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In Memoriam 2023

Alfred William Stadler (1937-2023)

Former professor and chair of the Department of Political Studies at Wits, Alfred William Stadler, "Alf" (BA 1960, BA Hons 1962, PhD 1971), died on 29 December 2023 at the age of 86. Alf was a public intellectual, providing analysis and commentary on election results and political events; he acted as an expert witness for the defence of his students who were charged with “terrorism” by the apartheid regime; and, for a time, he chaired the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism.

Alf was born in Durban in 1937, the son of a former dairy farmer, who worked for the South African railways and who died when Alf was 10. The family relocated to Johannesburg; Alf recalled the train ride to the Reef as deeply depressing: the cold, dry and treeless khaki veld of the Rand were a stark contrast to the sub-tropical forests and rolling cane fields of Natal. In Johannesburg, Stadler’s mother washed and ironed clothes in exchange for backyard accommodation.

As a student at Highlands North Boys High, Alf's academic performance was mediocre. His principal suggested that he take up a less intellectually demanding trade of some kind. But he had long nurtured a keen interest in English literature. As a youngster he checked out books such as James Joyce’s Ulysses from the local library, much to the librarian’s chagrin. When he left school he studied metallurgy, but he dropped out after a short stint at a steel foundry where dodging projectile lumps of iron ore were not infrequent hazards. He then enrolled in a BA and studied English and Politics. Politically conscientised, he joined the Communist Party, joking wryly about his failed attempts to mobilise residents of Alexandra Township and avoid arrest.

At the time, the Political Studies Department was managed by Godfrey “Copper” LeMay, and Alf was one of a few PhD students. LeMay held supervisory sessions at the Wits cricket nets to practice Alf’s batting, and hosted “seminars” at the Devonshire Hotel bar in Braamfontein. Following LeMay’s retirement in 1966, Alf was appointed acting head of the department but was only granted full professorship and the chair in 1981. By the early 1980s, he had transformed the department.

During his tenure, Alf purposefully appointed young intellectuals with wide ranging interests and potential. Committed to mentoring early career academics, he granted junior staff time off from lecturing so they could pursue their research and publish. When he joined the department in the early 1980s, Prof Tom Lodge described the atmosphere as a “considerate and hospitable setting for an apprentice lecturer”.

In his inaugural lecture at Wits, Alf stated: “I want to raise questions about how people without power, wealth or even votes act politically, and try to estimate the effects they produce on political structures”. His research and writing focused on historical uprisings and mini revolts in South Africa, such as the bus boycotts and squatter movements on the Reef. “Birds in the cornfield: Squatter Movements in Johannesburg, 1944-1947" is still listed as essential reading on the Abahlali baseMjondolo, the socialist shack dwellers movement of South Africa’s, website. His book, the Political Economy of Modern South Africa (Routledge 1987 and 2022) was favourably reviewed and is still frequently cited. Much to Alf's delight the book was recently republished. The reconfiguration of what defined political studies at Wits led to the introduction of new curricula, notably an honours level course taught by Alf and Prof Lodge called “Direct Action and Popular Protest” that explored the political agency of people who lacked resources.

In recognition of his talent for leadership, Alf was also appointed caretaker head of the Department of Music; he proudly showed off his new office that was outfitted with a baby grand piano and a music system.

At home, his family remember that he was constantly busy: an accomplished carpenter he built bookshelves, constructed dry walling, and fitted out the family kitchen all from scratch; he was a great cook — no meal was complete without recitations from Robert Carrier, Elizabeth David and Larousse Gastronomique, inspiring future feasts; he loved opera, was an avid reader, and refused to own a television set.

He leaves his wife, Jenny, his daughters Josie and Cathy, his son Jonathan (BA 1989, BA Hons 1990, MA 1995), his sister Francis, and his seven grandchildren.

Source: Jonathan Stadler

Mark Finkelstein (1966-2023)

Mark Finkelstein (BCom 1987, LLB 1989) a lawyer, admired for his teaching of martial arts and voluntary efforts, died of cancer on 27 December 2023 in Johannesburg. His death came a few weeks before what would have been his 58th birthday. He was first diagnosed with cancer four years ago, and despite pain, continued to work and maintained his good humour.Mark Finkelstein

Finkelstein was born and grew up in Johannesburg. He matriculated at Highlands North Boys High School, and then went on to study at Wits. As estate agents, his parents often found new homes and moved with Finkelstein, his older brother Oscar and sisters, Lani and Aviva.

Finkelstein said he was a lawyer by profession, but his passion was teaching Krav Maga, Hebrew for close combat, an Israeli developed self-defence system. For more than 20 years he volunteered for the Community Security Organisation, which protects Jewish institutions and events.

One of the greatest influences on Finkelstein’s life was the late Mickey Davidow, a Judo sensei. Finkelstein represented Transvaal and won several national titles in Judo. In a tribute to Davidow, who passed away two years ago, Finkelstein wrote that in his own martial arts instruction, he followed his sensei’s “kind and calm encouragement of students, while being specific in any criticism.”

His teaching went beyond martial arts and he lectured on how “The Art of War” written by Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese general, could be used as a tool for fighting addiction, in thinking about business, and daily life. He had begun to write a book on “The Art of War” and fighting addiction. Finkelstein also spoke to groups about his fight against cancer.

Finkelstein had a hectic schedule, but found time to give of himself. He regularly visited the elderly parents of friends who had emigrated. He paid attention to his children in teaching them, exercising with them, and taking up their interests. He frequently took the family for hikes in nature reserves, and on holiday at his favourite places in Mozambique.

He leaves his wife Cheryl and five children.

Sources: Finkelstein family and SA Jewish Report

Conrad Mueller (1949-2023)

Professor Conrad Steven Mueller (BSc 1975, BSc Hons 1976, PhD 1989) a pioneer of computer science at Wits and in South Africa died on 23 November 2023. He was born in Johannesburg in 1949 and matriculated at King Edward VII High School.Prof Conrad Mueller

After completing his honours degree, he spent a short time in industry, and completing his master’s degree at Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg), he returned to Wits in 1981 in response to a call to help a new division as it was emerging into an independent Department of Computer Science. He spent the next 33 years at Wits, rising through the ranks to associate professor. He served as Chair of the Governing Committee and then Head of School for about 10 years.

Prof Mueller quickly proved himself to be an extremely dedicated teacher in a tough environment. Wits, as an established research university, considered Computer Science to be an upstart new discipline, particularly as few members of staff had PhDs in the early days.

Prof Mueller’s great strength was the time and interest that he put into the people around him. As a teacher he is fondly remembered for the one-on-one work that he did with students. In the 1980s and 1990s it was common to find a queue of students outside his office getting help. He would spend hours with students helping them debug terrible code, and more importantly teaching them and fostering independent thinking.

Prof Mueller mentored young members of staff, advising them on teaching strategies and how to deal with various teaching and administrative problems. He could always be relied on to read drafts of research papers critically and constructively and was happy to listen to research problems and talk through possible solutions even for projects outside of his area of expertise. He was always prepared to take on administrative tasks, large and small, and sheltered the younger members of staff from that work. This nurturing mentorship launched several academics into their own successful careers.

He had to be tough to protect and help build computer science as a discipline. Yet in the end, the new department met with some great successes, particularly students who went on to become industry leaders.

He was an old-fashioned scholar – he read widely and deeply and had an open sense of enquiry. He taught a wide range of computer science courses from first year to honours. He made important contributions to computer science education research. His research passion was computer architecture – he recognised early the limitations of the von Neumann architecture and proposed alternative models and programming styles. He completed his PhD in the late 1980s under Judith Bishop – Towards removing sequential ordering in programs and continued work on this theme for the rest of his life.

As a son of German and Swiss immigrants who had seen the rise of fascism in Europe, Prof Mueller was brought up to oppose apartheid. He was a member of Mervyn Shear’s “Peacekeepers”, a group of academics who in the 1980s would put themselves between the police and students to restrain police violence, and active in the anti-apartheid Union of Democratic University Staff Associations.

After he reached mandatory retirement age, he taught at Tshwane University of Technology and continued to supervise postgraduate students at the University of South Africa. He was also elected to the Wits Executive Committee of Convocation and was one of the Convocation members of the University Council. He gave great service to the University and could be relied upon to take on unglamorous jobs. He showed commitment and personal courage during the Fees Must Fall protests.

Prof Mueller was a great personality and someone who was a good friend as well as a colleague. He was also a pioneer of good coffee. The departmental wine club, Turing Tipplers, held his sense of taste and smell in high regard. He often entertained colleagues at home and would show immense kindness to new members of staff, putting them up and even schlepping them around town. In cases of personal crises, he was always willing to help. His unusual turns of phrase – Conradisms as his staff irreverently called them – can’t be repeated (though they never fell on flat ears). You had to be there to appreciate them.

His sense of what was right meant that he sometimes would not compromise. He could not resist the temptation to argue or disagree with positions that he thought were wrong. As a result, he could drive his colleagues to distraction and was the bane of generations of Deans and Vice-Chancellors. But his sincerity and passion left Wits a better place.

He is survived by his partner Judy Backhouse (PhD 2009) and sisters Ann-Christine Andersen (BA 1967) and Dr Jane Mueller (MBBCh 1969).

Sources: Adapted from The South African Computer Journal by former colleagues Scott Hazelhurst (BSc 1985, BSc Hons 1986, MSc 1988) Bob Baber, Yinong Chen, Philip Machanick (BSc Hons 1981, MSc 1988) and Sarah Rauchas

John Steele Chalsty (1933-2023)

John Steele Chalsty (BSc 1953, BSc Hons 1954, MSc 1955, DCom honoris causa 2005) business leader, former chairman and chief executive officer of Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette Inc and founder of the Wits Fund in the US, passed away peacefully at the age of 90 in his home on 12 November 2023.

Chalsty was born in 1933 and began his academic journey at Wits, completing honours and master’s degree in chemistry and physics. He is remembered for his sporting prowess as a member of the Wits Rugby First XV. In 1954 the team beat Pretoria University 12-0. After receiving the Stanvac Scholarship in 1955, he travelled to the US to study at Harvard University.Wits First XV 1954: (L-R) Back row: D Wilkinson, F Lucas, E Abdinor, J Chalsty, I Cumming and M Lowenthal; Middle row: H Lyell, L Kaminer, J Meintjies, E Zar, J Kaminer and T Espach; Front row: B Rosenberg, T Lombard, F Herbst (captain), C Ulyate and B Powell. Pic Jonty Winch's Wits Sport

In a 2007 interview he said: “I had turned in work at Wits on a PhD in chemistry and thought I could pick it up at Harvard," he recalls. It wasn't so easy, however. "I heard I would have to start all over again. Another four years of chemistry was appalling. I looked around for something to do and discovered the business school. I found I had somehow stumbled into the right career."

In 1957, he earned his MBA from Harvard Business School, graduating with high distinction as a Baker Scholar. He worked at Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) for around 12 years in various roles in the US and Europe. In 1969 he joined Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ) as an oil analyst, rising through the ranks to become president and chief executive in 1986 and chairman in 1996. Under his leadership, DLJ transformed into one of America's most successful investment banks. He was widely known for a collegial style that earned the respect and admiration of his employees and peers.

Chalsty also served in leadership roles with other prominent institutions, including vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, president of the New York Society of Security Analysts, and board member of Occidental Petroleum, Metromedia International Group, Inc, and Sappi Global.John S Chalsty

In 1992, he met Nelson Mandela, two years after his release from prison. “He had come to the United States trying to enlist people to go to South Africa and watch the polls,” Chalsty said. Mandela was worried about fraud and wanted to ensure the election was administered fairly. “I met him at a luncheon in New York City.” The encounter was brief and mostly at a distance, but it revealed Mandela’s practical side, Chalsty said. “The remarkable thing about this man was that he was undoubtedly one of the most saintly figures I’ve ever seen, but at the same time he was an extremely able politician.”

In 1995 he was chairman of the New York Host Committee for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

A dedicated philanthropist, Chalsty held prominent positions in organisations such as Lincoln Center Theater, American Ballet Theater, New York Philharmonic, Overcoming Obstacles, Teagle Foundation, New York City's Economic Development Corporation, Harvard Business School, Columbia University, and Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

When he stepped down as CEO of DLJ his colleagues commemorated his nearly thirty years of distinguished service to the firm by establishing the John S and Jennifer A Chalsty Fellowship at the Harvard Business School. The fellowship is used to support black South African MBA students.

He did not forget his beginnings and remained a supporter of South Africa. He helped to establish the University of the Witwatersrand Inc. (the Wits Fund) in the United States, an entity that continues to be of vital importance to the University. The Chalsty name is proudly emblazoned on one of the outstanding meeting spaces on West Campus, associated with the Mandela Institute and the School of Law, because of his pivotal and founding donation to the Institute.

Chalsty’s many achievements and generosity were widely recognised, including with honorary doctorates from Wits in 2005 and the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015. He received the Ellis Island Foundation's Medal of Honor. He was also honoured by the Citizens Committee for New York City and by the President's Medal for Excellence awarded by Boston College to individuals who have distinguished themselves through personal of professional achievements which exemplify the ideal proclaimed in the University's motto, “Ever to Excel”.

He had “an imposing physical presence”, was described as “incredibly generous, humble and unpretentious,” with a “dry wit”.

He is survived by his wife Jill Siegal Chalsty; his daughters Susan Neely and her husband John Neely, and Deborah Chalsty; his grandchildren John Harrison Neely and his wife Jacqueline Neely, Meghan Bowman and her husband Stephen Bowman, and Timothy Neely; and his great-grandchildren Henry and Penelope.

Sources: Wits archives, The Post and Courier and Dignity Memorial

Thomas Lodge (1951-2023)

Respected former Wits academic and lecturer, Professor Tom Lodge, died at the age of 72 on 8 November 2023. He was a dominant figure in charting South Africa’s modern political history, in particular the history of its anti-apartheid liberation movements. At the time of his death he was Professor Emeritus in Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Limerick in Ireland.

Born in Manchester, Professor Lodge was the son of Roy and Vera Lodge (née Kotasova). He was schooled in Nigeria, North Borneo (later part of Malaysia) and England, travels dictated by his father’s British Council work, which, according to his brother, Robin, provided an early impetus for his later interest in developing countries heading towards independence. He joined University of York as an undergraduate student in 1971, obtaining his PhD at York in 1985.

He first came to South Africa in 1976 as a research fellow of York’s newly opened Centre for Southern African Studies, visiting Soweto in the company of a local Anglican priest. He returned home two days later, he would recall, “to read that Soweto was in flames”. Two years later he was employed as an assistant lecturer in the Wits Politics Department.

Professor Lodge closely studied South Africa’s anti-apartheid movements in opposition and then, after 1994, in power. He also followed political developments in post-apartheid South Africa, analysing, among many other things, corruption and election results. His work on the ANC, PAC and other liberation movements, based on rich fieldwork, established him as a key political and social historian. He was a member of the Wits Politics Department for 25 years and published key texts on South African black opposition politics, South African post-apartheid politics, the figure of Nelson Mandela and, most recently, the South African Communist Party. 

In 2005, he left South Africa and took up the position of professor of peace and conflict studies at the University of Limerick, before becoming dean of arts there in 2012. He retired to Saint Seurin de Prats, near Bordeaux in France, in 2021, but continued to travel to South Africa, where he served on several trusts and commissions. At the time of his death, he was close to finishing a work on Walter Sisulu. 

In a tribute, colleague Professor Daryl Glaser, described Prof Lodge as “kind, humble, understated and good humoured.” His lecturing style was “unusual” with “little eye contact but lots of fascinating detail delivered in a mellifluous voice.” In the 1980s students flocked to his lectures and he rarely locked his office door. In response to the suggestion that students might help themselves to his impressive book collection, he replied ‘I wish’.

He is survived by his wife Carla and their two sons, Kim (BAS 2002, BArch 2005) and Guy (BA 2004, BA 2005).

Sources: The Guardian, Prof Daryl Glaser (BA 1982, BA Hons 1983, MA 1989), Wits archives

Gladwyn Leiman (1944-2023)

Former director of cytopathology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, Professor Gladwyn Leiman (MBBCh 1967) passed away in Vermont, United States, on 1 October 2023.

Professor Leiman’s distinguished career began at Wits and after her surgical and medical internships at the Johannesburg General and Baragwanath hospitals, she was appointed medical officer and subsequently an associate professor in the Cytology Unit of the Department of Anatomical Pathology in the School of Pathology of the South African Institute for Medical Research in 1971. Professor Leiman gained international acclaim for, inter alia, her “Project Screen Soweto” programme, which led to a significant reduction in cervical cancers by monitoring cancer precursors and establishing family planning protocols in Soweto.Professor Gladwyn Leiman

In 1999, the refurbished laboratory at the South African Institute for Medical Research was renamed the Gladwyn Leiman Cytopathology Centre. She was a sought-after speaker among the international obstetrics and pathology communities, travelling and lecturing extensively in the US, Canada, Australia, England, India and the Middle East.  She was recruited as the director of cytopathology and as a professor of pathology at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. Here, her fine needle aspiration skills brought her recognition as an excellent diagnostician, teacher and clinical researcher.  

At the International Congress of Cytology in Paris, Professor Leiman received the 2012 Maurice Goldblatt Award: “For her lifelong love and dedication to clinical cytology; for her very special relationship to underserved areas of the world and her willingness to bring knowledge and expertise to people deserving improved medical care; for her academic rigour and achievements in publishing and teaching.” She was awarded honorary membership of the Indian Academy of Cytologists and the South African Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In 1996 she was named as a Light Source Personality of Cytopathology by the International Academy of Cytology.

On retirement she said: “My future plans are to resurrect my right brain, and re-enter the worlds of literature, music and history, which were my major interests before I deviated to medical school. In particular, I want to reengage in Holocaust studies and genealogy, which have been constant unofficial pursuits throughout my life.”

Professor Leiman’s family said she “rarely spoke about her accomplishments” and “was at once highly gregarious and intensely private”. Fellow alumni described her as an exceptionally kind, caring and compassionate person and a loyal friend. She “provided the glue” that held her Wits Medical Class of 1967 together for more than 50 years.

She is survived by her two brothers Russell and Darryll and their families.

Sources: Cancer Cytopathology and Dr Helen Feiner, née Katzew (MBBCh 1967)

Claude Hakim (1942-2023)

Dr Claude Hakim (MBBCh 1956) was a distinguished member of a remarkable class. After his internships he spent seven years in London with appointments at Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.

Dr Hakim emigrated to Australia, arriving in Sydney in 1979, where he went into private practice in obstetrics and gynaecology. He was French speaking and fluent in five other languages, which he used daily in his practice.

He enjoyed travelling with his wife Roslyn and they visited France almost yearly. He was a gourmet and enjoyed fine wines, which he collected. He was truly a “bon vivant”.

He attended Athlone Boy’s High, where he was an outstanding rugby player and eventually school captain. An abiding vision, when Roosevelt High played Athlone, was Hakim running 25 yards to score under the posts, with four of the opposing team hanging onto him.

Dr Hakim was a skilled surgeon and his patients “thought the world of him”. He will be remembered as a loyal friend, who “was a kind and thoughtful person”.

He is survived by his wife Ros and sons Jean-Marc and Daniel.

Source: Dr Roger Pillemer (MBBCh 1965)

Werner Kirchhoff (1931-2023)

A land surveyor of distinction and a pioneer of South African satellite geodesy, Werner Kirchhoff (BSc Eng 1957) died at the age of 92 in August 2023.

Werner, born in Germany in 1931, was the son of Peter Kirchhoff and Margarete Bose. Two years later his family left Germany for South Africa, settling in Johannesburg in 1934. During Werner’s time at Pretoria Boys’ High School, he became fascinated with the way the land surveyors at the school measured angle and distance. This led him to study surveying at Wits.

Werner was influenced by his father in developing a special interest in astronomy. His early post-graduate surveys established whole degree lines of longitude and latitude in the Zambian (then the Northern Rhodesian) bush from basic astronomical field observations by precision navigation from stars. The USA’s Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory originated the project and Werner became associated with this institution in 1958 as an honorary observer for the International Geophysical Year.

In 1959 he was asked to join the observatory staff and to be involved with satellite tracking and later managing the Smithsonian Institution’s precision satellite photographic observation station at Olifantsfontein. He was awarded a medal for his observations.

He married Anna-Maria in 1961 and the couple had four children: Peter, Elizabeth, Teresa and Christopher (BSc Eng 1987).

Returning to South Africa in 1970, Werner established his own land surveying practice. He saw the application and benefits in the construction industry of laser instruments to achieve greater speed and accuracy in surveying.

When the family returned from the US he served for several years as chairman of the Parktown Association. In 1997, following his retirement, he took up new interests in heritage and collecting Africana. In 2014 Werner re-discovered the beacon (dating from 1919) on Oxford Road, about 100 metres south of Glenhove Road.

His last few months were spent at an old age home where he peacefully passed away in his sleep.

