathology, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in 1992. He published extensively in conjunction with the Natal Medical School and, at his retirement in 1997, was department head at both Addington and the Natal Regional Laboratory Services.
It’s a privilege to have been asked to say a few words about Cedric Akerman (MBBCh 1947). He was my uncle and, when I became older, he was also my friend. After his retirement, Cedric devoted much of his time to researching and writing the history of the Akerman family. We enjoyed many animated conversations during which he looked back on his life with amused detachment, as if it was interesting subject matter for a book, which it later became when he wrote his autobiography called From Herbalism to High Care. He wrote it, he told me, for his grandchildren. It wasn’t an act of vanity, but an affirmation of his belief in the intrinsic value of history and passing history from one generation to the next. We all remember those we love in different ways and it’s not always desirable to put labels on people. If I had to do so, I think I would have called my uncle Cedric a practical romantic. These were the opposing forces that often pulled him in different directions, especially during his younger life. On the one hand, there was the grand romantic gesture and on the other there were the practical demands of life that had to be acceded to.
Cedric was born on 25 October 1922 in his parents’ home at 95 Howick Rd, Pietermaritzburg. He was born into a family that was both privileged and, let’s be honest, fairly eccentric. His father, Conrad, inherited a fortune on the death of his father, after which he stopped practising medicine and followed his passion, which was entomology. He worked at the Natal Museum for 40 years and never took home a salary. Cedric admitted this made him quite a confusing role model and in later life he always felt torn about charging for his services as a doctor. In fact, he took the decision not to charge nuns and priests at his practice. Needless to say, word got around ecclesiastical circles and, although this might have been good for business, it wasn’t good for the bottom line.
In many early family photographs I see Cedric holding a little sailing boat and staring confidently at the camera. Next to him is another little boy, my father, Coneth John. His mother was Cedric’s mother’s aunt, who died in childbirth. Family legend has it that doctors advised her against having children, but she found Christian Science and went ahead anyway. Conrad married Vera Stott, his niece by marriage, something disallowed by the law in Natal at the time. So they got married in Cape Town and went on a honeymoon to Niagara Falls while friends in high places changed the law. My father was a sickly child and conventional medicine at the time did little to ameliorate his condition. So when Cedric was 18 months old, the family packed up and went to Denver Colorado to consult a world-renowned homoeopath. While they were about it, they threw in an around-the-world trip. The homoeopath in Denver advised that a vegetarian diet would work wonders for my father, so the family promptly became vegetarian. Cedric only really experienced the downside of this when he got to Michaelhouse and, like my father, was given the nickname "Veg".
One of my friends once remarked that if Vera Akerman -- known to all us grandchildren as Mopsie -- had been of our generation, she would have been a hippie. She flirted with Christian Science, vegetarianism and many other fads, but was also a great gardener and entertainer. Cedric and his brothers were all fairly retiring, but he was probably the most gregarious on social occasions. He’d hoped to go to Cordwalles, as my father had done, but instead was given private tuition with his cousin Joan Harwin, under the tutelage of Enid Hammond, a family friend and teacher who was unemployed. So Cedric didn’t get to go to school until much later when Enid Hammond found a permanent teaching job. He often remarked that it was quite a shock to suddenly be one of many boys, especially when strings were pulled with the headmaster for him to be the only day scholar at Cordwalles. In many ways, Cedric would have had a fairly lonely childhood. By the time he got to Cordwalles, my father was at Michaelhouse and by the time he got to Michaelhouse, my father was already at university. He had three younger brothers: Raymond, Robin and Bernard. Raymond and Robin both died tragically young and, as that was Mopsie’s way of dealing with things, they were seldom mentioned again. There are many childhood photos of Cedric with these beautiful little boys and that loss was something he carried with him for the rest of his life. Ten years separated him and Bernard. In adult life they were good friends, but they were too far apart to have been childhood companions.
At Michaelhouse Cedric excelled as a marksman and went on to be captain of the school’s shooting team. Interestingly, the Akerman family had a deep conservationist tradition and his grandfather, Clement Stott, seemed to have embraced the pioneer philosophy that went, "if it moves, shoot it. If it stands still, chop it down." Cedric speaks of his father’s dismay when Clement very generously presented them with the heads of several stuffed animals. From an early age, Cedric knew he wanted to be a doctor and he followed my father to the University of the Witwatersrand. By that time the Second World War had already broken out. He had made one unsuccessful attempt to enlist while still in Pietermaritzburg, but had been kicked out of the army when they discovered he was only 17. Dreams of serving his country, fighting fascism and seeing the world had to be put on hold as the army needed doctors and medical students were not allowed to enlist. At some point, Jan Smuts made an off-the-cuff remark that any man who wanted to serve his country could enlist. Cedric and his friend, Tony Pitcher, took Field Marshal Smuts at his word and enlisted. The army used this as a publicity stunt and they got their photograph on the front page of the Rand Daily Mail.