Sources: Kathy Munro (BA 1967), The Heritage Portal

Doreen Mantle (1926-2023)

Doreen Mantle (BA 1948) died aged 97 in her London home on 9 August 2023. She was best known for her role as Jean Warboys, the annoying friend of Victor Meldrew’s wife, Margaret, in the BBC series “One Foot in the Grave” (1990-2000).Doreen Mantle

She was born in Johannesburg on 22 June 1926 to English parents, Hilda (née Greenberg) and Bernard Mantle, who ran a hotel. The family moved to England, returning to South Africa in 1930, shortly after the birth of her brother, Alan (BSc Eng 1953).

Mantle was schooled at Barnato Park for Girls and obtained a BA Social Science degree at Wits in 1948. Her stage career started while performing with the University Players, the Johannesburg Repertory Society, the Munro-Inglis Company and the National Theatre. She was also active in radio in the early 1950s in shows devised by Ian Messiter, who later in the UK, would create BBC Radio 4’s “Just A Minute.

Shortly after graduating, Mantle worked as a social worker in the townships around Johannesburg, witnessing first-hand the social injustice of apartheid. She followed this with work for Legal Aid South Africa. Here she was able to provide support for activists during the growing resistance to the government. In later years she would reflect on these experiences in her one-woman show “My Truth and Reconciliation”.

Mantle met Joshua Graham-Smith, a computer engineer, at the theatre and they married in 1952. Aware that she was being investigated by the authorities for her activism and not wanting to bring up children under apartheid, the couple emigrated to the United Kingdom. “I wanted to see new places, to get away from parochial views and to change the world,” Mantle said.

In the United Kingdom she established herself as a prominent actress in stage, television and film. She carved a niche in the hearts of the British as the catalyst for surreal plot twists. The series writer of “One Foot in the Grave”, David Renwick, recalled: “No one else could have played Mrs Warboys as she did and the honesty that she brought to every line, however bizarre, was what made the character so funny and legitimised even the maddest of moments. There was never the remotest suggestion that she was playing comedy: in her hands it was all utterly real.”

Her fame led to appearances in shows such as a “Weakest Link” sitcom special in 2002. Asked by the host, Anne Robinson, for her most memorable moment, she replied, deadpan, as in the mode of her character: “I was rolled down a hill and mounted by a dog.” The studio audience roared with laughter.

She toured Britain and performed at the National Theatre in The Voysey Inheritance. In 1979 she was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a supporting role for her performance in “Death of a Salesman”.

A highly intelligent woman of strong opinions, she worked closely with Richard Attenborough at the Actors’ Charitable Trust and latterly campaigned for visually impaired elderly people, of which she was one.

She is survived by her sons Quentin and Nicholas and her brother Alan.

Sources: Wits archives, The Guardian, Alan Mantle

Jani Allan (1951-2023) 

Isobel Janet Allan (BA FA 1975, PDipEd 1977) better known as Jani Allan, the former columnist, died at the age of 70 on 25 July 2023 at the Chandler Hall Health Services Hospice in Pennsylvania, United States. Voted the “Most Admired Person in South Africa” in 1987, she was a glamorous trendsetter, concert pianist, model, teacher and waitress. Her career nosedived after a 1991 British documentary The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife by Nick Broomfield alleged she had been sexually involved with right-wing leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging Eugene Terre’Blanche.Jani Allan

Allan was born in 1951 and adopted as a one-month-old by John Murray Allan and his wife Janet Sophia Allan (née Henning). John was Scottish and came to South Africa for the climate. He was chief sub-editor at The Star newspaper in Johannesburg. He died eight months after the adoption.

In her memoir Jani Confidential (Jacana, 2015) Jani described her childhood as “a parade of gymkhanas and piano recitals”. She wrote: “My mother was an antique dealer. She had horreur de vacui – horror of empty spaces. Persian carpets were layered upon each other at our Bryanston home.”

At the age of 10, she made her debut with the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra.  A year later, she won the Trinity Cup of South Africa, tying with Greta Beigel, a 21-year-old pianist. Professor Jacob Epstein and Professor Adolph Hallis, celebrated concert pianists, were among her mentors. 

She initially applied to do a music degree, but enrolled for a degree in fine arts instead at Wits. She said she yearned “to be a hippie and wear tie-dyed clothing and hand-tooled leather sandals”.  She prolonged her time at Wits by enrolling for a post-graduate high school teaching diploma. She told WITSReview her favourite lecturer was Robert Hodgins: “Robert used to tell us that painting was ‘a bit like surfing’ in that a good deal of the time is spent bobbing about, waiting for the right wave to come along. He explained that there are paintings that stem from memory and from a sombre look at the human condition. There are paintings about the construction and confusion of contemporary urban life, but there are also paintings about the pleasures about being alive, pleasures that crowd in upon the pessimism everywhere and refused to be ignored … A painting of my life at Wits would be such a painting.”

She met her first husband, Gordon Schachat (1982-1984), on campus. Apparently when he saw her walking down the steps at the Great Hall, he decided then and there to marry her. The marriage lasted two years. She also married Dr Peter Kulish (2002-2005). Her partners included Stanley B Katz (BCom 1972) and Mario Oriani-Ambrosini. 

Her first job was teaching history of art at Greenoaks School. Later she taught art and English at Bryanston High School. She started writing classical music reviews for The Citizen newspaper and moved to the Sunday Times. The editor, Tertius Myburgh, hired her on the strength of her music reviews.  Within a week, Leslie Sellers designed the logo for her debut column, “Just Jani”. He dropped T from Janet as it would not fit. Her first column appeared in March 1980. Weeks later, she was in Corfu to interview Roger Moore on the set of the latest James Bond series, For Your Eyes Only. In her decade-long tenure at the newspaper, she became the country’s most famous and influential writer and columnist. Her column later became “Jani Allan’s Week”, detailing her busy social diary. In later years it morphed into a straight interview profile column, “Face to Face”.

Of her hometown, Johannesburg, she wrote: “Johannesburg has never been a place for the fastidious or the over-sensitive. It is hideous and detestable, luxury without order, sensual enjoyment without refinement, display without dignity”. And “In South Africa acquisitiveness is not so much a virus as a chronic disease of epidemic proportions. Money is what death was to Keats. A preoccupation.”

In a surreal twist of fate, Allan’s last job was as a waitress in a fine-dining restaurant in the small town of Lambertville, in New Jersey. She became a US citizen and lived in “a small ground-floor apartment, against a steel traffic barrier and a parking lot”, according to a 2013 article. She was simply known as “Juliette” – her mother’s childhood nickname – and shared her living space with her beloved Pomeranians, whom she described as “spirit guides in fur coats”.

She said in a SABC interview in 1995. “I think that my whole life, looking back at it, I was so rooted in worldly things, in worldly values, fame, fashion and fortune and all the things that are just transient.”

Sources: Wits archive, Mail & Guardian, News24 and Gareth Davies

David Charles Limerick (1939-2023)

Emeritus Professor David Limerick (BA 1960) died at the age of 84 on 13 July 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. He was born in Venterspost, where his father was mine manager, and matriculated at Krugersdorp High School. He completed a BA in psychology in 1960 at Wits and worked at the Institute of Personnel Research designing nonculture-specific IQ tests.

He married Brigid Murray (BA 1961, MEd 1972) and moved to Scotland in 1965 to undertake a PhD at Strathclyde on leadership, strategy, structure and culture. Thereafter he returned to Wits and, in 1975, aged 36, was appointed professor and head of Wits Business School.

In 1976, he was a visiting scholar at Harvard.  In 1978, he emigrated to Australia, accepting a position at the University of Melbourne Business School. Within a year he was recruited by the innovative, new, multi-disciplinary Griffith University in Brisbane, as the foundation professor in organisational behaviour. He established the Graduate School of Management there and retired in 1996.  

Professor Limerick’s research was published in key academic journals and culminated in his book, with a colleague: “Managing the New Organisation” (1993, 1998, 2002). His visionary views on organisational behaviour made him a highly sought-after management consultant, speaker and visiting professor at universities and organisations across the globe.

He was widely recognised as a forward thinker who offered groundbreaking insights on collaborative individualism, punctuated equilibrium, autopoetic models of change and interpretivist grounded models of self, leadership and change.

He is survived by his wife Brigid, daughter Tracey, son Michael, and six grandchildren.

Source: Professor Jennifer Kromberg (PhDMed 1986)

Charles Kimberlin Brain (1931-2023)

Dr Charles Kimberlin “Bob” Brain, pioneer in the field of palaeontology, died on 6 June 2023. He had dedicated his life to unravelling the mysteries of our shared human story and his most significant achievement was his work at the Swartkrans Cave in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Here, he made a series of discoveries that shed light on early hominin behaviour and evolutionary development, including the oldest evidence for the controlled use of fire by hominins, dating to about one million years ago. His influential book, The Hunters or the Hunted? An Introduction to African Cave Taphonomy (University of Chicago Press, 1981) revolutionised the field of palaeoanthropology. In it he developed the study of taphonomy: how organisms decay and fossilise.Dr Charles Kimberlin

Dr Brain was born on 7 May 1931 in Harare, Zimbabwe (then Salisbury) and he matriculated from Pretoria Boys’ High School in 1947. After obtained his Bachelor of Science degree and doctorate in zoology and geology from the University of Cape Town, he started his career at the Transvaal Museum (now the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History) in Pretoria, conducting research on rock layers of fossil hominid-bearing cave deposits. His systematic investigation revealed that each deposit had a distinct age and represented a unique climatic condition. Demonstrating his approach, Dr Brain assumed the role of curator in the Department of Lower Vertebrates in 1957, where he published several papers focusing on frogs, snakes and lizards. In 1968 he was promoted to director, a position he held for 23 years until his retirement in 1991. In 1980 he obtained his doctorate, titled “Studies in African cave taphonomy”, from Wits.

Wits awarded Dr Brain an honorary doctorate in 1981. He received other honorary degrees from the universities of Cape Town, Natal and Pretoria. His contributions to the field were also recognised with awards such as the Gold Medal of the Zoological Society, the Senior Captain Scott Memorial Medal of the South African Biological Society, the Achievement Award of the Claude Harris Leon Foundation and the John FW Herschel Medal of the Royal Society of South Africa.

He is survived by his wife Laura and four children Rosemary, Virginia, Tim and Conrad (PhD 1994).

Sources: Wits archive and Genus

Barry Dwolatzky (1952-2023)

A much-loved Wits alumnus and “Grand Geek” of digital innovation, Emeritus Professor Barry Dwolatzky (BSc Eng 1975) died on 16 May 2023 after a short illness.

His relationship with Wits spanned more than 50 years and at the time of his death he was director of innovation strategy in the office of Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation – a position he described as his “dream job”. Even after retiring, he worked alongside Wits University’s deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Lynn Morris (BSc 1981, BSc Hons 1982), to establish the Wits Innovation Centre, which was launched on 17 April 2023.Barry Dwolatzky

Affectionately referred to as “Prof Barry”, he grew up in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, living a relatively “insular childhood”. In 1971 he enrolled for an electrical engineering degree at Wits, going on to pursue a master’s degree, which he later converted to a doctorate. In his second year, he joined a student organisation, the South African Voluntary Service, which built schools and clinics in rural parts of southern Africa. The experience changed him profoundly, as he witnessed first-hand the reality of apartheid South Africa – villages filled with malnourished children, run by women and abandoned old men who’d had their lives sucked out in the mines. “I realised for the first time: how much my privilege and their underdevelopment were part of the same coin,” he said at the launch of his memoir Coded History: My Life of New Beginnings in 2022.

It was the beginning of a life as a political being, with a strong ethical compass. He left South Africa in 1979 to pursue research at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology and at Imperial College in London. He worked as a senior research associate at the GEC-Marconi Centre in the UK, work which entailed software research and development projects. On his return to South Africa in 1989, his impact as senior lecturer was pronounced. He identified the importance of programming and information technology in engineering as well as introducing a software stream, which became distinct from the electrical engineering stream. He was made full professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering in 2000.

Prof Barry demonstrated skills as an innovator and strategist and was the major driving force behind the establishment of the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering in 2005. In 2013 he spearheaded the Tshimologong Digital Precinct. The centre attracted support from government and a range of local and international companies, including IBM. He was named “South African IT Personality of the Year” in 2013. He became Tshimologong’s first director and was honoured for this visionary project with the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Academic Citizenship in 2016.

He received an award for Distinguished Service to IT from the Institute of IT Professionals of South Africa in 2016. In his acceptance speech Prof Barry said: “One of the things that I try to teach my students is that the hardest thing to manage is a software project, because you will be managing something invisible. This whole industry is invisible, yet it is the underpinning factor in the current fourth industrial revolution...” He loved young people and said: “Young people have the creativity and energy, the drive and the reason to build a new South Africa, a new Africa, and a new world. I believe in the future of our country. This is also the point of a university – to prepare people for the future.”

His life had many health challenges – he received a diagnosis of leukaemia in the 1987s and faced its recurrence in 2020. Yet, as a friend, Janet Love (BA 1988, PDM 1994), said, “he was able to do things – rather than dwell on a pile of lamentations”. He was generous with his time, listening attentively with kindness to everyone who crossed his path. Vice-Chancellor Zeblon Vilakazi used the Yiddish word “tzadik” to describe him: a wise, righteous leader respected for his sense of justice and wisdom and whose life’s work was shared among many.

He is survived by his wife, Rina King (BSc Eng 1981, PGCE 2008), and his children, Leslie (MA 2022) and Jodie (BA 2019, BA Hons 2020).

Sources: Wits archives, view memorial service

Winfried Franz Bischoff (1941-2023)

Sir Winfried Bischoff (BCom 1962) the former chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, Citigroup and JP Morgan Securities and CEO of Schroders, died after a short illness on 25 April 2023 at the age of 81.

Born in Aachen in Germany  in 1941, he arrived in South Africa after his father had set up an import/export business in 1955. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Wits in 1962 and went on to attend New York University. Sir Winfried’s father nudged his son into a career in banking on the grounds that he’d “come across many bankers when building his business and none of them seemed to be very good,” Sir Winfried said.Sir Winfried Franz Wilhelm Bischoff

He started his career at Chase Manhattan in New York. In 1966 he joined Schroders, which was a small investment bank and asset manager, and stayed for 34 years. At 29, he moved to Hong Kong to start the company’s Hong Kong operations. His first big deal was to help list Li Ka-shing’s property and manufacturing business. He returned to London in 1984 and was named Schroders’ chief executive at the age of 42. “Hong Kong was the making of my career,” he told the Financial Times in 2019. “Among candidates who’d remained in London during the 1970s, there was a sense of negativism. That’s why I think they skipped a generation and chose me.”

In the 1980s Schroders’ shares “were among the best-three performing investments” on the London Stock Exchange in the 1980s. Valued at £112m in 1984, Schroders was worth £4.5bn by 2000, when Bischoff took the call to sell its banking business to Citigroup.

He was awarded a knighthood in 2000 for his services to banking, and applauded across Wall Street, steering Citi through the early days of the US subprime mortgage crisis, acting as chief executive at the end of 2007 and serving as chair until 2009.

In 2009, he returned to the UK as chair of Lloyds Bank, which was reeling from its ill-advised takeover of HBOS and taxpayer bailout, which sparked public fury. He removed the chief executive and recruited António Horta-Osório in 2011, who shrank and de-risked the combined group.

Soon afterwards he became chair of auditing watchdog the Financial Reporting Council, but had to endure a series of accounting scandals amid corporate collapses. He also chaired JPMorgan Securities, the European arm of the US company, from 2014 until 2020.

“Much loved husband of the late Rosemary. Loving father to Christopher and Charles and devoted grandfather to five grandchildren,” his family shared in a statement after his death.

Sources: FT, Reuters and Moneyweek

Beryl Unterhalter (1928-2023)

Described as “one of those selfless souls who were the backbone of our country and Jewish community”, Dr Beryl Unterhalter (MA 1956) died on 4 April 2023 at the age of 95.

Dr Unterhalter excelled at school and majored in social work at Wits. She went on to train social workers, teach at a primary school, and lecture in social work at the University. She became a pioneering influence in the field of medical sociology.

During apartheid, she was an active member of the Liberal Party alongside her husband, Jack, who led the party in the Transvaal and worked as a civil-rights lawyer. The couple raised three children, Elaine (BA 1973), an academic in London, Karen (BA 1974), an educator based in Toronto, and David (LLB 1984), a Gauteng High Court judge.

She was “a woman of action”, with many projects on the go. She worked in early childhood education in Soweto; ran literacy programmes with young children and adults, collaborating on literacy and computer classes for domestic workers; and offered her skills to the volunteer organisation University of the Third Age (U3A). She told WITSReview in 2016: “When I retired from lecturing in sociology at Wits, I wanted to learn rather than teach. I wanted to pursue my interests in English literature, poetry and philosophy. I found my intellectual home in U3A. Among the group leaders were retired university staff who provide stimulating discussion in small groups with like-minded third-agers.”

After her death, her son David said: “People talk a great deal about the value of giving, but there are those who actually do it as opposed to thinking about it. My mother’s great virtue was that she was a doer of boundless energy and effort.”

Sources: Wits archive, SA Jewish Report

Shulamith Behr, née Ruch (1964-2023)

Honorary research fellow and former senior faculty member of the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, Dr Shulamith Behr (BA FA 1969, BA Hons 1972) died on 7 April 2023 at the age of 76.Shulamith Behr

She was born in Johannesburg on 21 December 1946, into a family of Lithuanian Jewish heritage, and was the youngest of three sisters. She graduated from Wits in 1969, receiving the Henri Lidchi Prize as the top undergraduate student in history of art. She went on to lecture at Wits for seven years, when Professor Heather Martienssen was head of the department.

Dr Behr completed her studies in art history and theory at the University of Essex before joining The Courtauld’s faculty in 1990, as Bosch lecturer in German art. She held the post of senior lecturer in 20th century German art until her appointment in 2012 as honorary research fellow. As a specialist in the study of German Expressionism she admitted to having had a long “fascination with materials and print production in the works of the twentieth century”.

Her publications encompassed the contribution of women artists to German and Swedish modernism. Her richly illustrated “Women Artists in Expression: From Empire to Emancipation” (Princeton, 2022) explored how women negotiated the competitive world of modern art in Germany. Their stories challenge predominantly male-oriented narratives of Expressionism and shed light on the divergent artistic responses of women to the dramatic events of the early 20th century. Commentators have praised this work for “dismantling” the canonical histories of modernism as well as painting a clearer image of how women Expressionist artists were regarded during their lifetimes.

She was a supportive scholar and she published and edited numerous books, book chapters, reviews and catalogue contributions. She curated four exhibitions, ran 12 research seminars and conferences, made 22 guest contributions to conferences and symposia, several of these as keynote speaker, and gave 27 public lectures across the world. She taught hundreds of BA and MA students and supervised 20 students to completion of their PhD degrees.

There were numerous recognitions of Dr Behr’s excellence in research, such as fellowships at Wolfson College, and at the Centre for Research in the Arts, University of Cambridge as well as a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship.  

Dr Behr was described as “a woman before her time, who combined many fine qualities: the rigor and joy of academia as an inspiring teacher and outstanding researcher … Behind her softness and loveliness was an iron will and determination that saw her not only through the many trials in her life, but also through much of her final illness.”

She is survived by her husband Bernard (BCom 1968) and her sons Elijah and Gabriel and their wider family.

Sources: Bernard Behr, Burlington magazine and The Courtauld

Tiego Moseneke (1962-2023)

Former president of the Wits Black Students’ Society (BSS) Tiego Moseneke (BProc 1989) died on 19 April 2023 in a car accident at the age of 60.

He was born on 8 November 1962 in Atteridgeville in Tshwane, the fifth son of school teachers Karabo and Samuel Moseneke and youngest brother of former Wits Chancellor and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke (LLD honoris causa 2018).

Moseneke attended primary school in his home village of Pheli and high school in Mamelodi. His grades were filled with distinctions, which ensured an easy entry into Wits on a scholarship from Anglo American for a BCom degree, but this was later changed to law. As a result of the Group Areas Act, he lived at the Mofolo Salvation Army Students’ Residence, and later moved to Glyn Thomas House, on the grounds of the Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. Valuable study time was lost during the daily two-hour commute by bus and after-hour access to libraries “was a pipe dream”.Tiego Moseneke

Absorbing the influence of many student activists at Glyn Thomas, he went on to be elected president of the Black Students Society in 1983 – among others such as David Johnson (BA 1984), Firoz Cachalia (BA 1981, BA Hons 1983, LLB 1988, HDipCoLaw 2003), Chris Ngcobo (BA 1987) and Themba Maseko (BA 1988, LLB 1993).

When the BSS was banned, Moseneke’s resistance to apartheid morphed into active membership of and participation in the United Democratic Front. His activism came at great cost. He was arrested frequently and bore the brunt of violent encounters with the security police. According to the Moseneke family he was detained under emergency regulations for two years continuously and he had frequent asthma attacks while in detention.

With the dawn of democracy, Moseneke was a member of the first Gauteng ANC executive after the unbanning of the party and continued in other senior roles. He set up a law practice, founded the New Diamond Corporation, which partnered with De Beers in diamond mining and exploration, and later New Platinum Corporation, which was sold to Jubilee Platinum. He was founder and chair of the Encha Group, an investment house, at the time of his death.