So Cedric went up north and was part of the Italian campaign, which entailed some of the most vicious fighting of the Second World War. He was a medical orderly, as the army was certainly not going to allow a fifth-year medical student to be an infantryman. His experiences during the war made a deep impression and occupy the greatest part of his autobiography. One person who had mixed feelings about him joining up, was a young nurse called Yvonne Robinson. Cedric had met and fallen in love with her and knew he wanted to marry her. The romantic was being pulled in two directions and, in that case, joining the army prevailed. During his absence Yvonne dated Peter Clarke, slightly senior to Cedric. When Cedric returned from the war, the university allowed him to complete his last two years in one year. Obviously, application to his studies would take up most of his time. He had already laid siege to Yvonne and was being quite successful at dislodging Peter Clarke in her affections, but realised he didn’t have enough time to date her and pass his exams. So here the practical romantic stepped in and he asked her to marry him, while he was still a student. That meant, he said, he didn’t have to date her and she could cook his meals.
Cedric bought a medical practice in Pietermaritzburg and put a brass plaque outside the front door with his name on it. In those days, doctors couldn’t advertise plastic surgery safaris on the Internet. It took a while to get his practice off the ground, but eventually, in spite of the strong ecclesiastical contingent, Cedric built up a very successful medical practice. My first strong memories are of staying with my cousins Peter, Sue and Hugh at Heathwylde Road in Wembley. It may seem hard to believe, but coming from rural Hillcrest, Pietermaritzburg seemed racy and glamorous. I remember being taken by them to see Pat Boone singing at the ice rink in Durban. This was life in the fast lane. Cedric, Yvonne and their friends had dinner parties, drank ginger squares and smoked Ransom with miracle filters. But I remember being woken up by the phone at three o’clock in the morning, seeing lights go on and shortly after that Cedric got into his Ford Fairlane and did a house call, all in the interests of subsidising three children at private school. When we went to the cinema, I remember slides appearing in the middle of a James Bond film asking Dr Akerman to go to Gray’s Hospital, where he would have delivered a child or removed in appendix before James Bond had given Dr No his comeuppance.
I was away from South Africa for almost 20 years and when I returned I started calling Uncle Cedric just Cedric. I suppose that meant he wasn’t just my uncle any more, but was also my friend. By then he had retired. Sadly, Yvonne, who he’d been in love with before he went off to fight fascism in Europe, was not to share his retirement with him, as she succumbed to emphysema and died in 1990. It was a hard blow to endure, but he was supported by the love of his children, grandchildren and friends and went on to live a full life for another two decades. He immersed himself in family history and produced two books; his autobiography and a biography of his grandfather Sir John Akerman, entitled The Reluctant Adventurer. As long as his health permitted he travelled, went to theatre and concerts, and shared the loving companionship of a person who was to become another soul mate in his life, Colleen Barnes. Cedric had his first encounter with cancer almost 30 years ago. He was still practising as a doctor and he kept it a secret, because he believed that his patients might think he wasn’t such a good doctor if he got sick himself. He was wrong about that, because Cedric was born to be a doctor. He was a healer of great charm and gentleness, who came from a long line of doctors and has also given rise to a long line of doctors. He told me once that he hadn’t budgeted to live as long as he did, almost as if it were an example of bad planning on his part. He said he was living on borrowed time and had really lived on borrowed time for almost 30 years. Cedric never lost his sense of wonder and this probably seemed to him like one of life’s inexplicable miracles. I’m glad God was willing to lend him those 30 years. He lived a wonderful, full life and would have been 88 in October this year. As he was born in his parents’ home, it’s fitting that he died not in a hospital, but at home surrounded by his family. Cedric lived a wonderful life and it’s that life we are here to celebrate today. But, for me, Pietermaritzburg will seem empty without this loving and lovable man, Cedric Akerman.
By Anthony Akerman (nephew)
Dr Meredith Jane Aldrich (MA 1978, PhD (Arts) 1989), a lifelong educator and founder of Children’s Hours School in Geneva, N.Y., and former principal of the Pelham School in western Massachusetts, died peacefully of lung cancer on August 23 at her home in West Tisbury, surrounded, as she wished, by those she loved. She was in hospice care with Island Hospice. The daughter of Merritt James Aldrich, a Boston attorney, and Edith Carolyn (Borrebach) Aldrich, Ms. Aldrich attended Walnut Hill School and Sweet Briar College, graduating at the top of her class at both institutions. She obtained Woodrow Wilson and National Defense Education Act fellowships to study at Harvard University, where she earned a master’s degree in romance languages and literatures. At Harvard she met her future husband, Dunbar Moodie, and eventually settled with him in South Africa. The couple lived in Durban and Johannesburg, where Ms. Aldrich taught at the elementary school, high school and university level. In Durban, she set up her own multi-racial pre-primary school. During this period, she also gave birth to three children and enrolled for a master’s degree in educational psychology. which she obtained in 1978 from the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1976, the family moved to Geneva, N.Y., where Ms. Aldrich’s husband was appointed professor of sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Within a year, she had realized her vision of a school for small children based on the educational principles of Maria Montessori, supplemented and enriched with programs in the fine and performing arts. At one point Children’s Hours School had 120 students and went through fourth grade. The school, which was taken over by a teachers’ cooperative in 1986, continues to thrive.