Moseneke was passionate about intergenerational dialogues between past and current student leaders. He was a founding chairman, along with other Wits alumni, of the South Africa Student Solidarity Foundation for Education, a fund started by a group of former student leaders in April 2016. It led the way in supporting the Masidleni Daily Meal Project under the Wits Food Bank, which provides meals to students from disadvantaged backgrounds and aims to combat hunger and food insecurity on campus.

At his memorial service, held at Wits on 31 May 2023, former Wits SRC members spoke fondly of him: “He stressed innovative ways of addressing the annual fees crisis. Most importantly, he gelled well across generations. I never felt less wise when conversing with him — yet every moment was an opportunity to learn from him,” said Mpendulo Shakes Mfeka, SRC President 2021/22. “When we were slandered, shunned and demonised as hooligans, Tiego reached out a protective brotherly arm, provided a listening ear and empathetic words of comfort,” said Shafee Verachia, SRC President 2013/2014.

He is survived by his wife Koketso and children Didintle, Mooketsi and Pako.

Sources: Wits archives, Moseneke memorial

Andrew Robertson (1943-2023)

Dr Andrew “Andy” Robertson (BSc Eng 1966, GDE 1977, PhD 1977) the founder of mining industry geotechnical and environmental engineering services company Robertson GeoConsultants and co-founder of engineering consultancy SRK Global died on 29 March 2023 at the age of 79.

Dr Robertson was born in 1943 in Pretoria, South Africa, where he was exposed to mining from a young age. In 1966, he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering as well as a doctorate from Wits.Dr Andrew Robertson

In 1974 he, along with Oskar Steffen (BSc Eng 1961, MSc Eng 1963, PhD 1978), and Hendrik Kirsten (BSc Eng 1963, MSc Eng 1966, PhD 1986), formed Steffen, Robertson & Kirsten (SRK) in Johannesburg, the only consulting firm in Africa to specialise in mining geotechnics at the time.

Four years later in 1977, Robertson moved to Canada to start the first international branch of what became SRK Consulting. Several offices in the United States were formed under his guidance. In these early formative years of the company, he provided strong guidance and mentorship to many young engineers and geoscientists. Many went on to develop distinguished careers within SRK as well as other consulting or mining companies. Today, SRK has over 1600 employees worldwide in 40+ offices.

In addition to SRK, Dr Robertson developed several other companies that serve the mining industry. He supported the development of Gemcom in 1981, the mining industry’s first PC-based exploration database as well as ore deposit modelling, and open pit mine planning software system. In 2012, Gemcom was sold to Dassault Systèmes, owner of GEOVIA.

In 1989, he launched InfoMine, with the vision of making mining information more widely available. He spearheaded the digital strategy that became the cornerstone of the company and under his leadership, InfoMine expanded to include (training), CareerMine (recruitment), and (news).

In 1995, he founded Robertson GeoConsultants, a specialised, international mining consultancy based in Vancouver, BC. His consulting practice included serving on several peer-review panels and independent review boards for some of the highest and most challenging tailing dams in the world.

From the 1980s to 2000, Dr Robertson worked on foundational research for the testing, prediction, and control of acid rock drainage (ARD). He was a contributing member of the British Columbia ARD Task Force from 1985 to 1990, which published some of the industry’s first ARD guidelines. He wrote or contributed to industry technical guides on mine waste management, uranium mill waste disposal, and guidelines for the rehabilitation of mines. These guidelines established the foundation for environmental best practices in the industry.

His interest in raising industry standards was a pervasive theme through his work. He was instrumental in pioneering the use of failure mode and effects analysis —one of the first systematic techniques for failure analysis—and multiple accounts analysis for engineered solutions in the mining industry. In the late 1990s, he published several papers that are still referenced today in the mining industry.

During his career, Dr Robertson worked tirelessly to protect the environment, communities, water quality, and water supplies. He leveraged his background in rock mechanics, geotechnical engineering, and geochemistry to raise the bar for environmental stewardship within the industry and for the work products he delivered.

Dr Robertson was passionate about improving the design, construction, operation, and closure of tailings dams. To make tailings dams safer, he advocated for improving the technology used for the design, construction, and long-term stability of tailing dams; for fiscal responsibility in the construction and operation of these dams; and for governance so today’s designs account for the needs of future generations and changes in societal expectations.

Beside his brilliant mind, business acumen, and ability to spot talent, he was also admired for his humility, kindness, and generosity. He was always willing to share his knowledge through publications, courses, and countless meetings and discussions. His legacy will live on in all the engineers and scientists he has mentored over his remarkably long and successful career.

Source: SRK Global

Barry Orlek (1949-2023)

Dr Barry Orlek (BSc 1971, PhD 1976) died on 11 March 2023, at his home in Epping, England, after a long battle with myeloma.

He was born in Vereeniging, matriculated from General Smuts High in 1966, and obtained a bachelor of science degree in industrial chemistry in 1971 as well as his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1976 from Wits.

In 1977 he moved to the United Kingdom to take up a postdoctoral position at City, University of London, under Professor Peter Sammes, where he undertook research on the chemistry of beta-lactamase inhibitors. He joined Beecham Pharmaceuticals (now GlaxoSmithKline) in 1981, working as a medicinal chemist on several different drug discovery research programmes until his retirement in 2008.

During his retirement he spent many hours pursuing his passion for photography – both behind the lens and at exhibitions in the UK and abroad. It’s a passion he shared with his wife Ilana. He maintained strong ties with South Africa, visiting every year to see family and friends and to spend time in the bush.

He leaves his wife Ilana and sons Jonathan and Alex.

Source: Orlek family

Cecilia Sentson (1966-2023)

Cecilia Sentson (BSC 1989, BCom 1990) was born on 31 May 1966 and died on 12 May 2023, days before her 57th birthday.

She started her primary school career at St Theresa’s Convent in Coronationville in 1972, where her love of learning and reading was nurtured. She proceeded to St Barnabas High School and matriculated in 1983.

She studied at Wits, completing a BSc in information systems and thereafter pursued a BCom honours degree. She was awarded a scholarship to study towards an MBA at City University in the United Kingdom.

On her return to South Africa, she was appointed as senior lecturer in the school of computer science and applied mathematics for several years.

She was employed by Gemini Consulting as a strategy consultant, by Coca-Cola Group as its head of Information Technology Strategy and executive for Africa and the Middle East.

Her entrepreneurial journey started several years ago and involved the establishment of many ventures which culminated in the creation of her company which she aptly named Neland Consulting, in honour of her maternal grandmother.

She had a larger-than-life personality.

Felicity Eggleston (1937-2023)

Felicity Eggleston, previous assistant registrar at Wits from 1981 until retiring in 1997, passed away peacefully on the 8 May 2023 aged 86 years.

Felicity was fiercely loyal to Wits, pouring over her alumni magazines as they arrived. She was much valued and respected by top management and vice-chancellors, touching their lives as well as those of SRC representatives and students. 

She joined the University at the end of the MacCrone era and listened to farewell speeches for him, Professors Bozzoli, du Plessis, Tyson and lastly Professor Charlton. During her tenure she saw student numbers double in size and Wits expand onto West Campus. She had a strong sense of justice and had multiple memories of picketing along Jan Smuts Avenue in protest against government discriminatory action, with staff linking arms on the university perimeter, their backs to the police and students on the inside.

She started working at Wits in 1968 as secretary to the deputy academic registrar and stayed at Wits in various capacities until her retirement in 1997 having served Wits for almost 30 years.

  • 1969 senior clerk and personal assistant to academic registrar
  • 1972 secretary of faculty of arts for 5 years
  • 1977 invited back to central administration to oversee 10 Faculty offices, and then ran the senate secretariat for many years.
  • 1978 Appointed senior administrative officer
  • 1981 (Senior) Assistant Registrar (Academic)
  • 1990 Head of Faculty Administration and Senate Secretariat

Following her retirement, she started work as registrar of St Augustine's College in Jan 1998, establishing the new Catholic university which opened 13 July 1999. She retired 11 years later after seeing her first students graduate in 2011/2012. She also assisted the Sandton Democratic alliance in 2010.   

She played hockey for KZN as a university student, was a birder, climber, hiker, campaigner, feminist, inveterate traveller. Her travels included:

  • Climbing mountains in UK, Europe (including the Matterhorn), Namibia and many Magaliesburg and Drakensberg peaks;
  • Numerous solo travels in Europe in the late 1950s, early 1960s. Here she had numerous temporary jobs including honing her skills working with the Co-coordinating Secretariat of National Student Unions in Holland, Geneva World University Service and living in and working for the Translation Bureau of the Turkish State Planning Organisation for a year;
  • Machu Picchu as part of a base camp expedition then on to travelling through South America for three months;
  • Botswana numerous times resulting in her involvement in Okavango conservation for a period; and
  • Numerous archaeological trips locally as well as Ethiopia, Tunisia and Egypt.

She hosted wonderful dinner parties with a vast circle of friends including work colleagues who became dear friends. Indeed her friendship circle was so wide she seldom needed to stay in a hotel whilst travelling anywhere! She was gentle kind, courteous and “proper” lady who always managed to smile and had a positive attitude towards everything even in her later years.

She leaves a nephew and three nieces. Two of her nieces, their spouses as well as a great nephew and niece are also Wits graduates.

Source: Caroline Reuss, née Harte (BSc Nurs 1987)

Joseph Pamensky (1930-2023)

Joseph Leon Pamensky – or “Papa Joe” (CTA 1953) – died on 8 March 2023, in Johannesburg after a long battle with dementia at the age of 92.

Pamensky was born in Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) on 21 July 1930 to jewellery store owners Samuel and Freda Pamensky. He attended Grey High School, excelling in maths and playing first team cricket, where he opened the innings and kept wicket.

Pamensky studied as a chartered accountant at Wits and played club cricket for the university and, later, at Pirates in Johannesburg. Dr Ali Bacher (MBBCh 1967, LLD honoris causa 2001) remained a life-long friend and colleague.

Pamensky served on the Wits All Sports’ Council as a student and was elected to the Transvaal Cricket Union’s junior board as a 23-year-old in 1953 before being elected to the full board two years later. On the Transvaal board, he served as vice-chairperson, chairperson, treasurer – and, eventually, president. His election onto the South African Cricketers’ Association board followed in 1967. He was one of the drivers of the negotiations which lead to the formation of the South African Cricket Union in 1976 and was its president until 1991. He was one of the “main drivers of the short-lived unity process in the mid-1970s and, as honorary president, was supportive of Dr Bacher becoming Transvaal cricket’s first full-time chief executive in 1981.

During the 1980s, with the national team banned from international competition after the cancellation of the proposed tour to Australia in 1971/2, Pamensky, Bacher, and fellow administrator Geoff Dakin initiated the controversial “rebel tours”. This resulted in English, Sri Lankan, West Indian, and Australian tours to the country.

In 1987, Pamensky received the Order of Meritorious Service Gold Medal by the South African government. He was also a member of the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Chartered Accountant of the Year 1984) and an honorary life member of Melbourne Cricket Club as well as Cricket South Africa and Gauteng cricket.

Seven years ago, Pamensky was diagnosed with dementia. He had remarried after the death of his first wife Pamela, nèe Goldberg, 14 years ago.

He is survived by his second wife Jackie, children Kevin (BA 1986), Martin and Beverly.

Sources: Archives, Cricket South Africa, South African Jewish Report

Mark Pilgrim (1969-2023)

Veteran South African broadcaster Mark Pilgrim died on 5 March 2023 at the age of 53, after battling stage four lung cancer.

He was born in England and moved to South Africa at the age of nine, matriculating from Sasolburg High School. He started his studies at Wits in 1987, completing two years towards a bachelor of commerce degree, which he never completed. Instead, his interest in radio was sparked on the campus radio station Voice of Wits. This followed many successful years at various radio stations such as 5FM, 94.7 and KFM.

In 2014 he joined a new station Hot 91.9 FM in Johannesburg, and in 2015 won the MTN Radio Award for Best Weekend Radio Show. In 2019 he won the Liberty Radio Award for the Best Daytime Show in South Africa and in 2021 he was inducted into the South African Hall of Fame for his contribution to the industry.

The radio DJ won multiple awards throughout his career and the South African radio industry honoured Pilgrim by inducting him into the Radio Awards Hall of Fame in July 2021.

He married Nicole Torres in 2007 and after almost 13 years together, divorced in 2020. They had two children, Tayla-Jean and Alyssa, together.

Pilgrim also ventured into TV in 2001 when he was host of the first season of Big Brother South Africa. In 2002 he returned to host the second season, and in 2003 he hosted the first season of Big Brother Africa. He worked as an MC and motivational speaker and was an advocate for positivity, inspiring others with his own experiences. He published his autobiography, Beyond the Baldness (Tracey MacDonald Publishing, 2015) and from 2013 to early 2016, he wrote a monthly column about parenting from a dad's perspective for Living and Loving magazine.

Pilgrim was diagnosed with aggressive stage 3 testicular cancer, which spread to his lungs and kidneys, in 1988. He was 18 years old. After 33 years in remission, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. In June 2022 he revealed that the cancer had spread to his femur, the base of his spine, and his lymph nodes. He launched a YouTube video series chronicling his treatment.

He was discharged from hospital, two months later, in time to ring in the new year with his fiancée, Adrienne Watkins.

Sources: News 24 and Wits archives

David A Lipschitz (1943-2023)

Dr David Lipschitz (MBBCh 1966, PhD Med 1973) affectionally known as "Dr David," passed away on 6 March 2023 surrounded by his family. He was born in Johannesburg, the eldest of four children. Ever the entrepreneur, he once dug up all the plants in his father's garden and attempted to sell them on the roadside. Luckily, he moved beyond his mischievous ways and went on to study medicine at Wits.

Following in his father's footsteps, Dr Lipschitz emigrated to the United States in 1972,
training as a haematologist at the University of Washington and doing the seminal research in the development of the serum ferritin assay, a tool that is still used to help evaluate iron levels in blood. After stints at Montefiore Medical Centre and Kansas University Medical School, he joined the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) as director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology.

Dr Lipschitz flourished in Little Rock. He began research on the effects of nutrition on aging, which led to a lifelong focus on the unique medical needs of older people. In 1995, he assumed the position of director of the Centre on Aging at UAMS. Under his leadership, UAMS received $30.2 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to establish the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics and the Institute on Aging. He went on to facilitate the development of a state-wide network for geriatric care, ensuring that every older Arkansan had access to high quality medical care.

While Dr Lipschitz was an exceptional leader in medical research and administration, his greatest passion being educating his patients and the public about healthy aging. He often said, "Everything you've been told about growing older is wrong!" Through his weekly newspaper columns, radio shows and television segments, he empowered people to live each day to the fullest. Well before "body positivity”.

He never missed an opportunity to crack a corny joke, hum a made-up tune, or dance as if no one was watching (though clearly everyone was!). This voracious appetite for life also meant he was never afraid to put a fork on someone else's plate – resulting in a whole generation of speed eaters. He was endlessly devoted to his three French bulldogs, Barkley, Mochi, and Peaches. They were expertly trained to sleep in a pile on his lap while he watched murder mystery shows for hours.
But most of all he loved his family, his wife, Francie, who he said was the most brilliant mother and physician in the world; his six children, Andrea, Elan, Howard, Riley, Forbes, and Evan; and his grandchildren.

Source: Arkansas Gazette

David L James (1927-2023)

David Leslie James, known as “Dave” (BSc Mech Eng 1950, BSc Elec Eng 1952) was born in 1927 and he lived his early childhood in mining company towns on the Witwatersrand such as Robertson Deep, Sub Nigel and Vogelstruisbult.

He went to primary school at Pridwin Preparatory School and later became a boarder at Michaelhouse in Natal, which he enjoyed, especially being set free to wander around the countryside on a Sunday. His family owns a letter he wrote to his mother at the time: “Dear Ma. Please send a small frying pan, some tins of bully beef and some small blocks of jellified methylated spirits. Love, David.”

In 1945 he started an engineering degree, but quit after about a month when he found the syllabus replicated what he had done the year before in sixth form and joined the war effort, stationed at the naval base in Saldanha Bay. The following year he resumed his studies at Wits, where he met his wife, Jenepher, in 1948, at a tennis party. He graduated with a BSc Mech Eng in 1950, and then with BSc Elec Eng in 1952. He started his master’s degree, working under the supervision of Costa Rallis (BSc Eng 1947, MSc Eng 1948, PhD 1963, DSc honoris causa 2003. He married Jenepher (DipArch 1967) in February and they went to live in the married students’ quarters at Cottesloe. That’s where they met many of the people who became lifelong friends, like Tony and Joy Eagle and Dorothea and Gerald Zeffert (DipArch 1954).

James worked for the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research briefly and then joined the Physics Department at Wits, where he worked as a lecturer for about 40 years, mainly teaching students in electrical engineering. He was much loved and much appreciated by his students, one of whom observed that he was “one of the last of the old school of dedicated university teachers, unappreciated and undervalued by the authorities, who rendered enormous service to the generations of undergraduates they taught”.

In his leisure time he built boats, took groups of students and his family on skin diving and camping holidays in Mozambique, and eventually – after retirement – politely turned down an offer by the Physics Department to continue as a lecturer, and completed the building of a boat which he then sailed to the Comores, Madagascar and up the east coast of Africa as far as Kenya. A former Wits colleague described James as a “cross between Scott of the Antarctic and a slightly older version of a hippy – a sort of glorified tramp. Never happier than when sailing somewhere, travelling across the most inhospitable terrain of Lesotho or camping on some beach on which no-one has previously set foot.”

After restoring the Stillbay holiday house that had belonged to his grandfather, he and Jenepher spent the last years of their retirement there.

He kept in touch with his old friends, especially John Crawford (BSc 1959) and Eddie Price (BSc Hons 1960), both of whom predeceased him.

He died on 14 February 2023. He leaves Jenepher, four children – Deborah (BA 1975, BA Hons 1980, MA 1988, PhD 1994), Nicholas (BSc Eng 1981, GDE 1985), Simon (PDipEd 1986) and Melissa (BA 1986, BA Hons 1987) – and nine grandchildren.

Source: Deborah James

Phil Levinsohn (1939-2023)

Chairperson of the Press Council of South Africa Judge Phillip Levinsohn (LLB 1963) died on 21 February 2023 at the age of 83 after a brief illness. He practised as advocate of the Durban Bar from 1971 and took silk in 1988. After a respected career at the Bar, he was appointed as judge of this division in 1990. In 2006 he was appointed as Deputy Judge President of the division, a post which he held until his retirement on 23 August 2009. He contributed widely and followed the affairs of the Bar both locally and nationally and served for many years on the National Bar Examinations Board throughout his time and into retirement.

He was described as "a gentle, caring man who was a fierce defender of media freedom and a passionate believer in fair media coverage as espoused by the Press Code

He is survived by his wife Phyllis, and children Deborah, Jacques, Gideon, and Adam.

Sources: The South African Judiciary, News24

Brian A Lieberman (1942-2023)

Professor Brian Abraham Lieberman (MBBCh 1965) passed away on 20 February 2023.

Professor Lieberman was born in Johannesburg and educated at Grey College in Bloemfontein from 1955-1959, and he obtained his degree in medicine from Wits in 1965. He moved to London in 1971 to take up a post at St Mary's Hospital. There he specialised in laparoscopic sterilisation, on which he published a number of research papers from 1974 onwards including in the Lancet in 1976.  

Professor Lieberman took up a post at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in September 1978. Inspired by the early work of fertility pioneers he established the world's first publicly funded IVF unit at St Mary's in 1982. He founded the Department of Reproductive Medicine and remained medical director until his retirement in 2007. He also established the private Manchester Fertility Services clinic in 1986 and remained a director until 2009. 

Professionally, Professor Lieberman made extremely important contributions to the field of IVF from the early days onwards. He was a leader in the development of clinical practice in IVF, fertility preservation, embryo research and embryonic stem cell biology. He founded the National Egg and Embryo Donation Society, the forerunner of the National Gamete Donation Trust. Professor Lieberman wrote over 100 academic papers and numerous textbooks and chapters over a research career from 1969-2011. He was made an honorary professor at the University of Manchester in 2006 and an honorary member of the British Fertility Society in 2018. 

He was instrumental in the careers of many in reproductive medicine. To his enormous credit, he placed great value on the expertise of others and particularly enjoyed surrounding himself with people who in his words “know things that I don't”. In that respect he was an excellent leader.

Professor Lieberman had many interests outside of academia, including a long-standing interest in African art and travel in the African continent, including an overland trip to climb Mount Kenya to raise money for charity. He was a keen sportsman, representing his school at rugby, cricket and swimming. In later life, he became an avid golfer and is now buried as close as possible to the eighth hole at his golf club. He was an avid Manchester United fan, and a season ticket holder.

He is survived by his wife, Bernice, and three children.

Source: Professor Daniel Brison

Peter Davey (1953-2023)

Independent non-executive director of mining company Implats, Peter William Davey (MBA 1990), passed away on 7 February 2023 after a short illness. He was a respected mining engineer with substantial production experience in South Africa's deep-level platinum and gold mining industries.

He was employed at the company in the 1970s after completing his Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering from Cardiff University in 1976. He completed his Master of Business Administration at Wits and began his second career in the finance industry. He worked at some of the world’s leading investment banking and audit institutions based in Johannesburg and London, where he specialised in mining equity research and sales, for more than 25 years.Peter William Davey

Davey had in-depth knowledge and a broad personal network across both the South African and global mining industry and financial sector and was highly respected by the executives in the global mining companies he researched and the investor base he advised. He remained abreast of societal and industry challenges and he was an avid reader and regular participant at industry conferences and forums.

Implats chairperson, Thandi Orleyn, said: “Peter embodied an unparalleled combination of technical and financial experience, impeccable ethics, deep compassion, and a personal commitment to driving Implats to excel in the broader aspects of social and environmental performance. We will miss his diligence and our debates, and we mourn the loss of a deeply respected and trusted colleague.”

Davey is survived by his wife, Jo, his children Richard and Katherine (BCom 2002), and their families.

Source: Implats

Carmela Heilbron (1940-2023)

The last remaining Holocaust survivor in KwaZulu-Natal, Carmela Heilbron, née Heyman (BA 1962), died on 13 January 2023. According to the Wits archive, she was born in Kaunas, Lithuania in 1940. She had a traumatic childhood, growing up in the Kovno ghetto during World War II, and was smuggled out with the help of the Catholic Church. Heilbron, like many children, was handed over the Red Cross at the end of the war. She reunited with her mother and sister, who had been sent to Auschwitz, and the trio moved to Tanzania. Most of her immediate family died during the Holocaust.

The Wits archive indicates she matriculated from Ndola Government School in Zambia in 1956 and studied at Wits between 1957 and 1961.

In 2008, Heilbron became a guide at the emerging Durban Holocaust & Genocide Centre and continued to volunteer there until 2014. Her experience is recorded in the digital record of experiences of 34 Holocaust survivors who found refuge in Portraits of Survival Volume 1: The Holocaust. In it she says: “Take a good look at what’s happening around you. Don’t ever turn around and say it’s not there because it’s not affecting you. The important message is to take action. Speak up, because when you don’t speak up, it just compounds itself into a hideous situation.”

She married Lew Heilbron and had two children. Her daughter, Mandy, passed away at the age of 36. She is survived by her husband, son Steven and her grandchildren.

Sources: Wits archive, SA Jewish Report, Durban Holocaust & Genocide Centre

Marie-Joséphine Whitaker (1925-2023)

Marie-Joséphine Whitaker, who died in London on 11 January 2023, was professor of French at Wits from 1978 to 1988. An international authority on the work of the French poet, essayist and dramatist Paul Claudel, she was honoured by the French government for her role in disseminating French culture in southern Africa.Professor Marie-Josephine Whitaker

Professor Whitaker was born Marie-Joséphine Polakiewicz in what was then eastern Poland and is now south-western Ukraine, and used to describe herself as “Polish by birth, French by culture”. Forced to flee in 1940 from the Russian occupation of eastern Poland, she embarked on an epic refugee journey with her mother and sister, ending in Cape Town, where she read for her bachelor’s and master’s at the University of Cape Town. As a graduate student she met her husband, Frank Whitaker, when he was sent to her to brush up his French after returning from war service.

Lecturing in French at UCT and bearing four children – a fifth was stillborn – did not prevent Professor Whitaker from obtaining her doctorate at the Sorbonne. She took the two youngest children with her to Paris. Her thesis on the work of the poet Arthur Rimbaud was published in 1972 as La Structure du monde imaginaire de Rimbaud. When the family moved to Johannesburg in the mid-1960s, she joined the French Department at Wits, becoming its head in 1978.

As professor, she continued to research and publish, mainly on Claudel, and hosted the biennial conference of the Association for French Studies in Southern Africa, which she helped to found. The French government, which made her Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques in 1978, promoted her to Officier in 1985.

On retirement in 1988 Professor Whitaker moved with her husband to Paris, where she was active in French academic life, publishing and being invited to lecture at French and Polish universities. She published a critical edition of Claudel’s La Messe là-bas in 2009, but after 22 years in France, age forced the couple to move in 2010 to London, where she lamented that the subject of her life’s work was almost unknown, despite WH Auden’s famous couplet:

“Time will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardon him for writing well.”

But on hearing of her death, the writer’s grandson, François Claudel, praised her “remarkable knowledge of my grandfather’s work, that she admired and knew how to share”.

Frank died in 2014. Professor Whitaker is survived by Raymond (BA 1970), Richard (BA 1971), Christopher and Helen (BA 1978), eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Source: Raymond Whitaker

In Memoriam 2022 cntd

Joan Munday (1928-2022)

Joan Munday (BSc 1948, MSc 1980) died peacefully on 29 December 2022 in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Born in Bloemfontein, she completed her schooling as a boarder at Johannesburg High School for Girls Barnato Park. She went on to study at Wits, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in 1948. After graduating she was awarded a scholarship to conduct plant research at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens herbarium in Cape Town. In the 1950s she left South Africa for the United Kingdom, where she lived for several years, working in the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London. It was here that she began to specialise as a taxonomic botanist.

While learning German at a language school in London she met her husband Ken (HDipTax 1983), who had recently been demobilised from the British Army’s occupation of Germany, and they married in 1956. Their son Nicholas was born in London. Later they moved to Johannesburg, where they had two more sons: Martin (BA 1986, MA 1988) and Christopher (BA 1988, BA Hons 1989, MA 1993, PGDipM 1992). 

In 1972 Munday returned to Wits to work as a taxonomic botanist in the Department of Botany’s Moss Herbarium. She focused her research on grasses and desert plants and completed an MSc in 1980, with her dissertation on the plant genus Monechma. Fieldwork took her around Southern Africa. She and her husband both enjoyed wildlife and had a shared passion for studying birds of prey.

While working at Wits, she provided volunteer support to the Johannesburg General Hospital’s Poison Centre helpline by identifying plants that patients had ingested. After retiring in 1988, she wrote the field guide Poisonous Plants in South African Gardens and Parks (Delta, 1988) with illustrations by the botanical artist Joan van Gogh.

Munday settled in Plettenberg Bay and when Ken died in 2019, they had been married for nearly 63 years. She is survived by her three sons and two grandchildren.

Source: Munday family

Charles Simkins (1949-2022)

Renowned economist and inaugural holder of the Helen Suzman Chair in political economy at Wits, Professor Charles Simkins (BSc 1969, BSc Hon 1970) died after a long illness on 8 December 2022, 48 hours after his beloved wife Rae Gower.

After completing an honours degree in physics at Wits in 1970, he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, and obtained a master’s in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University. He then completed a PhD in economics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg.

Professor Simkins was involved in civil society organisations and initiatives for the greater part of his life. This activism first appeared during his undergraduate days at Wits, when he was elected to the Student Representative Council as treasurer. He was involved in helping to create a non-racial trade union movement, which led to him being banned for five years under the Suppression of Communism Act until November 1976. He was given permission to relocate to the Pietermaritzburg campus, where he created the Development Studies Research Group. It was during this time that he met and married his wife.

After his banning order was lifted, he moved to Cape Town, where he joined the Economics Department at the University of Cape Town. Later he moved to Johannesburg to join the Urban Foundation, subsequently working at Wits and St Augustine’s College. He joined the Helen Suzman Foundation in 2014, building up a research profile on a broad range of subjects such as health and land reform, infrastructure problems (including water and electricity) and constitutional issues, especially those surrounding electoral reform.

In a tribute to Professor Simkins, the historian RW Johnson said he was immediately struck by the “subtlety and complexity of his intelligence” when their paths crossed at Oxford. “He was a quiet, modest and very gentle man without political ambition”, who saw “opposition to apartheid as a moral imperative rather than a political act”.

For the last decade of his life Professor Simkins devoted himself to the care of his ill wife.

Source: Helen Suzman Foundation, Politicsweb

Louis Berman (1934-2022)

Dr Louis Berman (MBBCh 1957) was born on 27 February 1934 in Johannesburg to Isaac and Dora Berman. He was the first in his family to attend University and graduated as a physician, and went on to specialise in rheumatology in Chicago and London.

He married fellow Witsie Dr Margaret Spitz (MBBCh 1966) and the couple emigrated to Houston in the United States. Dr Berman built a thriving rheumatology practice and was much beloved by his patients and staff.

Dr Berman developed a love of the beach from his childhood in Muizenberg, Cape Town and an annual beach vacation became a family tradition. His hobbies included listening to classical music and creative writing. One of his favourite activities was taking his grandchildren to bookstores and buying armloads of books for them. He had a passion for learning and had a remarkable ability to translate the complex into the simple. He learned to play the piano by ear listening to his sister’s lessons and after retiring took piano lessons himself.

Dr Berman died on 26 December 2022 and he is survived by his three children and seven grandchildren.

Source: Jewish Herald Voice Online

Richard Enthoven (1937-2022)

Richard “Dick” Enthoven (DCom honoris causa 2021) was a distinguished, if reclusive, South African entrepreneur and philanthropist, who died on 2 December 2022 after a battle with cancer.

Born in 1937, Enthoven was the son of Dutch immigrant insurance broker Robert Enthoven, whose insurance brokerage business started in the 1950s and evolved into Hollard. Richard, in turn, was instrumental in building iconic South African and international businesses, including Auto and General, Nando’s, Direct Axis, & Beyond and Spier Wine Estate.

In 1970 he was elected as a member of the Transvaal Provincial Council and in 1974 he became a member of parliament for the United Party, but was expelled in 1975 for “disloyalty”.

He was a renowned lover of the arts and supported many South African artists, as well as building art institutions. He provided the generous catalytic funding for the Wits Art Museum as well as the Johannesburg Contemporary Art Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to play a role in globalising contemporary South African art. Enthoven’s passion for architectural heritage resulted in the restoration of one of Johannesburg’s important heritage sites, Villa Arcadia.

Wits bestowed an honorary doctorate in commerce on him in 2021. His favourite quote was “the gratification of wealth is not found in mere possession or in lavish expenditure, but in its wise application”, from the novel Don Quixote.
Enthoven is survived by five children and 14 grandchildren.

Sources: Wits University and News24

John Bradley (1937-2022)

Educationist, academic and friend of Wits University for over five decades, Professor John Bradley died on 28 December 2022.

Professor Bradley was born in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire and joined the Wits School of Chemistry in 1964 after completing his studies at the University of Leeds, the University of London (King’s College) and his postdoctoral fellowship at Florida State University.

In the early 1980s, out of concern for educationally disadvantaged students, he spearheaded initiatives to provide students with access to science education. These initiatives included an entry-level and a research programme in chemistry education. In 1990, Professor Bradley became director of the University’s Centre for Research and Development in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (RADMASTE), a centre which developed maths and science education resources. He moved with RADMASTE when it was relocated to the Wits School of Education in 2003.

 According to colleagues, he persistently challenged them “to think big, to think contemporary, and never to be complacent” about their teaching offerings. He was one of the co-creators of the Centre for Microscience Experiments associated with UNESCO, and helped establish the UNESCO-IUPAC Global Programme in Microscience. He published widely on research emanating from this area in the past two decades.  

Professor Bradley served as the president of the South African Chemical Institute, as chairperson of the IUPAC Committee on the teaching of chemistry (1996-2001), and as chair of the ministerial task team responsible for developing a national strategy for maths, science and technology education. He was a finalist in the 2018 National Science and Technology Forum Awards and received the International Organization for Chemical Science in Development’s Pierre Crabbé Prize in 2003.

He married Elizabeth Le Roux Wessels in 1962 and they had three children, Richard, Jocelyn (BA 1989, BA Hons 1990, MA 1995) and Julia.

Source: Wits University

Henry Nathanson (1927 – 2022)

Henry Nathanson (BA 1947, LLB 1949), the last surviving member of the famous law class of 1949, that included Nelson Mandela (LLD honoris causa 1991), passed away peacefully on 3 December 2022, at his home in Glenhazel.

Born in Kroonstad in 1927, he later attended high school at Jeppe Boys. He enrolled for chemical engineering degree at Wits in 1944, but, switched to law the following year, despite his excellent results.

Articled to Max Pinchuk at Wertheim & Becker, he later started his own firm of Nathanson Bowman & Nathan. He enjoyed a successful career as an attorney, notary, and conveyancer in Johannesburg, for 50 years.

He was a keen bowls player, but also enjoyed watching rugby and cricket, playing bridge, and was a keen amateur philatelist. He possessed a fine sense of humour and able to lighten up a difficult moment with a suitable amusing quip. He was very pleased to attend the 1949 Wits Law Class Reunion in 1996, that Mandela also attended.

His wife Sheila predeceased him, as did his two sons Irwin and Mark who had severe disabilities and he is survived by his daughter Anne Wilkinson.

Source: Sarel de Klerk

Gavin Norton (1961-2022)

Professor Gavin Norton (BSc 1982, MBBCh 1986, PhD Med 1993), a much loved and respected member of the Wits staff in the Faculty of Health Sciences, died on 1 December 2022.

Prof Norton joined the University as a junior lecturer in 1989. Four years later, he founded and became the director of the Cardiovascular Pathophysiology Research Programme, which subsequently grew into the Cardiovascular Pathophysiology and Genomics Research Unit in 2001. An off-site satellite research group, the Cardiovascular Pathophysiology Research Unit, was set up in 2018.

He was described as “a true clinician scientist” by colleagues and made an immense contribution to the understanding of cardiovascular pathophysiology, hypertension and heart failure. Prof Norton received a South African Medical Research Council Gold Medal for excellence in research and was one of the 30 inaugural honorary fellows appointed in 2021 by the International Union of Physiological Sciences for “exceptional contributions to physiological sciences” in the form of significant original discovery and sustained excellent contribution to scholarship.

He was a formidable researcher and had a great passion for the teaching and training of students. He had a knack for explaining complex physiological concepts in simple but accurate terms and was awarded the Phillip V Tobias accolade as a distinguished teacher. His fatherlike approach to postgraduate training made him a well-loved supervisor and mentor among all his more than 50 research master’s and PhD students. His graduates are in prominent academic and industrial positions and bear testament to the quality of education he delivered.

His family said he “was a real beach bum who enjoyed swimming and surfing”. He also loved movies and had an impressive collection of DVDs of his favourite actors. Few knew he was an avid painter and sculptor and a fervent visitor to museums. His many travels across the globe made him a fountain of world knowledge and a fascinating storyteller.

Sources: School of Physiology: Prof William Daniels, Prof Angela Woodiwiss and Dr Vernice Peterson

Michael Javett (1936-2022)

Philanthropist and attorney Michael Javett (BCom 1957, LLB 1959) died on 17 November 2022 at the age of 86 at his home in Johannesburg.

After completing his law and business studies at Wits he practised as an attorney at Webber Wentzel, moving to London to join the international law firm Allen & Overy and subsequently pursued a career as a merchant banker at Hill Samuel. He returned to South Africa and established the Unisec Group that was later sold to Standard Bank. He also established Tolux SA, which has since become Brait. From 2006 he focused on philanthropy and was instrumental in establishing the Javett Foundation in 2013. The impetus behind its establishment traces back to the philanthropic activities of his parents Samuel (MBBCh 1926, MMed 1940) and Rebecca ‘Chix’. Chix was central to shaping the family’s early philanthropic activities, instilling a commitment to social change and development. Javett went on to collaborate with the University of Pretoria to form the Javett Art Centre in 2019.

He passed away a few days before the launch of Mihloti ya Ntsako (Tears of Joy) - Journeys with the Bongi Dhlomo Collection (2022), and art project which chronicled a compendium of 138 artworks produced in the 20th century by both well-known and lesser-known South African artists. He advocated for greater access of artistic education for youth from diverse backgrounds.

Javett was also a great horse racing fan. He purchased “Politician” for R5 250, and the pedigree went on to win 18 races, notably the J&B Met and Queen’s Plate, as well as the 1978 Rothmans July Handicap. Politician retired to stud having been named South Africa’s Horse Of The Year on three occasions.

His Wits-trained brother Stanley (MBBCh 1956) died in 2000 at the age of 67.

Sources: University of Pretoria, Javett Foundation and Wits archives

Ronald Jaffe (1943-2022)

Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh and former Chief of Pathology, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Ronald Jaffe (BSc 1966, MBBCh 1969) passed away on 23 November 2022.

After graduating from Wits, he completed residencies in pathology at Sheba Medical Center in Israel and Children’s Hospital in Boston and a fellowship at the Mallory Institute of Pathology, settling in Pittsburgh in the US in 1977.

Professor Jaffe was an internationally recognised expert in paediatric pathology and histiocytic disorders, served as the editor-in-chief of “Pediatric and Developmental Pathology” and was president of the Society of Pediatric Professionals in 2001.  He was described by colleagues as a critical thinker with an exceptionally gifted “eye”.

He is survived by his wife Sandra, son and grandchildren.

Sources: Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Society of Pediatric Pathology

Marcus Holmes (1952-2022)

Marcus Holmes (BArch 1977) principal partner of the architectural practice, Fassler Kamstra + Holmes Architects passed away on 9 November 2022 in Linksfield Hospital after a short illness.

Holmes was born in Oxford, England but came to South Africa with his parents in the 1950s. He was educated at St Andrew’s School in Grahamstown where he obtained a First Class Matric in 1969. He originally thought he would study engineering but pursued a career in architecture instead.

Holmes will be best remembered for his work within the realm of conservation architecture where he brought together a range of skills; deep knowledge of the making of buildings, a passion for the building heritage of Johannesburg and fastidious attention to detail.

Shortly after graduating, he joined the practice of Mira Fassler Kamstra to create the firm of Fassler Kamstra & Holmes. This was changed after Mira left the practice to Fassler Kamstra + Holmes.Marcus Holmes

The partnership undertook restoration work on heritage homes and major public and commercial buildings. The practice list of projects is lengthy and included the following conservation architecture projects: Blackroofs, Dolobran, the Customs House, the Rissik Street Post Office, The Pines, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg City Hall, Johannesburg Library, Casa Bedo, Case Dobe, Prynnsberg Manor, Darjeeling House, Piccadilly Mansions, Oxford Manor, Chancellor House, Ravenscraig, Lauriston Court among others. Sadly, many were not completed.

Holmes counted the conversion of the Johannesburg City Hall into the Gauteng Legislature (1994), a vast project completed with Mira in record time as one of his proudest achievements. His exploration of the complexities of the project which arose from the drawings of John Fassler from the 1960s resulted in the commission to convert the mothballed building into A-Grade office space for the Gauteng Legislature.

Holmes was immensely knowledgeable about Herbert Baker and in his approach to restoration. As the authority on the works of Herbert Baker and with Mira Fassler Kamstra, they worked on the restoration of the following Johannesburg Baker homes – Blackroof, Kleine Schuur, Northwards, the rectory of St George’s Church in Parktown, St Margaret’s, Villa Arcadia, Bishopskop, Stone house, Dysart House, Glenshiel and the Pallinghurst Stables.

Holmes said he was happiest while physically involved in construction, taking on the role of “the master builder – architect” which he saw as most necessary for the making of fine building. He said that most architects were excluded from that opportunity. His approach to heritage restoration was often to adopt a seamless transition between old and new and to make the new retain a faithful respect of the original; not for him the distinctive juxtaposing of the modern contrasting additions. Holmes had been working on his own major project in Forrest Town, as he had bought House Cohen designed by Pancho Guedes on New Forrest Road. He admired Pancho as a master architect and worked hard to strip back the house back to the original design, with a view to respectful reconstruction.

Holmes contributed much to the profession. In his early days was a member of the Transvaal Institute of Architects Education Action Group and the TIA Heritage Committee. He was a Trustee of the Friends of the Johannesburg Art Gallery from 1989 to 2013. Most recently he was part of the initial committee formed to shape the Herbert Prins Colosseum Award in its re-launch as a Gauteng Institute of Architects Award.

Holmes was extremely knowledgeable in Professional Practice and Contract Law and a member of the Association of Arbitrators. He was happy to give advice and share experience with his colleagues and younger practitioners.

He was extremely talented, had an incredibly agile and creative mind and was a master of conceptualising unusual possibilities in heritage projects. His capacity for work was prodigious. He was involved at one time in a furniture business and recently had designed and was manufacturing a lighting range. He had a quick wit and was a raconteur of note, recounting stories and anecdotes drawn from his projects and practice. He will be missed in our profession.

Holmes is survived by his original partner Mira Fassler Kamstra, and their shared family; Boris (MBA 2001), Gregor, and Donia - Mira’s children who he loved dearly and whom he considered as his own, his brother Nicholas and sister Jessica, who live in England.

A memorial event will be held at the Johannesburg Country Club in late January 2023.

Sources: Mira Fassler Kamstra (BArch 1961), Kathy Munro (BA 1967), Heather Dodd (BArch 1992)

Kenneth Bloom (1943-2022)

Dr Kenneth Roland Bloom (MBBCh 1965) aged 79, died on 3 November 2022, at home in San Antonio, Texas, surrounded by his family.