Meanwhile, Ms. Aldrich had received New York state teacher certification through the department of education at Hobart and William Smith and enrolled for a PhD in developmental psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand. She obtained the degree in 1989. While writing the dissertation, between 1985 and 1989, she resided on the Island. During this period she was active in the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard, where she was action/legislation chairman and a delegate to national and state conventions. She also served on the board of the Chilmark Chamber Players and was a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Chapter of the NAACP. In 1990, she obtained a certificate in advanced study (with principal certification) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
From 1990 to 1994, she was principal of Pelham School in the Amherst-Pelham regional school district. During 1992 and 1993, she served as a Massachusetts fellow in the educational policy fellowship program of the Institute for Education and Leadership, traveling frequently to seminars and workshops in many regions of the United States. On sabbatical in 1995, she was a senior research fellow at the center for the humanities at Wesleyan University. In 1996, Ms. Aldrich retired to Geneva, where she established warm and nurturing relationships with numerous students from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, organizing an open house for tea on weekday afternoons. She audited classes at the colleges, sang in the colleges’ community chorus and was often seen at musical events. In keeping with her dedication to community service, she became involved with the Geneva League of Woman Voters where she was director of voter services. For many years, she was responsible for organizing candidate debates. In 2006, she returned part-time to teaching at the Children’s Hours School where she shared in awakening yet another generation of children to the excitement of learning. Most people who knew her remember Meredith Aldrich as a thoughtful and often quietly witty individual with a tremendous capacity for follow-through. She was a private person while deeply caring about others as well as wider public issues. She had an unpretentious and genuine ability to empathize with others and appreciate them for their emotional and intellectual gifts. Her loving way of being in the world enabled her to reach other persons at their very core, which is perhaps the reason children adored her. At the same time, she held others to her own high standards of commitment. As many generations of young people can testify, she had a way of reaching out to one’s best self, nurturing it and bringing it forth. Whether disciplining an errant child or comforting a grieving soul, there could be no doubt of her loving concern. She lived for others.
Ms. Aldrich is survived by her husband, T. Dunbar Moodie; her sister, Adriane de Savorgnani of London, U.K.; her brother, Merritt James Aldrich of Sequim, Wash.; her daughter, Mary Jane Aldrich-Moodie of Oak Bluffs; her sons, James Aldrich-Moodie of Rochester, N.Y., and Benjamin Moodie of Lewiston, Me.; and her three daughters in love, Christine Seidel, Sarah Jones and Caroline Shaw, respectively.
Wits benefactor and former head of the microbiology department, Emeritus Professor Jennifer Alexander (BSc Hons 1963) died on 11 January 2011, aged 70, of complications following hip surgery. Born 5 December 1940, Alexander studied biochemistry at Wits and completed her Masters and PhD in microbiology in the United States, researching viral oncogenesis (tumour causation). Her career began in 1970 as a research officer at what is now the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. While Head of the Department of Virology and Microbiology at the Medical University of South Africa, Alexander received the George Oettlé Memorial Medal in 1977 – the Cancer Association of South Africa medal that honours its cancer-research pioneer namesake – for a paper published in the South African Medical Journal that presented an international breakthrough in understanding the cause of liver cancer. The same journal published Alexander’s controversial paper hypothesising a link between the AIDS virus and the polio vaccine in 1989, as did British medical journal The Lancet in 1992. Alexander headed the Department of Virological Pathology at the University of Limpopo from 1981 until 1987 and then joined Wits as Head of the Department of Microbiology for a decade from 1988.
Gwyn was a proud Witsie, Old Edwardian and WWII Soldier.
He was a Medical Practitioner with extremely high ethical standards and was an excellent diagnostician. Gwyn was highly intelligent person who enjoyed various sport, interests and hobbies. He was exacting, an achiever and a perfectionist with a heart of gold.
Born in Breyten in the Transvaal to Scots father William Shanks Alexander, the local GP and Muriel, he had one older sister, Jean.
He went to KES from 1934 to 1940, originally a boarder at the Marshalls in Mons Road, moving to Buxton in 1935-37, and thereafter to Davis, where he became Head of House, Prefect & Cadet Officer in 1940.
He was an excellent sportsman and regaled all who knew him with stories about athletics, cricket, life-saving and especially swimming and rugby at which he excelled. He received colours for Rugby, swimming and shooting. He was passionate about sport and later played squash and golf, taking up horse riding in his 40’s and finally playing bowls until pain forced him off the field.
He joined the ILH Kimberley Regiment armoured car division in active service in the Western Desert and fought in the Italian Campaign. After 4 years of fighting, the war ended and he returned to South Africa on a 3 days flying boat trip!
He followed his father and studied Medicine at Wits with John Barlow, and several others of that ilk. He qualified in 1952 and it was while at Wits that he met Valerie Rainier on the 25th June 1948. They married a year later on the 2nd July 1949. He died just short of their 62nd wedding anniversary.
His career started at the age of 30 at Elim Hospital near Louis Trichardt. After this he moved to Durban Roodeport Deep as assistant Mine Medical Officer and thereafter to Merriespruit, Virginia Mine Hospital. In 1960 he moved to Loraine Gold Mine as the Senior Mine Medical Officer and assisted in designing the hospital at Loraine, living on the mine in Allanridge until 1985.
During his time at Loraine he was involved in various committees including Scouts, Swimming, Pony Club and Golf. He was an Associate Founder of The College of Medicine of South Africa and from 1956 to his retirement in 1985 a member of the Mine Medical Officers’Association, being President in 1979.
Amongst several papers which he wrote and presented, was one in the South African Medical Journal in May 1963. This paper “The Care of Accident Victims on the Roads” suggested action to be taken to increase the survival rate of road accident victims by improving amongst other issues, Communication.