Dr Bloom was born in South Africa on 12 July 1943, to Grace Widman and Cecil Bloom. He attended the King Edward School and obtained his medical degree at Wits. He married Dr Sheila Swartzman (MBBCh 1966) on 4 December 1966. In 1972, they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio for a fellowship in paediatric cardiology. In 1974, the family relocated to Canada where he joined the faculty of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.Kenneth Bloom 

In 1979, the family immigrated a final time to San Antonio, Texas, where Dr Bloom became chief, paediatric cardiology and director of the Non-Invasive Laboratories at the Brooke Army Medical Center. In 1982, he was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal by Executive Order for his service. From there he opened his private practice, Paediatric Cardiology Associates, where he worked for four decades, helping hundreds of children, and often their children, in San Antonio and throughout Texas. He retired from medicine in 2013, exiting his practice with a can of Diet Dr Pepper in place of a gold watch.

Throughout his life in San Antonio, he and his wife were enthusiastic advocates for the city's vibrant classical music community. They actively supported the Chamber Music Society, of which Dr Bloom served as president, the San Antonio Philharmonic, the Youth Orchestra, the Houston Grand Opera, and just about every local classical music group they could. This brought endless joy to him.

Dr Bloom is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sheila, their children Dianne Bloom and Robert Bloom, and his wife Rachel Griffiths, grandsons Dominick and Heath, his older brother Martin Bloom and his wife Nadia, as well as numerous extended family members and lifelong friends across the globe. And last of all his dog Molly, with whom he took five-mile walks every day.

Source: San Antonio Express-News

Tribute from Roger McCarter (BSc 1962, BSc Hons 1963, MSc 1965) Professor Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University:

One can tell a good deal about an individual because of weekly encounters on a squash court, especially when played over a period of almost 20 years! Skill, fairness, consideration, fierce determination to win and overriding all, the joy of simply playing the game, were all hallmarks of Kenneth Bloom. It was my good fortune to share such experiences with this wonderful individual shortly after his arrival in San Antonio, Texas in the 1980s.

As fellow transplanted Witsies (he at medical school and I in the sciences) we also shared a love of music and childhood experiences growing up in Johannesburg. Thankfully, our families also enjoyed interacting on many social occasions: discussions of current events with Kenneth and wife Sheila Swartsman were yet another delight: always lively, stimulating and so worthwhile! Kenneth’s excellence on the squash court was only one manifestation of his approach to life in general: considerate of others, knowledgeable and always informed. Friends in San Antonio would often approach my family with requests to intercede in securing medical appointments with Dr Bloom, since his renown in the community as a superb clinician resulted in backlogs of appointments.

After years of exhilarating contests on the squash court, stimulating discussions of life, government and how fortunate we all had been, I left San Antonio for an opportunity in Pennsylvania. News of Kenneth’s death was a dreadful reminder of the inexorable passage of time, but I count my years of being with Kenneth and his family as a priceless gift - an experience never to be forgotten of an individual who made a significant contribution to improving the lives of others.

Joy Maureen Isdale (1928-2022)

Professor Joy Isdale (MBBCh 1950, MMed 1968) died on 3 November 2022 in Toronto, Canada, after a long illness. Professor Isdale was born in Johannesburg, matriculated from Johannesburg High School for Girls in 1945 and qualified as a doctor in 1950. During her third year (over a dissecting table) she met Leo, “Len” Stein (BSc 1940, MBBCh 1944), whom she married. The couple spent two years in London and Edinburgh, where Stein qualified as a surgeon. When they returned to Johannesburg, Professor Isdale completed her internship at the Johannesburg General Hospital and worked as a casualty officer while raising her family.

In 1965 she specialised in diagnostic radiology and worked first as a clinical assistant and then as registrar in the x-ray department at the Johannesburg General Hospital. In 1970 she was appointed as principal radiologist at the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children. She was soon appointed head of paediatric radiology, becoming the only paediatric radiologist in the Transvaal. In 1988, she was appointed acting clinical head in the radiology department at Johannesburg Hospital.

During her stewardship she transformed the department into a leading clinical, teaching and research entity and was held in the highest regard by paediatricians, both within the hospital and throughout South Africa. She is remembered as an enthusiastic and excellent teacher. She also had exceptional administrative abilities, running the x-ray department with authoritativeness, competence and kindness. She retired at the end of 1989 and emigrated to Israel. After Dr Stein’s passing, in 2002, she settled in Canada and reinvented herself as a bridge teacher and lawn bowls player, enjoying numerous other activities including theatre and travel.

She is survived by her three children Gwen Janit, Dr Brenda Stein-Coleman (BSc 1972, BSc Hons 1973, MBBCh 1976) and Mark Stein (BSc 1975, MBBCh 1978), six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Source: Dr Brenda Stein-Coleman

Geoffrey Hughes (1939-2022)

Internationally renowned expert on the history of the English language, Professor Geoffrey Hughes, died on 30 October 2022. He started teaching in the English Department at Wits in the early 1960s and remained for the duration his academic career.

Born on 20 April 1939 in Dar-es-Salam, where his father worked as an engineer, Professor Hughes was schooled in Kenya and England. During his school years he was a keen rower and rugby player and was also selected for the Kenyan national cricket team. After his schooling, he gained a place at the University of Oxford, where he completed a master’s degree in English. It was here that he developed a passion for Anglo-Saxon literature, Chaucer and also Shakespeare, whose plays he went on to study in great detail, eventually being able to cite just about every line from every play.Professor Geoffrey Hughes

One of his lecturers at Oxford was the author JRR Tolkien whose discourses on Middle English inspired his keen interest in the semantic origins of English. It was in Oxford, too, that he was exposed to classical music and art, two lifelong interests. After Oxford he travelled to Israel, Jordan, Syria and Iran to explore their ancient ruins.

Professor Hughes’s academic career began in the 1960s in the English department at the University of Cape Town where he lectured for two years – and much later returned as honorary research associate – before he moved to Wits where he was later promoted to Emeritus Professor of the History of the English Language. Barry Ronge (BA 1968, BA Hons 1969) and Helen Zille (BA 1974, PDipEd 1974) were just some of the South African luminaries whom he taught. While at Wits he completed a doctorate at the University of South Africa on the semantic history of the English language.

In the 1970s, Professor Hughes was an Honorary Research Associate at Harvard University, and in the following decade he began writing his “Watchword” column on the history of words for the Star newspaper, something he continued doing for 30 years until a few months before his death. A prolific author, he wrote five books that were published by world-leading publishers including Blackwell and Penguin.

Professor Hughes had two children – Alexander and Catherine – with his first wife Ursula. The couple later divorced and Ursula emigrated to Canada with their children. His second wife, the Rhodes scholar Dr Jean Marquard, with whom he had a son Conrad (PhD 2008), died of cancer at the age of 42. He married Patricia (Tish) Summers in the 1980s. It was Tish who introduced him to opera, in particular the works of Wagner, and who also shared her love of Afrikaans literature and culture with him. After a series of research fellowships in Europe, the couple retired to the South of France and eventually returned to South Africa where they settled in a retirement complex in Noordhoek. Early in 2022 Professor Hughes was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

After his death, Conrad spoke not only of his father’s academic brilliance, but his sensitive nature and amazing sense of humour. Tish recalled Professor Hughes’s loyalty and passion, and described her beloved husband of 38 years as “the ideal partner”.

He is survived by his wife, son and grandchildren Héloїse and Melchior.

Source: Lisa Jackson

Michael Austin (1937-2022)

Michael Austin, the Roman Catholic chaplain at Wits during the 1970s, whom many alumni may remember with fondness, died in Johannesburg on 25 October 2022. He was 85.  

He was born in Port Elizabeth and educated at the Jesuit college of St Aidan’s in Grahamstown, now Makhanda, in the Eastern Cape.Father Michael Austin After a brief spell in the commercial world, he decided that his calling was in the church and he made the decision to become a Jesuit priest. He travelled to England in 1959 to commence his studies and was to be a peripatetic visitor over much of the next decade. He studied philosophy at Heythrop College in Oxfordshire, and on completion, in 1961, he returned to South Africa where he completed his BA at Rhodes University, majoring in history which was to become a particular interest throughout his life. He then served as a Jesuit Regent at St Aidan’s where he taught Latin, ran the choir and served as commodore of the sailing club. Three years later he returned to England to read theology. He was ordained to the priesthood, in London, in July 1970 and was to serve the Society of Jesus for 63 years. Always the academic his appointment as chaplain to Wits was itself almost pre-ordained and, in preparation for this, he spent two years as an assistant chaplain at the University of London.

In 1973 he established the Catholic chaplaincy at Wits University from his base at the Holy Trinity church, in Braamfontein, just adjacent to the university campus.  During his first four years at Wits, Father Austin established an excellent rapport with the students who appreciated his academic rigour while being challenged, perhaps in equal measure, on matters both doctrinal and perhaps somewhat less ecclesiastically, on their affinity for the grape or, more generally given their youth, the hops!

It was during those years that students became particularly engaged in their opposition to the apartheid policies of the South African government and Father Austin “provided them with much moral support”. He obtained the STB, a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, while also assisting in parish duties. In 1977 he went to Regis College, affiliated to the University of Toronto, where he read for the STL, the Licentiate in Sacred Theology. On his return to Johannesburg, he held dual responsibility of parish priest at Holy Trinity in addition to being the university. After leaving his position at Wits he took on further parish duties in Rivonia and served as chaplain at St David’s (Marist) College, Inanda.

Father Austin was a forthright man and was never shy of sharing his opinions.  His intolerance of foolishness, and especially its perpetrators, was well known. He became a prolific writer of letters to newspapers and many an editor found himself on the receiving end of a frank but always astutely framed argument or proposition. He never fought shy of delivering the occasional polemic. Intriguing as it seemed to some, given the political climate of those times, he also became a regular broadcaster on the SABC which was not known for much affinity towards Catholicism. In his occasional “Thought for the Day” Father Austin came to the attention of Nelson Mandela who, so it is said, took much comfort from those brief interludes of thoughtful and pious sanctity on the radio.

His abiding interest – almost a passion – was the theological underpinning of the church and this led to his directorship of the Diocesan Institute for Theology which he ran for 22 years. Those who attended his many courses and lectures were united in their praise of the academic rigour behind everything he taught. Coupled with this was his writing of numerous articles on related subjects as well as others that dealt with the history of the church.

He was also a connoisseur of fine food and wine and cultivated friendships with many people who served him at their well-appointed tables. He also took much pride in the fact that he saw himself as the Austin family historian. He uncovered the family’s rich church ministry that went back a century and more but his fellow ministers were all Anglican clergymen, among whom was the first bishop of Guiana (now Guyana) in the West Indies. Father Austin was the first such man of the cloth who was affiliated to Rome.

He loved, tolerated and encouraged his family in equal measure. To his niece, nephews and various other relatives he was known simply as Uncle Father Michael. To his students at Wits he was always Father Austin.

Source: Dr Brian Austin (BSc Eng 1970, MSc Eng 1977, PhD 1986)

Brian Sherman (1943-2022)

Philanthropist, animal activist, art collector and entrepreneur Brian Sherman (BCom 1966) died at the age of 79 on 11 September 2022 after a protracted battle with Parkinson’s disease.

He was born in Brakpan into a close-knit community of immigrants from Lithuania. According to the University’s archives he matriculated from Princeton College in 1962. At Wits he met his wife Gene, née Tannenbaum (BA 1969, BA Hons 1970), and had two children: Emile and Ondine.

The couple left South Africa in 1976 with their young children. Initially Sherman found work as a stockbroking analyst in the finance industry but he went on to create EquitiLink, a fund management business, from scratch with Gene’s cousin Laurence Freedman in 1981 around his kitchen table. The company attracted money from United States and Canadian investors and grew into one of Australia’s largest independent fund management groups.

In 2000, EquitiLink was sold to Aberdeen Asset Management with $5.5 billion under management. Sherman continued as chairman and joint managing director of the EquitiLink Group from 1981 to 2000, as well as director and chairman of ASX-listed Aberdeen Leaders Limited and several investment companies listed on the American and Canadian stock exchanges. He was part of a consortium that bought Ten from Westpac in 1992 and was a director from 1994 to 2007.  

Sherman was on the board of the Sydney Organising Committee for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and chairman of its finance committee. After selling EquitiLink he became a prominent philanthropist, focused on the arts, medical science and the Jewish community. In 2004, he established Voiceless, an animal rights advocacy organisation, with his daughter Ondine.

He shared his wife’s passion for art; together they became avid collectors for more than three decades. In December 2020 he was made governor emeritus of the Australian Museum, and in 2022 the Australian Museum Research Institute gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his service as a philanthropist.

He served as president of the Australian Museum Trust from 2001 to 2009, was a director of the Australia-Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, and chaired the Rambam Israel Fellowships programme.

He was awarded the Order of Australia in 2004, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, an honorary doctorate from the University of Technology, Sydney, and in 2014 the B’nai B’rith Gold Medal, along with his wife, for outstanding humanitarianism.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010. He published The Lives of Brian Sherman: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Animal Activist (ReadHowYouWant, 2019) and Walking Through Honey: My Journey with Parkinson’s Disease (Booktopia, 2022). It provided a patient-centric insight into more experimental approaches to treating the disease and advocated use of the arts, including music, art and movement, for therapy.

He is survived by his wife Gene, film and television producer son Emile, daughter Ondine and six grandchildren.

Sources: Wits archive, ArtsHub, The Guardian,

Timothy Egan (1962-2022)

Professor Timothy Egan (BSc 1983, BSc Hons 1984, PhD 1988) died on 1 May 2022.

He enjoyed a distinguished academic career at the University of Cape Town, rising to the rank of professor and chair in inorganic chemistry. He was highly respected for his work on the Faculty of Science physical planning committee and was the main architect of the major renovation and modernisation of the Department of Chemistry. He held many portfolios in the department in which his excellent common sense, strategic vision and attention to detail made a significant difference.

He was an excellent teacher and was recognised with the university’s Distinguished Teachers Award. He was an outstanding researcher, with his national and international standing as a leader in his field widely acknowledged. He was, inter alia, a Fellow of UCT and of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI), a recipient of the SACI Gold Medal, and a fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He was posthumously awarded his first A-rating from the National Research Council in 2022.

He had over the years at UCT established and maintained a research group devoted to the broader cause of combatting the scourge of malaria, and more specifically to improving the understanding of hemozoin formation in malarial parasites, and confirming the fact that hemozoin remains a very important target of anti-Jmalarial drug design.

He was acknowledged as a principled, compassionate man as well as a clear thinker with a meticulously rational approach to everything he did – including his teaching, research and his service and leadership roles in the university and the broader community of chemists in South Africa.

He will also be remembered as a loyal and gentle friend, someone who always had time to sit and talk and listen to colleagues, work associates, students or anyone, whether it was to simply talk about interesting ideas or to deal with a grievance or to impart advice or wisdom.

Professor Egan is survived by his wife, Joanne.

Sources: UCT, NRF

Graeme Hart (1937-2022)

Dr Graeme Hart (MA 1966, PhD 1975) was born in Pietermaritzburg and spent his early years in Howick.  He matriculated from Hilton College in 1954 and was an assistant teacher at Treverton College before attending Rhodes University to obtain a BA in 1959 and a first-class honours degree in geography in 1960.  After a temporary lectureship at Natal University (now University of KwaZulu-Natal) he was appointed as a junior lecturer at Wits in 1961.Dr Graeme Hart

While at Wits he completed a master’s on “An Historical Geography of Port Natal” in 1965 and was awarded a PhD on “Johannesburg Residential Development and the Housing Market in Johannesburg” in 1975.  He subsequently became a senior lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science till his retirement in 1997.  Although Dr Hart taught synoptic meteorology and air pollution climatology to postgraduate town and regional planning students, his main interest was in economic geography and his speciality was in the urban residential housing market. He’d been at Wits for 36 years when he retired at 60.

In 1962/3 Dr Hart was chosen to be an Abe Bailey Fellow and toured the United Kingdom.  He published in several academic journals, contributed to seven books and was a visiting professor in California and Wisconsin. He attended conferences locally and internationally (North America, the United Kingdom and Europe) and acted at various times as editor of the South African Geographical Journal.  For many years he wrote a weekly article for The Star on the demographics of various Johannesburg suburbs. He was a consultant in several weather-related court cases and also consulted to firms of geotechnical engineers.  He hosted many geographical excursions for undergraduates which were very popular.

Many students at Wits remember him as chief invigilator for their examinations – his last few years being chief invigilator in Hall 29.  This led to him being a supervisor for many international examinations, for example, the SAT.

In 1965 Dr Hart was appointed assistant dean of Dalrymple House, a men’s residence on the Wits Campus where he lived for five years.  In the mid-70s, together with John Earle, Tim Hart and Cathy Caselli, he joined the SABC’s pioneer weather team and was the first person to do a weather forecast on SABCs inaugural service in 1976.  He remained a weather presenter for 27 years and always dressed impeccably in suit and tie.  After he retired he was sought after as a speaker for public lectures about the weather.

Dr Hart was a keen hockey player - he played for the first team at Hilton, toured Zimbabwe with a Hilton/Michaelhouse side, was in the first team at Rhodes and played for Eastern Province.  He went on a SA Universities tour to the UK and Europe in 1958 and captained the SA Universities tour to Kenya in 1960.  While a junior lecturer he played hockey for Wits and enjoyed social tennis for many years.  Dr Hart loved hiking and in later years slackpacking.  He loved the bush and had many visits to the Kruger National Park, and game reserves in the Waterberg, Botswana and Namibia.

Dr Hart suffered from dementia in his last few years and died on 14 March 2022.  He is survived by his wife Margaret, nee Richardson, (DipNursEd 1972, DipNursAdm 1981, MScNurs 1995) children Andrew, Richard and Diana and seven grandchildren.

Source: Margaret Hart 

Christopher Davis (1948-2022)

Australian Water Association’s first full time chief executive officer, Dr Christopher Davis (BSc Eng 1971), passed away on 10 February 2022, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

Davis grew up in South Africa, and completed his degree in civil engineering at Wits. He went on to complete his master’s at the University of Texas and was awarded the Hatfield Award for Professionalism from the Water Environment Federation, an international award based in the United States that recognised wastewater treatment plant operators for their outstanding performance. 

Working for engineering company GHD in South Africa, one of the leading countries at the time in the technology of removing nutrients from wastewater, Davis’s skillset was highly sought after in Australia. He emigrated to Sydney in 1984 to work at a treatment plant to help Australia adopt the new technology. He then joined Aquatec Maxcon, expanding his experience in water and wastewater technology and equipment.Dr Chris Davis

Davis joined the then-named Australian Water and Wastewater Association (AWWA) as a member of the NSW Branch and standing out for his leadership skills, quickly rose through the association. He was appointed AWWA’s first full-time chief executive in 1992, and devoted his efforts to transform and energise the association. This included his overseeing the renaming and rebranding of the organisation to Australian Water Association (AWA) in 1999.

He championed a sustainable approach, and set out an independent path as a spokesperson and advisor, meeting and consulting with politicians and policy makers, as well as with corporate members in need of a balanced industry voice. He documented much of the history of the association in the “50 years of water in Australia: 1962 to 2012” publication, an extensively researched history of water during AWA’s first 50 years. 

Davis ended his term as chief executive officer in 2007 after 14 years. He received a Life Membership Award from the Association in 2008, an Exceptional Service Award from the Association in 2016, and continued to volunteer for the Association as Technical Editor of the Water Journal until 2019. He also served on numerous boards and advisory panels and constantly advocated for sustainable water management.

Davis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004, and decided to take his leadership and advocacy experience into working with Parkinson’s NSW. He served as president of Parkinson’s NSW form 2010 to 2014, and played an active role in promoting and supporting Parkinson’s understanding and research. In his farewell note as President of Parkinson’s NSW, he said: “I subscribe to the position that, while I have Parkinson’s disease, it does not have me.”

He is remembered fondly by a significant amount of people in water, professional associations, and people involved in Parkinson’s advocacy. Most of all, he is remembered with love by his partner Pam, their children and grandchildren. 

In January 2023 he was was posthumously appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his “significant service to water management” in Australia.

Source: Australian Water Association





In Memoriam 2022

Paolo Trinchero (1969-2022)

CEO of the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) Paolo Trinchero (BSc Eng 1990, MSc Eng 1993) passed away on 21 August 2022 at the age of 53 following a battle with cancer.

He was involved in the steel industry in South Africa for about 30 years. His career started as a Dorbyl structural engineering bursary student and he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in 1990, followed by his master’s degree in 1993 under the supervision of Professor Alan Kemp, who introduced him to the workings of the SAISC through the Steel Design Code Committee.

To gain commercial experience, he then joined Macsteel Trading as an engineering manager in 2003, starting its cellular beam division, and ultimately became group business development and technical director at Macsteel Corporate Services. Throughout his 11 years at Macsteel, Trinchero never lost touch with the SAISC and in 2013 he returned to the institute as its CEO.