Gwyn is survived by his wife Val in Plettenberg Bay; his son, Bruce whose wife Pippa had just lost her battle to cancer on the 19th May; Bruce and Pippa’s children in the UK (Dylan, Dane, Danielle, Dominique and Rachel); and his daughter, Jen.
A well respected teacher and ardent scholar of Homeopathy, Dr Margaret Allen (MB BCh 1942 ) died on 28th April 2012 at her home in George. She was 92.
Born in Johannesburg on 26th November 1919, Margaret matriculated from Parktown Girls High School and gained her medical degree at Wits.
She was a woman of great vision and integrity and touched many lives deeply with great love and selflessness. She was a true healer, humble, yet demonstrating great strength
and conviction in her belief that it was a privilege to be able to use Homeopathy. Blessed with an agile mind, she continued to study and evaluate new treatments until shortly before her passing.
In the early sixties Margaret and two women friends established a social group to provide members with intellectual stimulus. The group became known as the Cornelian Society and enjoys widespread popularity to this day.
She is survived by her four children, ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
(Submitted by son-in-law, Mike Smith, 25 January 2013)
A former Wits University football player and member of the team that produced South Africa’s first petrol from coal, William Henry Atteridge (BSc Mech Eng 1945, BSc Elec Eng 1946) died in Witbank of cancer on 20 August 2010, aged 85.
Born in Pretoria on 22 January 1925, Atteridge attended Pretoria Boys’ High and completed an Eskom apprenticeship after graduating. He then held engineering posts in Somerset East where he met his wife, to whom he was married for 57 years.
At Sasol from 1956, he led the construction of storage tanks and secured coalmines for storage. He oversaw all South African oil and petroleum products in 1966, when the Industrial Development Corporation seconded him to manage its Strategic Fuel Fund. He later established a refinery and mining complex at the Tsumeb/Kombat Mine in Namibia and was instrumental in Eskom supplying electricity to this country. He returned to South Africa in 1971 to erect a water separation plant at Newmont’s O’kiep complex.
He retired as Port Elizabeth’s deputy city electrical engineer in 1990 and moved to Witbank in 2005.
It is with sadness that the death of Professor John Barlow (MBBCh 1951, Master of Surgery 1968, honorary DSc Med 1991) on 10 December 2008 is recorded. John Barlow graduated from Wits in 1951, interrupting his studies to serve in the South African forces during World War II. He served internships at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and proceeded to the Postgraduate Medical School of London, obtaining the MRCP in 1955 and the coveted position of Registrar to Sir John McMichael. It was there that his interest in auscultation and phonocardiology was aroused, an interest he actively pursued throughout his career. He was an acknowledged leader in cardiology and was perhaps best known for his work on the aetiology and significance of late systolic murmurs and mitral non-ejection clicks which he showed to be usually due to billowing of the mitral valve. He also described several associated features, including mild mitral regurgitation, ECG changes and arrhythmias. Now universally known as Barlow's syndrome, his original paper on this topic which appeared in 1968 is the second most cited paper ever published in the British Heart Journal and in 1983 was identified as a Citation Classic by the Institute for Scientific Information. Professor Barlow had an ongoing and major interest in rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease and was actively involved in a major epidemiological study of the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in the school children of Soweto undertaken by Dr Margaret McLaren in the early 1970s. He received an MD from Wits in 1968 for a thesis on late systolic murmurs and non-ejection systolic clicks, and in 1971 he was elected FRCP. In recognition of his many outstanding contributions, Wits appointed him as Professor of Cardiology (Ad Hominem) in 1970. He was Director of the Cardio-vascular Research Unit at Wits from 1971 to 1990. He retired in 1990 but continued to see outpatients, consult and supervise registrars for the next 18 years, right up to a few months before he died. On behalf of the Faculty and ourselves, we extend our deepest sympathy to Professor Barlow's sons, Richard and Clifford, and their families.
Hilary Barker joined Wits on 1 June 1991 as departmental secretary for Political Studies. In 2001 she was appointed as secretary to the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Gerrit Olivier. Hilary was born on 5 August 1947 and died on 15 November 2006 after a long illness. She leaves a son, Bruce, and a daughter, Colleen, and three grandchildren.
Wessel Barney Barnard (BSc Eng, 1948, PGDA, 1980) passed away on 13 May 2008. He was 87 years old. Born in Villiersdorp, Barnard received the first scholarship for apprentice electricians awarded by the Johannesburg City Council. He studied further in England after receiving his undergraduate degree and later, a diploma in township development from Wits. Barnard went on to become City Electrical Engineer of Johannesburg, retiring from the City Council in 1986 after more than 41 years of service. He chaired the Association of Municipal Electrical Undertakings from 1983 to1985 and was the first electrical engineer to serve on the Electrical Control Board, from 1986 to 1994. Barnard travelled the world as part of his service on national and international electricity advisory boards. His other accomplishments include scoring two holes-in-one in golf and qualifying as a bowls umpire in 1990. Barnard is survived by his wife Iona, sons Ian and Craig, and grandchildren Kate and Matthew.
Prof John Barratt, the founding father of the modern study of International Relations in South Africa passed away on 8 August 2007. Barrat became national director of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). Charles John Adkinson Barrat was born in a small village in the Transkei. The son of a senior Anglican clergyman, he was educated at St Andrew's College in Grahamstown, Wits University and then Exeter College, Oxford where he studies modern history. When he returned to South Africa in 1954 he joined the Union of South Africa's Diplomatic Service and four years later was posted to the United Nations in New York. He was appointed director of the SAIIA in 1967 where under his guidance the institute began to flourish with a growing reputation for objectivity, with an educational role and an important research programme. He wrote widely on South Africa's foreign policy, which culminated in 1990 in South Africa's Foreign Policy: The Search for Status and Security 1945-1988, which was co-written with British academic James Barber. In 1981 he was appointed as an honoury professor in International Relations at Wits University.
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A former Wits University half-mile athlete, architect Andrew David Barrow (BArch 1961) died in the UK on 18 December 2010, aged 74.
Born on 27 September 1936, Barrow matriculated from Pretoria Boys’ High before enrolling at Wits. He left South Africa for England after graduating and worked at architectural firms TP Bennett & Partners and John S Bonnington Partnership, Hertfordshire. He was ultimately an associate partner at London firm, RMJM.
He retired to West Sussex and was wheelchair bound in his last years, having never recovered from a cycling accident.
A contributing sub-editor to the WITSReview, Kathleen Bartels (BA Hons 2006) died in Johannesburg on 17 August 2011 after suffering cardiac arrest. She was 40. Born 10 December 1970, the mother of two held a postgraduate degree in publishing studies from Wits. She co-managed Wordsmiths, a specialist writing and sub-editing company, with her father. A freelance sub-editor at The Star since 2004, Bartels was also an accomplished copywriter and editor. She edited, ghost-wrote and proofread various non-fiction publications.
Professor Johlyne Crewe Beenhakker (BSc 1954, PhD 1986) died on 4 September 2011, aged 79. Beenhakker was born on 26 May 1932. She began teaching at Wits in the physiotherapy department in 1967, later becoming acting Head. She was Chair and Vice-Chair of the South African Society of Physiotherapy from 1981 to 1991 and edited the South African Journal of Physiotherapy for seven years. In 1988, Wits established a prize in Beenhakker’s honour awarded to the top-performing fourth-year physiotherapy student who achieves no less than 70%.
Simon Hyman Behr (BSc Eng Geo, 1955) died at his home in Johannesburg on 12 July 2008, aged 75. Behr commenced his studies at Wits in 1952 and was elected cheerleader by popular acclaim in 1954. He graduated from Wits with a BSc Eng (Mining Geology) degree and worked briefly with the Geographical Survey, after which he went into private practice. Behr was a respected consultant involved in exploration work throughout South Africa, Botswana and Namibia until the time of his death. He also held an MSc (Applied Mineral Exploration) degree from McGill University, Montreal.
Arthur David Bensusan died at the age of 85 while in New Zealand. He was a world-renowned authority on the history of photography and the founder of the Bensusan Museum and Library of Photography at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg. After matriculating he became a medical student at Wits University but in 1940 joined the South African Air Force as a photographer. He spent the war years in North Africa and Italy attached to the photographic section of the S F. After the war he returned to medical school, qualified as a doctor and worked as a general practitioner. In 1954 he founded the Photographic Society of Southern Africa. He received a number of awards and became a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and Photographic Society of America. He was invited to join the London Salon, an elite group of photographers that included the great Canadian photographer, Yousuf Karsh. Bensusan headed the photographic division of the Wits medical school and lectured on the use of photography in medicine. In the 1960s he invented the first instantaneous X-ray, which allowed for the immediate diagnosis of people involved in accidents. He made two documentary films. One which followed the fortunes of a man who became a paraplegic after an accident became the first South African documentary to win a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Bensusan was actively involved in politics he was a Johannesburg city councillor for 16 years and mayor in 1973/4.
Eminent marine geophysicist Hugh William Bergh, a researcher at the Wits Bernard Price Institute (BPI) for almost 30 years, died at home in Napier, southern Cape on 26 September 2011, aged 75. He was born in Cape Town on 17 April 1936 and matriculated at Marist Brothers in Johannesburg. He held degrees in physics, maths and chemistry from Unisa and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His appointment to the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory piqued his interest in magnetism and he pursued a doctorate in geophysics at Princeton University on receipt of a Fulbright-Hays travel grant. He returned to South Africa in 1969 to join the BPI, where he remained until retirement in the 1990s.
Bergh’s research transformed our understanding of the origin of the southern oceans. Combining a deep knowledge of earth magnetism with formidable mathematical and computing skills, he was the first plate tectonics enthusiast in Africa to fathom details of the continental drift between Africa, South America and Antarctica. His scientific observations in the 1970s and 1980s were at the cutting edge and were founded on being out at sea to make fundamental measurements during more than 30 research cruises in very rough waters.
In addition to his passion for the sea, he was a keen philatelist, gifted raconteur and voracious bibliophile. His wife, son (a Wits alumnus) and daughter survive him.
Dr Julius Berjak (MBBCh 1933, DPH 1944) the former Acting Head of the Department of Human Anatomy at the Medical School of what was then the University of Natal, died in Durban, South Africa on 15 November 2009, just two days short of his 101st birthday.