He was passionate about anything related to steel and a “tireless, selfless and dedicated champion” of the sector at public and private levels. The institute in South Africa is one of only six around the world. He understood that the strength of the industry – and the institute – lay in technical competence and a sense of community.

In a 2013 interview he said his philosophy in life was to “persevere and never give up”. He enjoyed DIY, hiking and spending time with his family.

He leaves his wife Lora their three children Giulio, Angelo and Sabrina.

Source: SAISC

Mabel “Vytjie” Mentor (1963-2022)

Former ANC MP Mabel “Vytjie” Mentor (PDM 2009) died on 23 August 2022 at the age of 58.

She was elected to parliament in 2002 and became the ANC’s parliamentary caucus chairperson. She later served as chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises. In 2019 she resigned as an ANC MP and joined the African Christian Democratic Party. The following year she joined ActionSA.

Mentor was born on 19 October 1963, in Kimberley, Northern Cape. Her mother was a school teacher, and her father was the first black African police station commander serving in Welkom. Mentor attended Batlhaping High School, in Taung, between 1977 and 1981. 

After completing matric at Batlhaping High School, Mentor attended Hebron Theological College, where she trained as a teacher.  She acquired further qualifications from East Rand College and the University of South Africa.

In 2016 she made public that in October 2010 she was offered the role of minister of public enterprises by the Guptas if she helped influence South African Airways’ cancellation of its India route. She declined, detailing the incident on Facebook and gave evidence to the Zondo Commission in 2018. She was later cross-examined after some parts of her testimony were found to be inconsistent. Former chairperson of the State Capture Commission, Raymond Zondo said that there were too many "unsatisfactory features" in Mentor's evidence and that the meeting at the Gupta's residence, in which she alleged that a member of the Gupta family offered her the position of minister of public enterprises, did not happen.

On 12 June 2022, Mentor resigned as ActionSA’s provincial chairperson because of ill health, which she said was caused by her weight loss journey and bariatric surgery.

Sources: Daily Maverick, Wikipedia

John Kane-Berman (1946-2022)

The former CEO of the Institute of Race Relations, John Kane-Berman (BA 1968), died after a short illness on 27 July 2022 at the age of 76.

Kane-Berman, the eldest of five brothers, was born in Johannesburg in 1946 and grew up in what he described as a “happy, comfortable, and politically conscious family”. His father, Louis, was chairman of the Torch Commando, the group of World War II veterans who rallied to the cause of disenfranchised coloured South Africans in the Cape in the early 1950s.John Kane-Berman

He received a first-class matric at St John’s College in 1962, which was followed by a year in Sixth Form. He was heavily involved in the literary, historical, and political affairs at the school and was a Geoffrey Cherrington Bursary winner and the co-editor of The Johannian, to which he contributed many poems, articles and stories. He was also the secretary of the SJC Literary Society and chairman of the history society. He was the treasurer of the St John’s African Education Fund.

His education continued at Wits, and in his first year he became part of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and later became its president in 1968. At Wits, Kane-Berman led campaigns against social segregation and government interference in higher education. In 1967 when Rhodes University refused to allow delegates to a National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) conference to eat together, he supported Steve Biko’s decision to break from NUSAS and launch the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO). Kane-Berman reflected decades later that the ensuing rise of Black Consciousness had been “a healthy and necessary development”.

From Wits he went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and shortly after his return to South Africa he met Pierre Roestorf, with whom he entered a civil union performed by Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron.  

In 1973 he joined the staff of the Financial Mail. He was able use his position powerfully to expose the absurdities of apartheid. He wrote of his time there in 2018: “My time at the FM in the 1970s gave me the chance to chronicle the National Party’s attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable – economic necessity and political ideology. The NP was simultaneously trying both to loosen and to strengthen apartheid policies. It was also trying to shift the basis of discrimination from race to nationality. We were relentless in exposing each twist and turn of this saga, both the absurdity and the inhumanity.” It was while at the Financial Mail that he wrote his famous book on the Soweto uprising of 1976, Soweto: Black Revolt, White Reaction (Ravan Press, 1978).

He moved to freelance journalism and in 1983 become CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations. He used the organisation to plant ideas for a more just South Africa, delivering numerous public speeches, reports, newspaper articles and books. South Africa’s Silent Revolution (Southern Book Publishers, 1990) detailed how the resistance of ordinary people had become the most important and influential factor in defeating apartheid. In his 2017 memoir, Between Two Fires – Holding the Liberal Centre in South African Politics (Jonathan Ball, 2017) he wrote: “I myself never had any weapons, other than words.” The work continued after 1994. By the time he retired as CEO in 2014, the institute was one of the most influential sources of liberal ideas in the South African public domain.

He was the recipient of the St John’s Golden Eagle Award for tirelessly promoting constitutionalism and economic liberalism.

At his funeral, a friend and former colleague Paul Pereira described Kane-Berman’s primary impulse as “a love of and respect for humanity” and said “he wouldn’t see history as inevitable, political realities as immovable, crass social engineering as acceptable, nor honesty and principles as negotiable”. 

Kane-Berman is survived by his partner, Pierre Roestorf, and extended family.

Sources: Wits archive, Institute of Race Relations and Business Day.

Noel Garson (1931-2022)

Former Dean in the Faculty of Arts and professor of history, Professor Noel George Garson (BA 1952, BA Hons 1953, MA 1955), passed away peacefully at his home in Johannesburg on 15 July 2022 at the age of 90.

Professor Garson was born in Johannesburg in 1931 and his association with Wits extended more than 50 years, during which time he served as a leading academic and scholar. He obtained a first-class Bachelor of Arts degree and was awarded the Herbert Ainsworth Scholarship in modern history, and in 1955 obtained a master’s with distinction. His dissertation on “The Swaziland Question and a Road to the Sea (1887-1895)” was published in the Archives Year Book of South African History (Part II, 1957). In 1957 he obtained another first-class degree at the Sidney Sussex College at the University of Cambridge. He returned to Wits, where he taught economic history before taking up a lectureship in the history department in 1958.

He was appointed as a senior lecturer in 1964, and then as professor and head of the Department of History in 1967, at the age of 36. He remained in the department for 30 years until his retirement in 1996, except for two terms, during which he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

A thought-provoking and inspiring history teacher, Professor Garson was known for his empathic and fair approach to his colleagues and students. He helped many navigate their professional and personal challenges. Colleagues and family members have described him as “judicious, caring and compassionate”, “straight in all his dealings and a stranger to malice”, “maintaining the highest of standards in dealings with all matters and relationships”.

As a historian, his interests included the English Reformation, the philosophy of history, and South African political history, in particular the complicated era of Jan Smuts. Professor Garson was instrumental in expanding the history syllabus to the study of the liberation struggle in South Africa and on the African continent. He was able to accommodate competing vantage points in the department with flexibility and diplomacy.

Professor Garson’s expertise extended beyond Wits. He was an active University member of the Joint Matriculation Board and the Independent Examinations Board. He chaired the Parktown High School for Girls, worked with the Human Sciences Research Council, and did much to preserve South Africa’s historical records. He published widely in historical journals and other publications.

Throughout his life he remained intellectually curious, an ardent sports enthusiast and nature lover. He leaves behind his remarkable family of Witsies: his wife, Yvonne, who was a librarian at the William Cullen library; his four daughters, Lisa (BSc 1988, BSc Hons 1990), Catherine (PDip Ed 1981, BA Hons 2009), Fiona (BArch 1988) and Philippa (BA 1986, BA Hons 1989), his sons-in-law, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. See WITSReview October 2014. 

Sources: Wits University and archives

Ian McKay (1963-2022)

Dr Ian McKay (BSc 1984, BSc Hons 1985, PhD 1990, HDip Ed 1996) died on 13 July 2022 following a sudden heart attack. He was the education and outreach specialist for the Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences and the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits.

A geologist’s son, McKay developed an early love of life sciences. While studying at Wits he was fascinated by the remarkably good preservation of fossil insects from the Orapa Crater Lake deposits, and it became a lifelong passion to discover more about this ancient insect fauna. He completed his doctorate in 1990, on carabid beetles and the palaeoenvironment of the Orapa deposit, and subsequently worked for the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, undertaking research on ticks and discovering two new species.

He realised that he had a calling for science communication and education, so he successfully enrolled for a higher diploma in education at Wits. This led to an appointment as a science/environmental education specialist for the RADMASTE Centre associated with Wits. He led a programme in environmental education, writing science curriculum support materials, presenting courses on environmental education, and working on various special projects, one of which was to develop a low-cost kit for water quality testing.

Between 2001 and 2014 McKay managed geoscience and palaeoscience outreach in the School for Geoscience at Wits. Here he was tasked to raise sufficient funding to undertake the work and to support his salary. Accordingly, he set up the company ITM Development Education Services with the mission to facilitate development through out-of-the-box thinking, fundraising, conscientious project management, and the communication of technical information in plain language using entertaining and interactive techniques. He also enrolled for an MBA at Wits to sharpen his business skills.

In 2014 he was appointed education and outreach officer by the newly established DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences. He performed many functions, including school curriculum analysis and liaison with the Education Department and the DST (now DSI) for evolution and palaeontology to be introduced into the national South African school curriculum for Grades 10–12. To introduce this new topic, McKay was responsible for delivering workshops on evolution and palaeontology for subject advisors from eight of the nine South African provinces. He also designed educational programmes and museum exhibits, created hands-on biology and geoscience courses, trained student guides to present tours and designed holiday science programmes. This involved the production of resource materials for teachers and learners, which were distributed to schools, as well as fundraising to produce palaeontological exhibits.

For several years he organised and ran National Science Week for Wits. This included fundraising, coordinating science communication, marketing and communication with the press, and coordinating various activities. Every year he participated in various science-related exhibitions such as Day of the Dinosaur Exhibition (Sandton Convention Centre); Yebo Gogga (at Wits); National Science Week (Sci-Bono Science Centre); Engineering Week (Sci-Bono Science Centre); Earth Sciences Week (Sci-Bono Science Centre); and Sustainable Energy Week (Sci-Bono Science Centre).

He won several awards for his innovative exhibitions, which were engaging and fun. In addition to his engagement with learners and teachers at a national level, he was also an active member of the International Geoscience Educators Organisation (IGEO), and oversaw the GeoSciEd conferences every four years, and the annual International Earth Sciences Olympiad. He served as the principal South African councillor for IGEO.

He was a founding member of the South African Geoscience Educators Association, responsible for organising and hosting the GeoSciEd VI conference at Wits in 2010.

McKay was making plans to have the first-ever South African team enter the International Earth Sciences Olympiad. His fellow geoscience educators will never forget his passion, enthusiasm and dedication to geoscience education and outreach and his wonderful sense of humour.

He was a devoted father who is survived by his wife Tracey and his daughters Gwen and Erin, and stepdaughter Joy.

Source: Genus Africa and Wits

Barry Ronge (1947-2022)

South African film and arts critic and writer Barry Ronge (BA 1968, BA Hons 1969) died at the age of 74 in Johannesburg on 3 July 2022.

Ronge was born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg and grew up on the West Rand where he attended Florida Park High School. He began a teaching career at St John’s College after graduating from Wits and this was followed by a 10-year stint as a lecturer in literature at the University.

Ronge contributed to commentary on literature, theatre, dance, culture and film for over three decades in South Africa. He was the first male journalist reporting for the “women’s page” of The Star between 1980 and 1982 and was also the first editor of the entertainment supplement, Star Tonight! As a food critic in the late 1980s, he wrote under the pseudonym of Rebecca Parker.

His long-running column Spit ’n Polish was published as a book in 2006 and he had a Sunday-night radio show on 702 from 1989 to 2004. He also participated on popular entertainment and magazine shows, which featured his insight into South African culture. He retired from public life in 2014 and dedicated himself to gardening.

He was awarded a British Tourism Certificate in 2003 for his contribution to the English language and culture and in 2005 received the English Academy SA’s Pringle Award for reviews and contribution to the English language. In 2014 he was awarded a Special Lifetime Achievement Award by the Sunday Times for his contribution to South Africa’s cultural life. In 2015 the newspaper announced that its Fiction Prize would be known as the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize (it is no longer named after a person).

He is survived by his partner of 45 years, Albertus van Dyk.

Sources: Sunday Times, Beeld

Shirley Siew (1925-2022)

Professor Shirley Siew (MBBCh 1947, MMed 1963) passed away peacefully after a short illness on 16 June 2022 at the age of 97. She was a professor of pathology at the College of Human Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Michigan State University. She also practised as a senior pathologist at Ingham Regional Medical Center and was a consultant in cardiovascular pathology at St Lawrence Hospital, a faculty director in electron microscopy, and later as an emeritus pathologist at Ingham Regional Medical Center and Sparrow Hospital.

Born in St Petersburg, Russia, on 12 March 1925, Siew was the youngest of three children. Her family escaped antisemitism to South Africa in 1934. According to a family member, Evana Siew (BCom 1996), Shirley skipped two grades because she was so bright, and then went on to follow in her sister Tanya’s (BSc 1942, MBBCh 1947) footsteps by joining the handful of female students studying medicine at Wits.

Professor Siew developed an interest and skill in electron microscopy when this was still in its infancy. During the late 1950s, the need for South Africa to have a National Pathology Group was recognised and Professor Siew was among the 34 delegates who agreed upon the formation of the South African Society of Pathologists (SASP) and prepared a working constitution. At the time, there was only one pathology discipline on the registry of specialties of the South African Medical and Dental Council so SASP was called upon to represent laboratory-based professionals on a wide spectrum of issues. The initial objectives of the society were to “advance pathology and to facilitate contact between those interested in pathology and related subjects”.

In 1970 she moved to Indianapolis and then Pittsburgh two years later. In 1977, she moved to Michigan, where she stayed for the rest of her life, becoming a professor of pathology at Michigan State University.

In 2011 Professor Siew was named a Fellow of the American Heart Association, and in 2013 she was appointed to membership of the Clinical Department of Biomedical Sciences. She published numerous articles, participated in scientific exhibitions, and presented at over 150 national and international scientific presentations and conferences. Her countless awards for contributions to medicine included two Gold Medals from the American Medical Association; a Dedication to Teaching Award from Michigan State University in 2000, awarded to a faculty member who has demonstrated dedication to excellence in teaching integrated clinical sciences in systems courses; a Pre-Clinical Teachers Award from the College of Human Medicine; and a Dedication Award from the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Professor Siew had a reputation for knowing each student by name and ensuring active participation in her lectures. In 2002, her students honoured her with a plaque and her portrait outside the histology lab for “her commitment and dedication in teaching the Michigan State University student body in the fields of cardiology and pathology for over 20 years.” Twelve years later, several of her students created the “Dr Shirley Siew Student Award” to support students who met the criteria to study clinical or doctoral degrees from Michigan State University.

In November 2021, four months short of her 97th birthday, she retired officially.

Besides her devotion to medicine, Professor Siew was also an avid pilot. She was one of the founding members of the Women’s Aviation Association and participated in the South African National Flying Championship in 1965. She continued to fly recreationally well into her 90s.

Sources: Michigan State University, South African Jewish Report

Jessica Katzenellenbogen (1928-2022)

Jessica Katzenellenbogen (BA 1950), née Schneider, died on 2 July 2022 in London at the age of 93.

Both her parents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania who arrived in the country in the 1890s. Her father came to South Africa at the age of 17 and her mother arrived as an infant in the arms of her aunt. Katzenellenbogen was born in Johannesburg in 1928, but spent her early years in Nelspruit, where her father owned a general dealership. He later established a seed supply business, and the family moved to Observatory in Johannesburg.

She attended Barnato Park School in Johannesburg for her entire school career. From her earliest days, she took piano and singing lessons, and acted in plays. Her extensive repertoire of songs, many of which she knew by heart, included Lieder, opera, and hits from the 1940s. Music was a great love of her life, and she had a singing lesson a few days before she died.Jessica Katzenellenbogen (née Schneider) in 1950, the year she graduated from Wits

Wits opened many new horizons for Katzenellenbogen and gave her a wide circle of life-long friends. She majored in classical life and thought and greatly enjoyed the lectures of the renowned head of the Classics Department, Professor Theo Haarhoff. She also majored in music and was taught by the head of the department, the eminent historian and musicologist, Professor Percival Kirby.

At Wits she appeared in productions such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the 1948 production of Antony and Cleopatra, as Charmian, a Lady in Waiting to Cleopatra (played by Vivienne Drummond who went on to have a successful professional stage career). Dr Derek Keys (BCom 1951 DEconSc honoris causa 1995), South Africa’s first post-apartheid finance minister played Caesar.

Katzenellenbogen was befriended by Cecil Skotnes (BA 1951, DLitt honoris causa 1996), Larry Scully (BAFA 1951), and Christo Coetzee (BAFA 1951), all of whom became well known artists. As a student she bought one of Coetzee’s paintings, which hung for many years in her home. According to her son, Jonathan, she was taken to several Wits dances by Lewis Wolpert (BEng 1951), who was a civil engineering student at the time. Stanley Glasser (BCom 1950), who composed the 1960s musical King Kong, went out with a good friend, Gretchen Anderson (BA 1950), née Scholtz, and Herbert Kretzmer, a journalist who became a lyricist, and wrote the musical Les Miserables was also in her circle of friends. The late Robyn Fryde (BA 1950, LLB 1958), who owned and ran Thorold's Bookshop in Johannesburg, was in her Classical Life and Thought class and was a lifelong friend.

After Wits she had a brief career on the Johannesburg stage and on radio. She acted in a number of plays including Lilac Time with Robert Flemyng, the well-known British actor, and To Dorothy a Son, which went on a national tour. On radio she presented a well-received series of talks on Africana, the books, documents, and artifacts to do with the continent.

Her older brother Dr Jacob Schneider (MBBCh 1949, DMed 1956) became a well-known specialist in tropical medicine, while David Schneider (LLB 1958), her younger brother, studied law and was a partner at Werksmans in Johannesburg until he left for the US in the late 1970s. In the US he established the Wits Fund and was its president for many years and his late wife Dr June Schneider (BMus 1959, PhD 1962), lectured in the Wits Music Department.

She had a decisive nature, and married Joseph Katzenellenbogen after three weeks of engagement. Early into the marriage, her career on stage and radio ended, as her husband did not want to come home after a day at the office and not see her. She set up a beautiful home where she combined antiques with South African paintings and pieces of African sculpture. She also spent time volunteering for the Progressive Party and the Black Sash.

Tragedies in 1977 left an enormous gap in her life. Her second daughter, Peta, died of malaria and then six months later her husband died of a heart attack. In the late 1970s she moved to London.

Katzenellenbogen had a natural ability to make new friends, offer comfort and give common-sense advice. A builder she had employed would come around for tea, and a singer she met on the train turned into a friend who gave her an 80th birthday present by entertaining guests at her party.

In her later years she greatly enjoyed entertaining and talking to her grandchildren at home, and cooking dinners for family and friends.

She is survived by her daughter Tessa (BA 1975); sons Jonathan and Mark; daughter-in-law Claire; son-in-law Daniel and grandsons, Isaac, Joe, Freddie, and Theo.

Source: Jonathan Katzenellenbogen

Doris Sandig (1924-2022)

Doris Sandig, née Myerson, (BA 1945) died on 29 June 2022.

She graduated from Wits in 1945 with a BA, majoring in economics and psychology. After graduating she worked at the American Information Library, later going on to work at the Teachers’ Training College. These were the post war years and many of the enrolments at that time were returned service men embarking on a career in teaching.Doris Sandig

She married Raymond Sandig (MBBCh 1945) in 1948. They had four children, Colleen, Gail, David, and Jonathan.  The family emigrated to Australia in 1981 and spent ten years living in the regional city of Orange, where Raymond was the Medical Superintendent of Bloomfield Hospital, a specialist psychiatric hospital.

Sandig spent her later years living in St Ives in Sydney. She maintained a strong, ongoing interest in reading, language studies (especially French), people, cultures and the preservation and protection of animals, birds, and other wildlife. She valued education highly and instilled these values in her children and grandchildren.

Source: Sandig family

Jillian Carman (1951-2022)

Dr Jillian Carman (BA 1972, BA Hons 1974, PhD 2003) died in the United Kingdom of pancreatic cancer on 29 May 2022.

Dr Carman was a loyal Wits alumna, visiting research associate at the Wits School of Arts, former curator at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) and deputy-president of the Executive Committee of Convocation at Wits for many years. In 2008 she received a Volunteer Recognition Award from Wits Alumni Relations.Dr Jillian Carman

She had a keen interest in South African heritage, museums, public collections, and art history. She contributed immensely to the functioning of the JAG since her position as curator of the print and paper collection. She also completed a subsequent doctorate into its history that culminated in the seminal book Uplifting the Colonial Philistine: Florence Phillips and the Making of the Johannesburg Art Gallery (Wits University Press, 2006). Dr Carman was an astute editor of catalogues and numerous art books. Among others, she edited one of the volumes of probably the most definitive collection of essays on South African art history, namely: The Visual Century: South African Art in Context 1990-2007 (Wits University Press, 2011). She was also responsible for the development of the Museum Standards Toolkit, which is an indispensable tool for assessing compliance with international museum standards.