The following reflection on Dr Berjak's life was written by the head of UKZN's Clinical Anatomy Department, Professor Hoosen Vawda on Berjak's centenary in 2008:
It was a cold, wintry morning on the 17th November 1908 in the German, city of Leipzig. It had been snowing for a week and the coal-fired heaters were not coping with the severe temperatures generated by the cold Siberian winds which brought one of the severest winters
to Leipzig. In such conditions, a baby of 2.2kg was born to a simple couple, Ernestine and Adolph Berjak. The little baby was named Julius and on the 17th of November 2008, Dr Julius Berjak, the longest surviving member of the former University of Natal celebrated a century, having survived the sinking of the Titanic, two world wars, a cold war and several hot wars. He has also lived to see the establishment of democracy in South Africa, as well as the merger of the former University of Natal and University of Durban-Westville. This is Dr Berjak, the former Acting Head of the Department of Human Anatomy at the former University of Natal's Medical School, a post he held from 1975 until December 1993. He is truly a unique specimen, a genius amongst the lesser mortals of the medical and academic fraternities, as well as the human race, in terms of stamina, health, intelligence and regimental functional orderliness, operating under the highest level of organisation, what has subsequently become to be described as the Berjakian Regime in the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine. This regime is ardently followed by scores of generations of his students, staff and will indeed be propagated well into the future, by his disciples. After the First World War and following the recession in Germany, Baby Julius together with his parents immigrated to South Africa in 1921, where they settled in Boksburg. Julius attended the Boksburg School from 1921 to 1926, where it has been reported there was this little German boy, a foreigner amongst the Afrikaner children, who did not know a word of English. Hard work and under the visionary direction of his mother, Ernestine, Julius flourished at school, to be awarded a bursary to study medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand, Medical School. He enrolled in the study of medicine 1927. In the very first year he excelled with his grades and in the second year of study he was invited by, the Godfather of the University of the Witwatersrand, Professor Raymond Arthur Dart, who discovered the Taung Skull, to take up studies in a BSc, whilst Julius was in the midst of his medical studies. It is on record, in the archives at the University of the Witwatersrand, that Julius was the only student in the history of the great institute to have the audacity of refusing Professor Dart's invitation. Julius's photograph with Professor Dart taken in 1928 still graces the hallowed corridors of the Witwatersrand Medical School now relocated to Parktown. This brave action, actually brought Julius into disfavour with Professor Dart, who looked upon Julius as his protégé, a position which was later to become occupied by the internationally famous paleoanthropologist, Professor Phillip Vallentine Tobias. However, Julius's career was illustrious at the Medical School, having graduated as a summa cum laude student in 1932. He completed his internship and was enlisted into the South African Defence Force at the outbreak of the war in 1939. However, in 1941 he was recalled to the Crown Mines as the Chief Medical Superintendent, a position he held from 1948 to 1969, because it was considered more important to attend to the medical care of the mining personnel of the gold mine, a post which Dr Berjak held for 32 years. The early days were particularly tough for Dr Berjak. His research involved the use of serum in the treatment of infections and just as he was about to submit his thesis, the advent of antibiotics made his work irrelevant to the treatment of infective conditions. This setback with research made him focus on public health issues and clinical medicine. After his retirement from Crown Mines Hospital in 1969, he toured extensively in his aluminium bodied Land Rover, throughout Southern Africa, including the then Rhodesia and Mozambique, with his wife, Celia, affectionately know as Sylvia. In 1972 after her death, Dr Berjak moved to Durban to live with his daughter, Patricia, and son-in-law, Norman. In 1975 he presented himself to the Department of Anatomy, which was under the leadership of Professor James Lord Braithwaite. On the first day he was mistaken for a technician based on his attire of the now famous white laboratory coat. Dr Berjak was typically identified in this white coat until his retirement in 1993. In the department, Dr Berjak used to drive to work, arriving at 6.45am and leaving well after 7pm, Mondays to Fridays. He opened the Dissection Hall on Saturdays for the benefit of the students and over the 18 years he was in the department, he earned the respect of staff andstudents. He was never been off-sick during this entire period, even a single day. While he believed in discipline, admonition, forthrightness, order and regimentation, Dr Berjak has a sense of humour which emerged on numerous occasions. Often notices appeared inside the refrigerator, directed to someone who dared to steal and presumably devour one of his finest apples from the fridge. He was respected by the students and staff and often went out of his way to assist them academically as well as with family matters, spending endless hours guiding people who consulted him. Dr Berjak's contribution to the world's population was a princely sum of two children a daughter, Patricia, who is the former head of the Division of Biology, a Deputy Head of School and a Professor at UKZN, as well as a recipient of the Presidential Order of Mapungubwe Silver; and a son, Michael, a former University of Natal staff member and now specialising in Information Technology. It seems that, the Berjaks were foremost in the queue when the good Lord was dispensing, health, longevity and intelligence. He has four grandchildren, two of whom have completed their master's degrees at UKZN. Dr Berjak still manages to counsel colleagues, friends and family at 100; truly a unique individual and an academic with extremely rare attributes which have spanned two centuries. His interest is medical education and sees the training of the doctor for the 21st century as the biggest challenge presently facing the university and the health care professions. He is further engaged in taking basic sciences to the community and improving accessibility of tertiary education to the underprivileged. In recognition of his commitment, he was the recipient of numerous awards over the years and in 1994, upon his retirement, he was awarded the Vice-Chancellor's medal by Professor Brenda Gourley, as the Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the University. He has a continuous record of clinical, academic, research, managerial expertise since 1932 in the public sector in South Africa, having being awarded a Diploma in Public Health. Today, he still has a sharp mental state and if one is conversing with him telephonically, he sounds as enthusiastic as a young man full of sparkle and energy. I, together with the Discipline of Clinical Anatomy, the staff of the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, the School's Dean, Professor Willem Sturm, the doctors who have trained under him and the staff whom he guided, wish Dr Julius Berjak well and assure him that not only is Dr Julius Berjak remembered daily in his personal capacity and revered, but also the Berjakian Regime is well and sound for the future.
- Hoosen Vawda
A celebrated teacher and scholar of English literature, Jacques Alexandre Berthoud (BA 1956, BA Hons 1958) died in York, England, on 29 October 2011, aged 76. The former Vice-Chancellor and Professor of English Literature at the University of York, Berthoud had recovered from heart bypass surgery but had leukaemia.
Born in Switzerland on 1 March 1935, Berthoud came to Africa aged three when his father, a pastor, came to Lesotho. The French-speaking young Berthoud was home-schooled, learned English at Morija Primary Mission School until 1947 and completed one year at Collège Calvin, Geneva. He won a scholarship to high school at Maritzburg College.
A Wits benefactor, Berthoud graduated from the University and married Astrid Titlestad in 1958. He taught English at the Johannesburg Trade School and at UNISA, and in 1960 lectured at Natal University in Pietermaritzburg. A member of the Liberal Party, Berthoud opposed apartheid and in 1967 left South Africa to lecture at the University of Southampton, where he remained until 1979.
In 1980, he took the chair in English and Related Literature at the University of York. The post combined the study of English with that of other European literatures, ideal for the bilingual Berthoud, who passionately championed the discipline. He retired in 2002 as Professor Emeritus.
Berthoud’s research interests lay in early modern fiction and the English Renaissance. His writing included his monograph Joseph Conrad: the Major Phase (Cambridge, 1978), translated into French in 2002. He developed an interest in South African writing and co-authored a study on South African poet and playwright Uys Krige.
He was a member of Amnesty International and chairman of the British section from 1979 to 1981. He loved art as much as literature and was influential in forming the York History of Art Department. He was a stalwart of the York Bibliographic Society and involved with the Laurence Sterne Trust.
His wife, two daughters, one son and four grandchildren survive him.
Wits benefactor and alumnus, Dr Hayman Solomon Berkowitz (MBBCh 1945) died 20 July in Australia, aged 87. He is survived by his wife.
Bryan Berry (BSc Eng (Metall&Material) 1943) died on 7 October 2010, aged 89, from serious injuries he sustained when hit by a vehicle on 2 October.
Architect, artist and philanthropist Kenneth Stanley Birch (BArch 1937) died in Melrose on 31 July 2010 at the age of 96.
Birch was born in Johannesburg on 18 May 1914. He matriculated from Jeppe High School for Boys. After graduating Wits University, he served for five years in World War II, after which he joined Anglo American.
Throughout his architectural career, Birch worked almost exclusively in the Southern African mining industry and in South African gold mining towns in particular. Notably, he designed the mining town of Carletonville.
Birch was a benefactor of his high school and alma mater, among others. The Birch Block at Jeppe Boys’ High commemorates its namesake, whose motto was “the boy is the father of the man”. Birch supported Wits University’s Barnato Hall Residence and the Faculty of Engineering; he donated a piano for the School of Music and had an Endowed Chair and Professorship of Family Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He also supported the University of South Africa (Unisa). The KS Birch Collections, preserved in the Unisa Library Archives, consist of Birch’s 84 sketchbooks of Africana interest, folios and personal photograph albums.
Birch was the uncle of renowned African writer Bessie Head, whose mother was Birch’s sister. In his booklet, The Birch Family: An Introduction to the White Antecedents of the Late Bessie Amelia Head, Birch wrote that he was duty-bound to compile the official family record in order that “the truth be told about the particular Birch family from which Bessie emanated” and to “counteract the many legends that have proliferated around the white antecedents and relations of Bessie Head”.
Birch never married, having lost his one true love in a car accident shortly after the war.
Phyllis Ray Block (née Lonstein) (BMus 1945), an accomplished musician and a music teacher for more than 50 years, died on 6 March 2011, aged 86. Born in Krugersdorp on 26 April 1925, Block joined the Krugersdorp and West Rand Symphony Society Orchestra in 1938, aged 13. The Wes-Randse Kunsvereeniging (West Rand arts association) awarded her a gold diploma for a violin solo (under 20 years old) and she later became a first violinist. Block devoted her life to music. She founded the Krugersdorp Youth Orchestra and the Krugersdorp Municipality (Mogale City) awarded her two service medals. In addition to a degree in music from Wits, she held teaching diplomas from the Trinity College of Music, London for both the piano and violin. She previously led the Johannesburg Jewish Guild Orchestra.