She served in many capacities as honorary patron of Michaelis Collection, trustee of the Edwin Lutyens Rand Regiments Memorial, board member of the Wits Art Museum; executive board member of the SA National Committee of the International Council of Museums; president of the SA Visual Arts Historians.

She had a “kind, friendly and caring demeanour” and her deep institutional memory and dedication to the life of South African art will be missed.

Sources: City of Joburg and Wits archives

Marilyn Martin (1943-2022)

Respected curator, lecturer and author Maria HelenaMarilyn” Martin (MArch 1981) died on 22 May 2022 in Oranjezicht, Cape Town from cancer. She was an architectural historian with research interests in early twentieth century modernism and the former head of the Iziko National Art Museum. According to news reports she completed her last book from a hospital bed on her cellphone, and her third book had three chapters finalised.

Martin grew up in Robertson and Heidelberg. She started university at the age of 23, while working at a newspaper in various capacities, and completed her honours degree in history of art from the University of South Africa.

She was a single mother with two children and was offered a position as a lecturer in art history at the University of Durban-Westville after her ex-husband moved to Scotland. She stayed for five years and later moved to Wits. She initially worked at the univMarilyn Martinersity’s Performing Arts Centre, doing administration “because I couldn’t get a teaching job without a master’s degree”. She registered to do a master’s in architectural history and was soon appointed as a lecturer of the history of art and architecture in the Department of Architecture.

Martin took on the role of director of the South African National Gallery in Cape Town from Raymond van Niekerk (BDS 1953) in 1990. She acknowledged it was her experience at Wits that informed her decision to place work of different artists and time frames, for example the historical African and contemporary work, in the exhibition. She was unafraid of the prevailing cultural patriarchal orthodoxy and during her tenure she promoted an enlightened agenda.

Martin initiated several projects to redress past injustices and transform future policy. She learned isiXhosa and the museum started using languages apart from English and Afrikaans. She broadened the acquisitions policy to include works not traditionally defined as “fine art”, such as beadwork, ceramics, textiles, photography, cartoon drawings and architectural design. She ensured a greater transparency in the way the gallery operated and even made entry to the museum free. She repatriated artefacts and artworks (including about 2 000 works by Gerard Sekoto).

Martin was appointed director of art collections for Iziko Museums in 2001 and retired in 2008 but remained active in art circles. She was a member of the National Arts Council from 1997 to 2004 and a trustee of the Arts and Culture Trust until 2007. She served on the Council of Iziko Museums from 2010 until 2013.

Martin was described as “stylish, academically honed and politically enlightened”. While her demeanour may have been tough, she had a kind and generous heart. A close friend, Melvyn Minnaar, told Beeld newspaper that she made sure the homeless around the South African National Gallery got food, especially on Christmas Day, and she knew many of their names.

She curated numerous exhibitions of South African art around the world, including Mali (1994 and 1996), Denmark (1996), France (1997), the USA (2002 and 2003) and for the 2002 São Paulo Bienal. She co-curated Picasso and Africa at the Gallery in 2006 and the Louis Maqhubela Retrospective at the Standard Bank Gallery in 2010.

Martin wrote numerous articles on art, culture and architecture in academic journals, exhibition catalogues, books, magazines and newspapers. She was the author of .  Her most recent monograph titled Kevin Atkinson – Art and Life (Print Matters, 2022) is due to be released later this year.

Martin was an honorary research associate at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. She served as visiting professor at Kingston University, London, in 2009. In 2002 she was admitted to the Legion of Honour of the Republic of France at the rank of Officer and in 2013 she received the medal of the Fondation Alliance Française in Paris. She was also compiling a group exhibition for the Hermanus Fine Arts Festival to open its tenth year of existence in the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg, touring the country. She served on the National Arts Council as a board member and was also on the board of the Creative Arts Foundation.

Martin is survived by her daughter Catherine, son John (Ziyaad) and his wife Shereen, and grandchildren Leilah and Reyaaz. 

Sources: Arthrob, Beeld and Wits alumni archives

Leslie Lang (1946-2022)

Much loved dentist, Dr Leslie Lang (BDS 1970), who devoted 51 years to building his dental practice the “Smile Studio”, died on 4 May 2022 at the age of 76.Dr Leslie Lang

Dr Lang was born on 19 February 1946 and after completing his schooling at Rondebosch Boys in Cape Town he moved to Johannesburg to continue his studies at Wits. He was class representative from his second year to graduation with a bachelor’s degree in dental science in 1970. He completed a master’s periodontics in 1975 and he earned a diploma in general dental practice from the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1992. In 1995 and 1996, he completed post graduate diplomas in special dentistry at Wits. In 2003, he graduated cum laude in sedation and pain control, with a post-graduate diploma in dentistry, from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr Lang was passionate about sharing his knowledge. Over the years, he ran study groups and lectured at the University of Western Cape. More recently, he trained dentists in conscious sedation, taking the role of “teacher” seriously while providing support to his colleagues and applying new procedures. In 2019, he and a colleague provided guidelines to the South African Dental Association to guide those dentists employing the techniques of conscious sedation.

Dr Lang was described as “generous and compassionate” and he “went out of his way to help others”. He also gave his time to community organisations such as Rotary and Lions. He was a family man and had a zest for life, and a sense of adventure and fun. He loved cooking and enjoyed exploring restaurants.

Dr Lang is survived by his wife Jenny, his two children, their spouses and four grandchildren.

Sources: Megan Geddes, Mark Gilman, Heather Lang and Jenny Lang

Phindile Xaba (1968-2022)

Journalist Phindile Xaba (BA 2004) died on 7 May 2022 at the age of 53 after a cancer diagnosis in 2020.Phindile Xaba 

Xaba’s career included being the editor of Real Magazine, under the Media24 stable, which created “a platform for healing of women”. She was also the founding editor of the Sowetan women’s club and worked for the Mail & Guardian as the editor of The Teacher, The New Age, True Love, City Press and The Journalist among others. At the time of her death, she was a communicator in the office of the deputy minister in the Department of Public Service and Administration, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake.

Xaba began her career in print media at the age of 17, but she also worked as a television production manager, scriptwriter, producer, director and researcher, with some of her work showcased on SABC and M-Net. She had a long-standing relationship with Penn State University in Pennsylvania, working closely with journalism students and Professor Anthony Olorunnisola.

Fellow Wits graduate and journalist Mathatha Tsedu (BA Hons 2008) described Xaba as “the journalist’s journalist”. “She walked the communications route extensively, living up to her belief that information is power and that communication, particularly journalism, was critical in the developing state of democracy here at home,” he said. She was further described as a “kind, smart, exceptionally skilled, and hardworking woman”.

Xaba is survived by her daughter, Nhlakaniso, three siblings and her parents.

Sources: News24, TimesLive

Hymie Klein (1931-2022)

Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Hymie Ronald Klein (MBBCh 1953), known as “Ronnie”, passed away peacefully at the age of 91 on 21 April 2022.

He was born in Benoni to immigrant parents and after graduating from Wits in 1953 he specialised as physician as well as gynaecologist and obstetrician. Dr Klein was acknowledged by his peers and patients as one of the country’s best diagnosticians. He believed in life-long learning, publishing widely and addressing many congresses and symposiums. He lectured at the Johannesburg General Hospital and Wits Medical School and was an examiner for final year medical students.  

Despite his achievements and accolades, Dr Klein was described as “remarkably humble and kind, sought after by many for his Solomonic wisdom and insights”. He was a loving husband, and father of four daughters: Deborah, Lisa (BA 1993, BA Hons 1994), Julia and Jessica.

Source: Jane Klein

Johannes Hendrikus de Beer (1938-2022)

Respected engineering and environmental geologist Johannes “Joe” de Beer (BSc 1960, BSc Hons 1962, MSc 1966) died peacefully on 16 April 2022 at the age of 84.

He was born and raised in Pretoria, matriculating from Helpmekaar High School for Boys in 1955 and going on to major in geography and geology at Wits. His first job was at the General Mining and Finance Corporation in the Free State gold fields and he returned to Wits to complete his honours in economic geology in 1961. In 1964, he changed direction and completed his master’s in science in engineering geology with Dr Tony Brink as his supervisor. His thesis, with hundreds of profiles around Johannesburg and his Engineering Geological Map of Johannesburg, is still used by many and was recently digitised.

He worked at Ove Arup and Partners from 1965 to 1979. Notable projects included the Carlton Centre (with its 30 metre deep basement covering four city blocks), the Standard Bank Centre (30m basement, built over old stopes on Main and South reefs), the Hillbrow microwave tower (269m-high concrete structure) and the Vaal Reefs South Reduction works (these had complex foundations in dolomitic terrain).

As a committed member of the profession, he was involved in the South Africa Section of the Association of Engineering Geologists in the 1970s and was chairman of the organisation for several years. He was offered a Senior Emeritus Membership in 2009 and in 2014 he was awarded a Gold Medal.

He left an indelible impression on the field of engineering geology and his passionate interest in data banking kept not only his own records in order but those of the companies he worked in. He set up the Johannesburg Geotechnical Data Bank. According to the South African Institute for Engineering and Environmental Geologists, it is perhaps the last functioning data bank in the country.

He was an avid collector of rocks and a keen environmentalist, who cared deeply about botany, and loved indigenous trees and succulents.

In 1966 he married a music teacher, Patricia, who developed Alzheimer’s at the age of 49 and died at the age of 64. De Beer is survived by his partner Anna Batchelor-Steyn and two children Tamsen and Charl (BCom 1994, BAcc 1995).

Source: South African Institute for Engineering and Environmental Geologists

Gerald Gilchrist (1936-2022)

Paediatric haematologist-oncologist Professor Gerald “Gerry” Gilchrist (MBBCh 1957) died in his home in Minneapolis, US on 10 April 2022. He was born in Springs, east of Johannesburg. He served as Helen C Levitt Professor for 12 years, and chair of paediatric and adolescent medicine at Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School. From 1981 to 2000, he directed the Mayo Comprehensive Haemophilia Centre. He chaired the National Childhood Cancer Foundation’s Medical Advisory Committee, the American Board of Paediatrics (ABP) Sub Board of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology, the American Academy of Paediatric section on Haematology/Oncology, and its Council on Sections. He also played significant roles in the activities of the Children’s Cancer Group, was a director of the ABP, and a member of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Residency Review Committee for Paediatrics.

Professor Gilchrist met his best friend and future wife, Toni Besset, in 1967, on a flight from Houston to Los Angeles; they connected over the novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. After retirement, he and Toni moved to Minneapolis. He was a founding board member of Reach Out and Read MN and volunteered in the Little Earth community, helping children learn to read. Despite many awards, honours and leadership positions, Professor Gilchrist was described as “a humble leader and mentor; he asked to be remembered as a good guy and an honest broker”. Among his many honours were the National Foundation’s Joseph D Early Award in 1997; the America Medical Association’s Abraham Jacobi Memorial Award in 2001; and American Academy of Paediatrics Child Advocacy Award in 2012.

He was a loyal Witsie, serving on the SRC in 1956/1957. In 2004, he wrote in Pediatrics about the incredible contributions made by Wits-trained physicians in the United States. “It is not possible to separate the roles of seed and the soil in contributing to this impressive list of achievements. However, in my opinion, these unique accomplishments reflect in large part the superb clinical training and the commitment to education of the teaching staff at Wits Medical School’s affiliated paediatric units. This suggests that the key ingredients for realising the potential of talented students is not necessarily high-technology laboratories or fancy facilities; where there are dedicated and serious teachers dedicated to hands-on medical education, the seeds of greatness will grow.”

He is survived by his wife, sister Maureen, three children, their spouses and grandchildren. 

Sources: Wits University archives, The Star Tribune

Steven Blend (1956-2022)

Businessman and cycling enthusiast, Steven Blend (BCom, BAcc 1982) passed away at the age of 65, a few weeks after his son's wedding on 11 April 2022. He was in Germany receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer.

He was born on 23 September 1956 and grew up in Emmarentia, Johannesburg, attending Emmarentia Primary School and Greenside High School. He studied to be a chartered accountant at Wits together with his wife, Zoe, as classmates.

He served his accountancy articles with Tuffias Shapiro and business ran deeply in his veins, which saw him collaborating with many in the South Africa’s business community. He was described as someone with an enormous heart, who many saw as a symbol of loyalty. He mentored his three sons in their careers: Justin (BCom 2005), Darren (BSc Eng (BMed) 2007, BSc Eng (Elec) 2008), and Gregory (BCom Hon 2011).

Source: South African Jewish Report

Andrea Leenen (1972-2022)

Andrea Leenen (MSc 2011) passed away on 1 March 2022 after a short illness. Leenen was a close friend of Wits and an ardent supporter of the palaeosciences. She had been CEO of the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST) since 2000 and raised funds to build the organisation into one of the largest Africa-based independent organisations that support research, education and public understanding of Africa’s fossil history.

Leenen saw the origin sciences as a gateway for young Africans to embrace scientific thinking. To this end, and to help steer learners towards a career in the African origin sciences, she co-created the award-winning Walking Tall educational theatre project with Greg Melvill-Smith in 2001. In its original form as a live theatre performance followed by an interactive science session that won the hearts and heads of learners, Walking Tall visited schools and science festivals throughout South Africa and in seven other African countries, reaching over 1.4 million beneficiaries. Recently, she led the creation of filmed Walking Tall theatre performances, termed “theamentaries”, which promise to greatly expand the project’s reach in and beyond Africa.

In recognition of the tremendous social value of the origin sciences, Leenen co-led the creation of the All from One campaign with Rob Blumenschine in 2015. One of the campaign’s inspirations was the late PAST patron and fellow Witsie Johnny Clegg’s Scatterlings of Africa song, which PAST adopted as its credo in 2011. All from One uses the science of the shared origins of life and the African origins of people everywhere to promote continental pride and dignity, human unity and anti-racism, and the imperative for our survival to conserve Earth’s natural environments and biodiversity. At the time of her passing, Leenen was leading the expansion of All from One into what she anticipated would become a global campaign.

Tributes from colleagues indicate that Leenen was “a beacon of enthusiasm, intelligence and generosity that shone without limit. Her passion for and knowledge of Africa and its prehistoric past earned her the admiration and love of countless people across the continent and beyond.”

Sources: PAST, Wits University

Colin Caro (1925-2022)

One of the founders of bioengineering, pioneer in the study of arterial fluid mechanics, originator of the low-shear-stress theory of atherosclerosis, scientist, and mentor Professor Colin Gerald Caro (BSc 1947, BSc Hons 1950, MBBCh 1950, PhD 1960, DSc Eng honoris causa 2010) died on 21 February 2022 at the age of 96.

He began his medical studies at Wits after matriculating at Parktown Boys High School in Johannesburg in 1942. At the end of 1944 his studies were interrupted to volunteer for the South African Navy, where he served initially as an ordinary seaman at Saldanha Bay, and later aboard the frigate HMSAS Swale in the waters off the Cape and Equatorial East Africa.

After demobilisation in early 1946, Caro returned to Wits, but changed direction to read for a science degree in physiology while simultaneously studying towards a medical degree. The BSc Hons and MBBCh were conferred in March and December of 1950, respectively. He was awarded a doctorate in medicine in 1961 also at Wits, for a thesis entitled “Pulmonary Function in Patients with Kyphoscoliosis” in which he demonstrated that lung elastic recoil strongly determines airway resistance. After working in hospitals in South Africa, the US and the UK, Caro settled in London in 1960 as a lecturer at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School.

In 1966, he founded the Physiological Flow Studies Unit (PFSU), a pioneering bioengineering facility at Imperial College. At the time no researchers were trained in bioengineering but as director he recruited an eclectic mix of talented mathematicians, physicists, engineers, biomedical researchers and clinicians who shared his vision of a new, multidisciplinary approach but who had little if any previous experience of it. Importantly, interactions between the fundamental and applied researchers maintained both rigour and relevance, and the quality of the recruits led to excellence in new areas of research, outside of Professor Caro’s own developing interests, including respiratory airflow, tissue mechanics, physiological heat exchange, transport in connective tissues, the analysis of arterial pulse waves, and biofluid mathematics.

Professor Caro’s foresight and skills were matched by his fund-raising and team-building abilities. PFSU was not only one of the first biofluids groups anywhere in the world but quickly grew to become an international powerhouse. The lack of an undergraduate teaching programme meant that salaries and facilities had to be supported by external funding. Over the years, he proved himself adept at obtaining grants from unorthodox sources.

A list of Professor Caro’s scientific achievements and publications explains only part of his influence. He chaired or sat on influential bodies, but his views were also sought less formally, at scientific meetings and in casual conversation. He spoke quietly – almost inaudibly – and his handwriting was illegible. He had gravitas and great presence, which undoubtedly aided his success, but he could also be mischievous. In his early days he was known for his furious driving around London of a Messerschmitt Kabinenroller (fortuitously also known as a Karo), a car with three wheels, two seats in tandem, a motorcycle engine and not much else.

After his “retirement” in 1991 he retained an emeritus position and served as the first director of the Centre for Biological and Medical Systems at Imperial College, later to become the Imperial College Department of Bioengineering. He made daily visits to Imperial College until the start of the COVID pandemic 28 years later. He was still working on new ideas only weeks before his passing. His first and last papers are separated by 60 years.

Professor Caro’s achievements include three honorary degrees, an invited professorship at Tokyo Women's Medical College (first awardee, 1981); inaugural member, World Council for Biomechanics (1990); Foreign Fellowship of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (initial awardee, 1994); Founding Fellowship of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (2000); the Arthur Guyton Award from the International Society of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science (2003); Outstanding Engineer at the Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards (2007); and Annual Harveian Lecturer at the Harveian Society of London (2011).

Professor Caro was married to Rachel Alice Caro, an architect, for 57 years, until her death in 2013. He later married Marilyn Evans, who had worked at PFSU. He is survived by a son, Simon, and daughter, Joanna, from his first marriage, and their children and grandchildren.

Sources: Wits University archives and Journal of Biomechanical Engineering

Elvira Singh (1976-2022)

A respected public health specialist with extensive experience in the fields of cancer and surveillance and cancer epidemiology, Dr Elvira Singh (MMed 2009) died on 27 February 2022. She was head of the National Cancer Registry and a senior staff member at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Singh graduated as a medical doctor from the University of KwaZulu-Natal at the end of 2000 and received her master’s degree in community health as well as her fellowship in public health from Wits, winning the Henry Gluckman Medal for Best Candidate. 

She then joined the National Institute for Occupational Health as a public health specialist in January 2010. Under her leadership, first as acting head in 2013 and officially in 2016, the National Cancer Registry was an active member of the African Cancer Registry Network, which is the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Hub of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development (GICR). The National Cancer Registry was nominated as a GICR Collaborating Centre for the region for childhood cancer and record linkage, and Singh was also instrumental in ongoing developments to establish national childhood cancer registration in South Africa, as part of the IARC–St Jude project ChildGICR.

Dr Singh enhanced the pathology-based cancer surveillance system, to implement pilot population-based cancer registration, and to extend this initiative to three other sentinel surveillance sites throughout the country. The Ekurhuleni Population-Based Cancer Registry (EPBCR) is the first urban population-based cancer registry in South Africa. Singh led a team that produced two years of data from the EPBCR, and was in the process of establishing a second population-based cancer registry in KwaZulu-Natal, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

She was also dedicated to collaborating with the cancer registry in research activities. She collaborated with IARC scientists on studies on haematological malignancies and on childhood cancer, as well as pilot activities on how to investigate possible cancer risks in relation to the contamination from uranium and other harmful substances found in the gold mine tailings in the Johannesburg region. She always insisted that this research went hand in hand with capacity-building, ensuring that early career scientists would participate in and benefit from this work.

In addition to her tremendous work at the NCR, she developed a flourishing research career, being an author or co-author on more than 30 peer-reviewed research publications. She was also a superb teacher at undergraduate and postgraduate level, supervising a number of master’s and PhD candidates.

Dr Singh was ideally placed to advise on the government’s policy and strategic approach towards cancer prevention and control. She contributed significantly to the approved National Cancer Strategic Framework; the policies for breast and cervical cancer; the pending policies on prostate and lung cancer; and the proposed policy on childhood and adolescent cancer. 

She is survived by her husband Shailen, her son Mihail, and her mother Roshni Singh.

Sources: International Agency for Research on Cancer, Wits University and Daily Maverick

Harold Edwin Price (1939–2022)

Harold Edwin Price (BSc Hons 1960) loved by so many and known as Eddie, was born in Johannesburg on the 26 January 1939 to his devoted parents, Anne and Jules, followed soon after by his beloved sister Maureen.  Like so many of his generation, his grandparents had come from Lithuania and what was then Palestine, but his father was born in Oudsthoorn and his mother in Johannesburg, and in due course they became Bobba and Oupa to Eddie’s kids. 

Eddie went to Miss Morrow’s kindergarten and then Kenilworth Junior School. His brilliance was soon recognised by his teachers and when he was about 11, his headteacher approached his parents, who were not educated, thinking to persuade them to let Eddie continue in education beyond 16 and especially, to go on to university. They needed no persuading, although his father, Jules, in his own dry way, which he passed on to Eddie, replied: he doesn’t really have the body for physics.