Dr Bernard Bloch (MBBCh 1945) passed away on 1 January 2012. After leaving South Africa, he went to England where he became an orthopaedic surgeon and after travelled to Sydney, Australia where, for many years, he was a leading surgeon at Sydney Hospital and opened two private clinics. During his career, he wrote a number of books and conducted research. He also travelled to New Guinea and Indonesia on behalf of the Australian government and set up clinics there. He was also Chairman of the International Standards Organization for a number of years. In 1989, he moved to Israel and lived there until his death. (Submitted by alumnus’s daughter, Margot Dudkevitch)
A stalwart of Sandton and its emergency rescue services for 30 years, Dr John Boden (MBBCh 1965) died in Sandton Mediclinic on 29 February 2012. He was 72. Born on 21 September 1940, Boden matriculated from St John’s College. At Wits Medical School, he was one of the students enlisted to help the wounded after the 1963 John Harris anti-apartheid bombing at Johannesburg Park Station. After graduating, Boden became head of Casualty at Johannesburg General Hospital. He began practising privately in Cramerview and later Bryanston shopping centres from 1969. He moved his practice to the new Sandton Clinic in 1975, where he participated in the first surgery performed there. Boden lobbied for greater co-operation between Sandton medical personnel and emergency medical services, and pioneered the training of paramedics. He served in violence-stricken Johannesburg townships during the tumultuous 1980s, and designed and implemented a pioneering mobile clinic. Arguably Boden’s greatest contribution was his role in developing and training the Sandton Emergency Services Volunteer Services, a corps that grew into the largest in Africa and in which Boden served as Chief Medical Officer. Boden was named the Sandton Citizen of the Year in 1987 in recognition of his contribution to ambulance, paramedic and emergency services. He retired from general practice in 1998 but continued to serve as ad hoc Medical Officer for ER24 until his passing. His brothers, Roger (BArch 1966, DipTRP 1973, MUD 1979) and Robert, and three sons - one of whom is a Wits alumnus - survive him.
Dr Michael Braudo (MBBCh, 1950) passed away on 7 April 2008 at the age of 79 after a long illness. Born and raised in Johannesburg and, briefly, in Palestine, Braudo matriculated from King Edward VII High School for Boys and then graduated from Wits with a medical degree and the David Lurie Prize in surgery, having scored top marks in internal medicine and overall in the final Wits Medical School exams. After working at the Johannesburg General Hospital, the Fever Hospital and the Transv l Memorial Hospital for Children, Braudo went to Scotland in 1953 to pursue postgraduate studies. He trained for five years at the Sick Children's Hospital in Scotland, after which he moved to the USA to take up the post of Chief Resident in Medicine at the Children's Medical Centre in Boston. He also taught at Harvard Medical School during this time. Braudo subsequently moved to Toronto, beginning a long association with the Hospital for Sick Children. The University of Toronto endowed him Emeritus Associate Professor of Paediatrics. He was also an Honorary Chief Paediatrician at Wellesley Hospital. Braudo then practised privately, specialising in paediatrics and clinical paediatric cardiology in 1960 and continuing in this field for some 40 years.
An art connoisseur, Braudo acquired an extensive collection of modern paintings comprising South African, American and Canadian works and one of the largest collections of indigenous Canadian art. He travelled extensively, visiting remote places such as Antarctica, eastern Turkey, Ethiopia and Libya, and frequently visited his native South Africa. Acutely aware of the importance of his initial training and education at Wits, Braudo was a generous benefactor to the Faculty of Medicine. His legacy both at Wits and in Toronto is entrenched and he inspired many in their careers as doctors, healers and caregivers. Braudo never married but left a multinational network of colleagues, friends and family members who remember him with great fondness as a remarkable individual.
A founder member of the International Coloured Gemstone Association, a consultant to Tiffany's in New York and a member of the Gemological Institute of America, Dr Campbell Rodney Bridges (BSc 1964) was killed on 11 August 2009, aged 71. Born in London on 25 August 1937, Bridges's interest in gemstones was inherited from his father, who was chief geologist for the Central Mining and Investment Corporation in South Africa. Campbell studied geology and worked in Tanganyika's gemstone mines after graduating. Here his talent for surveying terrain emerged. He discovered tsavorite in northern Tanzania in 1967, apparently after diving into a gully to avoid a buffalo charge. Despite the nationalisation of the mines in 1969, which usurped Bridges claim to the land bearing his gems, he traced further tsavorite deposits in the early 1970's. This discovery resulted in Tiffany & Co in America using his face to advertise the as yet unnamed tantalising jewel. Tiffany named the gem tsavorite after Kenya's Tsavo National Park, where Bridges had found this truest green gemstone. Bridges prospected for deposits deep in the Tanzanian bush, often living in tree-houses 30ft off the ground in order to escape passing wildlife. In the early days he warded off thieves by draping a python over his stones. Discoveries of deeper deposits enabled commercialisation and he set up a mining base near Nairobi. Recently illegal miners set up digs on Bridges land and issued death threats, warning the family to leave. Bridges was stabbed in the chest during a skirmish with encroachers on his land. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
The former chairman of the Wits Business School Alumni Association (WBS ), Steven Kenneth Bunce (MBA 1986) died on 2 November 2009, aged 55. Bunce was born on 31 October 1954 and worked at Dorbyl Ltd as an industrial relations legal adviser. As chairman of the WBS , Bunce was intent on making the Association relevant to South Africa and the business sector. Steve and Prof. Ncube [former WBS Director] used to spend time together, plotting how they could make the Association more of a feature in the Business School, wrote fellow alumna and committee member, Mary-Ann Clarke (MBA 1986) in a tribute. Bunce was a deep-voiced man overflowing with bonhomie. He was a sporting and Ferrari Club racing enthusiast, devoted to his wife, and exceptionally proud of the accomplishments of his four children. Bunce's legacy endures through the Association's membership, many of whom he recruited.