Eddie went on to Rosettenville Central School and then Forest High School. At 13 his life was to change forever by being introduced to the game of chess.  Soon after, a chess grandmaster and world champion, Max Euwe, was playing in a simultaneous competition playing several members of the public at once; anyone could step up to play him and this young 14-year-old boy, who had not long learned the game, made newspaper headlines by winning the game, to the astonishment of everyone.

He became a schoolboy chess champion several times over, a game which was to prove central to his life.  A born scientist, he went on to Wits to a BSc Honours in physics, and then won the Elsie Ballot Scholarship for study at the illustrious University of Cambridge. Soon married, he and his wife Joan moved to England where he completed his MPhil in Physics at St Johns College, Cambridge, and his oldest daughter, Vicki, was born.  He came back to South Africa to a lecturing job at Wits, and after a couple of years and another baby, Debbie, bought the house in Greenside, where his youngest child Toni was born, where he lived, and where he ultimately died on 22 February 2022. 

 Eddie was a big character whose social world and numerous contacts, many around the globe, revolved around chess and squash, lecturing physics, daily runs, playing and teaching bridge, and teaching friends and family’s children maths and science to help them get through matric. In fact, his daughters were also sure that squash was his job as he seemed to spend more time on the squash court during the working day than in the physics lab. Above all he was devoted totally to being the best father who would do anything, fight every battle, for his three daughters, whom he became sole parent to when their mother died nearly 40 years ago.  He passed on most of his passions to his daughters – a love of maths and science, of puzzles, of puns, and of chess and squash, though he never managed to turn any of them into bridge players, despite his best efforts.

He was always willing to help those in need - including political fugitives, whom he “adopted” and hid in his Greenside house in the 1970s. In his later years, he still regularly took in people who needed a place to stay or safe haven, and he felt very deeply that not enough was done in the world to eradicate the problems of homelessness, poverty, and hunger. He wrote over the years to many ministers about these issues, often suggesting to them solutions which he could see might make life better. Indeed, holding people to account by writing letters and pursuing issues of injustice until he forced those in power to respond to him, even if just to admit that they weren’t going to do anything about it, was an abiding feature of his life.  In going through his papers in recent months, his daughters have even found a letter from the Queen of England herself.Harold Edwin Price

Eddie in due course became a South African Chess Champion, represented his country at the Maccabi Games and at two World Chess Olympiads including the Chess Olympiad in Havana, Cuba 1966. This was one of the last Olympics to which South Africans were allowed before the boycott years. Che Guevara, a keen chess player, was a frequent spectator at the games, and Eddie retains a treasured chess set presented to him by Fidel Castro himself. His contributions to the South African Chess Federation and chess in South Africa more widely were legion, serving many times as President, with a career spanning committee work, tournament directing, administration, coaching, and indeed as an international chess arbiter, ultimately representing South Africa on the FIDE committee which sets the world rules of chess. He was South Africa’s delegate to FIDE Congress, and campaigned tirelessly, at the highest levels and globally, for South Africa to be readmitted to international chess.

 He and his friend, Arthur Kobesi, dedicated themselves to introducing chess to schoolchildren in Soweto, with Eddie believing all his life in the transformative power of the game.  He persuaded international grandmasters to visit, often staying at his Greenside house, to strengthen the game in South Africa, and a number of players recall a legendary braai at Eddie’s house in the early 1990s, where to their surprise they found the World Champion, Anatoly Karpov hanging out. Eddie had invited Karpov to his home to introduce him to the taste of boerewors cooked on his famous Swannie Braai.  When South Africa was re-admitted to the Chess Olympiad after the ending of the boycott, Eddie returned with the team to Yerevan, Armenia in 1996, this time not as a player but with himself and Arthur Kobesi as Captain and FIDE Delegate.  He travelled the world with chess and managed many teams over the later years of his career, including – in a departure from chess – the South Africa Maccabi squash team at one of the Maccabi games. 

Until the pandemic, he was to be found on a Friday playing five-minutes-per-player blitz chess in the corner of a Greenside café, with a group of old mates, just a few men hanging out playing chess, while those looking on had no idea that most of them were former national chess champions. In a true reflection of grandparenting in the modern age, until just two or three weeks before his death, he would play chess most weeks over the internet with his grandson in London, Joshua, and when the video technology failed, the entire game would be played, from Eddie’s side, in his head. The absence of a board was no impediment to his extraordinary chess brain.

His competitive chess days ended in the early 2000s when he represented South Africa for the last time at the World Seniors.  In the two days since his death, tributes have poured in from the Chess Community around the world for his lifetime contribution to the sport, described as a “true giant of the game” and “a very sad loss for SA Chess”.  People also remember his intellect as a physicist and his delivery of the Einstein memorial lecture; his humour and intelligence; his dedication as a teacher of maths, physics and chess; and above all, his honesty and integrity, a man who lived every single day true to himself.  A friend of his, Arnie Witkin, recalls a game of Diplomacy, a game that Eddie and Joan would often host at their Greenside house back in the 1970s, which involves negotiating with other players. To win the game, at some point you may need to switch allegiances, and so every deal had to be treated with suspicion and you always had to cover your back. Except, says Arnie, “when you did a deal with Eddie.  You knew it was more solid than the Bank of England.”

For the last eight years, Eddie was cared for at home by his carers who became a welcome part of the household together with their families, and during the school holidays the Greenside house would once again ring to the sound of children’s laughter, which Eddie welcomed too. The last two years have been particularly harsh with him being separated from his children and grandson by the pandemic.  
Sources: Daughters Deborah (BA 1980), Victoria (BA 1984, PDipEd 1985) and Tonia (BSc 1988, MSc 1992) Price

Ramarumo Monama (1947-2022)

Justice Ramarumo Monama (LLB 1984) passed away on 17 February 2022 following a short illness. He was an active judge in the Gauteng Division of the High Court since 2010. After completing matric, he obtained a Bachelor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of the North in Limpopo and was awarded a Bachelor of Law degree from Wits in 1984. He was also a member of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits and published a paper in 1983 on “Pass” courts. He served his articles at Webber Wentzel attorneys and qualified as an attorney. He ran one of the biggest law firms in Mahikeng for many years. He was a director of Sun International and a board member of Bophuthatswana Legal Aid.

At his funeral service, he was described as a “brilliant jurist and lawyer”, a man who “kept his promises”, and “a strict, but good man” who “upheld the scale of justice with unflinching impartiality”.

Former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng wrote in a tribute: “He worked extraordinarily hard, was not sympathetic to mediocrity and was careful about who he employed and gave briefs to... He nurtured potential of young legal minds and gave opportunity to advocates hungry for success.”

He “was a focused, principled, diligent, straight-talking and amazingly basic person”.

Sources: News24; Judge Ramarumo Emerson Monama - YouTube

Conrad Viedge (1948-2022)

Conrad Viedge (BA 1981, BA Hons 1982, MA 1984), who was an integral part of the MBA programme for almost 35 years at the Wits Business School (WBS), passed away on 4 February 2022 after battling cancer. Thousands of students were taught, mentored and guided by Viedge and were inspired by his passion for education. 

Viedge held various positions at the WBS, including MBA director, acting head of executive education, director of international programmes, and director of the international executive development programme. He was wholly committed to business education and the positive role it can play in shaping people’s lives and careers. During his time at WBS, he was closely involved in the design of several management and leadership development programmes and took a personal, deeply vested interest in the success of the students he taught.

Viedge was raised in the Eastern Cape and was a registered industrial psychologist. He consulted in the areas of leadership, organisational effectiveness, performance management and self-management. He published articles and won numerous awards during his tenure at WBS.

He was well known for his kindness and thoughtfulness – someone who always had the best interests of his students at heart. 

He is survived by his son Roland and daughter Alison, and their families.

Source: Wits University

Harold Simon (1920-2022)

For decades Harold Simon (BCom 1941), better known as Smoky, was a living legend of Israel’s War of Independence. He was one of the approximately 4,800 men and women from 59 countries who fought alongside the Israel Defence Forces or acted as field medics. He died on 28 February 2022 shortly before his 102th birthday.

Simon was born in 1920 to a Lithuanian-born father and British mother. After completing his studies in accounting and commerce at Wits in 1941, Simon joined the World War II effort, and volunteered to serve in the South African Air Force, where he trained to be a navigator and bombardier. He later transferred to the Royal Air Force and flew missions over Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Italy.

After the war, he returned to Johannesburg, where he worked as an accountant. In April 1948 he married his wife Myra Weinberg, a meteorologist in the South African Air Force. The newlyweds found their way to Israel where Simon joined the Air Force. In June 1948, only a month after their arrival, Simon was appointed the IAF’s Chief of Operations and participated in 24 bombing missions altogether.

Most of the volunteers returned to their home countries once the war had ended, but Simon remained in the Air Force till the end of 1950 and was discharged with the rank of major. He and his wife returned to South Africa where he started the Simon and Wiesel Insurance Agency, specialising in life insurance. He sold the portfolios to Migdal Insurance Agency in 2000 and settled in Israel. He was the chair of World Machal since 1968 and the founding member of the Menacem Begin Heritage Foundation in Jerusalem. He received the TELFED Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to Israel in 2014 and the Sylvan Adams Bonei Zion Prize in 2019.

Sources MSN, Wits archives and Wikipedia

Andre Piehl (1970-2022)

Top triathlete and businessman Andre Piehl (BCom 1993) died in a cycling crash near the Cradle of Mankind on 1 February 2022. Piehl was an operations executive with JSE-listed Famous Brands.

Tributes shared on social media described him as a devoted father, husband and enthusiastic triathlete who loved life and the outdoors.

Paul Ingpen, Triathlon SBR, Mountain Bike and Road Bike magazine publisher, said: “Andre Piehl adored the sport of triathlon as much as he lived for his family. He had a big heart and smile. He was warm, honest and worked very hard to reach his goals.”

Piehl realised his dream of competing in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii a few years ago. In 2011, he finished 11th in the 40-44 division at the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in Nevada, and he went on to compete at the ultra-distance Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in 2017. He also finished sixth against younger opponents, in the elite age group, at the national championships in 2013.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon, and teenage twins Tyler and Axel.

Source: News24

Huw Phillips (1947-2022)

Professor Emeritus Huw Phillips (PhD 2019), a Wits stalwart renowned for his teaching, research, and leadership in mining engineering the world over, passed away on 26 January 2022.

Born in Wales, Professor Phillips studied electrical engineering at the University of Bristol and took his first job with the National Coal Board, the agency tasked with running the coal mines of the UK. His work focused on improving the productivity of the country's collieries through mechanisation ­– at a time when some underground operations still used pit ponies to haul coal and equipment. He then became involved in research into tunnelling.Professor Emeritus Huw Phillips

But underlying much of his growing expertise was a pre-occupation with health and safety. He had grown up in village just six kilometres from Aberfan, where a tragic coal-tip slide in 1966 killed 144 people - 116 of them schoolchildren. He had arrived home from university on the day of the disaster for a family function, and took part in the recovery operations alongside hundreds of local residents.

His interest in mining led him to complete an MSc and PhD in mining engineering at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His work and research in the coal sector continued as he relocated to the University of New South Wales in Australia in 1977, where he served for eight years. After spending his sabbatical leave in South Africa in 1981 with the Chamber of Mines Research Organisation, he returned to South Africa in 1985 as the Chamber of Mines Professor of Mining Engineering at Wits. During his time as Head of Department and subsequently Head of School, he dramatically increased undergraduate and postgraduate enrolments, and secured industry funding for research. Professor Phillips served for over 27 years as a Full Professor in the School of Mining Engineering, during which time he supervised more than 20 PhDs and over 40 master’s students. His research efforts at Wits covered five main areas: mechanised mining systems; spontaneous combustion; mine ventilation in deep-level gold mines – including software tools for designing cooling strategies; monitoring and controlling respirable dust in coal mines; and preventing methane ignitions and coal dust explosions. A formidable administrator and leader, he served as the Head of Mining Engineering from 1986 for a period spanning over 25 years. He also served as the Chair of Mining Engineering until his retirement in 2012. He was appointed as an Emeritus Professor in 2013 and continued to supervise postgraduate students and to serve the University in various roles. 

In 2013, Professor Phillips was announced as the winner of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy’s prestigious Brigadier Stokes Memorial Award. He was lauded by the mining industry for his unique input and was honoured by the Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa, the Mine Ventilation Society of South Africa, and the International Society of Mining Professors.

As a leading researcher in mine safety and health, with a formidable career’s worth of mining research achievements, Professor Phillips earned a Doctor of Engineering degree from Wits in 2019. His work was described as a record of engineering development of major technological, economic and social significance and a distinguished contribution to the practice of engineering. His work will prove to be an invaluable resource for students of mining engineering and mining professionals for many years to come.

Professor Phillips dedicated much of his life to teaching, research, and making mines safer for thousands of miners. He was much loved by family, friends, colleagues, students and industry partners who knew him.

Sources: Wits University and Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

Joan Mavrandonis Gear (1947-2022)

Passionate advocate for the disenfranchised and public health administrator Joan Gear (BA 1981, BA Hons 1995, DHSM 1990), died in her beloved Lowveld in the town of Hoedspruit after a long illness on 20 January 2022.

She was born on the East Rand in 1947 to Aina and Jack Street. Prior to her studies at Wits as a mature social sciences student in 1979, she was a legal secretary with Edward Nathan in Johannesburg. After graduating in 1981, she started in the Wits Medical School Faculty Office in charge of medical student admissions and was later promoted to faculty secretary in Commerce and assistant registrar in charge of the Academic Information Systems Unit. This unit was responsible for converting the paper-based academic information system into a much-needed computerised data base.

Gear was lured by Dr Eric Buch (MBBCh 1981, MSc 1985, DTM&H 1986, DOH 1986) and Cedric de Beer (BA 1974) to help start the Centre for Health Policy, a unit that continues its health policy work in the School of Public Health today. She blossomed in this role, enjoying the close collaboration in “the cauldron” of the Department of Community Health.

In 1986, with her husband John (MBBCh 1967, DPH 1972, DTM&H 1979, DSc honoris causa 2017), she conceived the idea of establishing the Wits Rural Facility (WRF) near Acornhoek. After negotiating many hurdles, they made the leap of faith and committed to the founding of WRF, supported by a generous donation from the then Anglo American Chairman’s Fund in 1989, resigning from their Wits posts. She added further Wits qualifications, being awarded her postgraduate research with distinction.

Gear’s ideas and efforts were rewarded with rapid expansion of WRF’s focus into new areas and partnerships. By 1994, all but one of Wits’ faculties were sending students and staff to the centre to contribute to the then shallow understanding of the needs of marginalised rural people of South Africa. The facility had 23 fulltime donor-funded academic staff from the disciplines of ecology, law, education, engineering, commerce, architecture and social anthropology alongside the health sciences.

Unfortunately, the WRF was viewed with suspicion by more traditional forces, who considered a Wits presence in a remote rural area a departure from its core function as an urban university. In 1996, her post as administrative director was made redundant and the WRF was downgraded to a “Wits residence” for rural activities. Some funders remained and a trickle of students was sustained. The Agincourt Demographic Surveillance Unit flourished, gaining Medical Research Council Unit status. Then, in about 2010, a vice-chancellor’s review threw WRF a lifeline, recognising its huge potential.

On leaving Wits, Joan Gear was free to focus on gardening, watercolour painting, farming, quilting, birding, horse riding and exploring many Southern and East African destinations with her adult children. She was a wordsmith of note, read voraciously and eclectically and won 90% of the nightly Scrabble games.

She is survived by her husband John, her son Peter, stepchildren Sasha (BA Wits 1996) and Fraser, as well as his wife Sandra, her grandson, Luka Jo, her brother Barry and his family.

Source: Professor John Gear (MBBCh 1967, DPH 1972, DTM&H 1979, DSc honoris causa 2017)

Max Coleman (1926-2022)

Former human rights commissioner and anti-apartheid activist Dr Max Coleman (BSc Eng 1949) passed away on 16 January 2022, at the age of 95.

A chemical engineering graduate from Wits, Dr Coleman was born in South Africa in 1926 to a Lithuanian-born father and Irish-Catholic mother. He completed his doctorate at Imperial College London but returned to his home country and married Audrey Goldman in 1953. The couple had four sons, Brian (BSc 1980), Keith (BA 1981, BA Hons 1983, MBA 1991), Neil (BA 1980) and Colin (BArch 1988).

The Colemans’ lives of activism started with a policeman’s knock on the door at 5am on 24 October 1981, as documented in The Knock on The Door: The Story of The Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (Picador Africa, 2018). They learned that their son, Keith, who was not at home at the time, was on a security branch list of activists. The following morning Dr Coleman accompanied Keith to John Vorster Square police station and thus began his recording of his son’s – and soon others’ ­–detention by the security police.

Dr Coleman stepped away from his role as businessman with a successful chemical and photographic company to become a founding member of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (DPSC), which provided food, clothing and legal assistance to detainees. The DPSC united people of all backgrounds and the first meetings were held at Wits. The organisation shared information about legal rights, generated publicity and helped families link up with the Black Sash, medical professionals, psychologists, business people, academics and human rights lawyers. By the time Keith was released from detention in April 1982, the DPSC had grown into a national movement. Dr Coleman was a meticulous record-keeper, and his records are vital evidence of this violent period of South Africa’s history. These are currently lodged with the Historical Papers Archive at Wits.

In 1985, Dr Coleman co-founded the poverty-fighting agency Kagiso Trust, with the likes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (honoris causa LLD 1993), Eric Molobi (LLD honoris causa 2000) and Dr Beyers Naudé. At the turn of the decade he was also appointed as a commissioner of the broad-based Human Rights Committee that was set up following the banning of the DPSC, which continued to help to raise awareness about state violence in the build-up to the first democratic elections in 1994. Coleman would go on to serve as one of the first commissioners of the South African Human Rights Commission and as an MP in Nelson Mandela’s government of national unity.

Dr Coleman, along with his wife, received the Order of Luthuli in Silver conferred by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November 2021 for his contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace and conflict resolution.

At his memorial service speakers paid tribute to Dr Coleman as a man of few words, who had the ability to listen intently. His actions reflected kindness: he never turned anyone away or refused to give help. He paid attention to the details in all areas of his life. A nature lover, he made careful notes on shells, birds and music and marvelled at the mechanics of how things worked. Keith said: “We see in Max things that we all value, but seldom see in the world. Max was a humanist: solid, trustworthy, he was consistent and, in his deepest self, unchanging – regardless of his audience. We can draw a straight line connecting his values to his words and his actions.”

He is survived by Audrey, his four sons and eight grandchildren.

Sources: SA History Online, Wits archives, New Frame, Daily Maverick

Clive Noble (1938-2022)

Dr Clive Noble (MBBCh 1961) was born in Johannesburg in 1938 and died on 13 January 2022. He readily admitted that he disliked school and matriculated with four Ds, an E and an FF for Latin. With his sights set on studying medicine, Dr Noble did an aptitude test through the Department of Labour and was told he stood little chance. His luck turned when, two weeks after the academic year started, he was called to study medicine at Wits. In his first year he achieved two firsts and in his final year, he came third in his class of 92 students.

Dr Noble was a keen sportsman and decided to study sports medicine simultaneously with orthopaedics. He was one of the first doctors to focus on a treatment for different sports injuries. He served as a medical adviser for cricket, rugby, football and boxing in South Africa. In 1995 he was one of the founders of the first sports medicine clinic in South Africa. The model template to include an orthopaedist, a sports medicine physician, radiologist, physiotherapist, biokineticist and dietician in the patient’s treatment became the template for similar centres countrywide.

As part of his interest in protecting boxers from injury he studied the cushioning properties of boxing gloves and his findings influenced the way that boxing gloves are manufactured today.

In his retirement in 2003 he moved to Plettenberg Bay and ran run a historic country guest house in The Crags, with his wife Colleen of nearly 60 years.

He is survived by his wife, three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Sources: 1961 Wits alumni biography and Jon Patricios, South African Journal of Sports Medicine

Aura Herzog (1924-2022)

Aura Herzog née Ambache (BSc 1945), the mother of Israel’s President Isaac Herzog and widow of Israel’s sixth president, Chaim Herzog, died on 10 January 2022 at the age of 97.

Herzog was born in Egypt after her parents were expelled from Jaffa by the Turks during World War I. She completed a degree in mathematics and physics at Wits before immigrating to Israel in 1946 and joining the Hagana, the defence organisation that was the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces.

She then joined a diplomatic course and met Chaim Herzog; the two married in 1947. During the War of Independence she served as a soldier in Military Intelligence and later in the Science Corps. She was seriously wounded in a bombing attack in 1948.

Herzog served in various public positions over the years. She helped found the International Bible Contest, which is still held annually, and she founded and led the Council for a Beautiful Israel, a non-profit environmental group that remains active.

After her husband’s death in 1997, Herzog led efforts to commemorate his life and work. The couple had four children. Their son Michael is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

She was buried in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery.

Sources: Wits archive, Times of Israel

Janice Angove (1974-2022)

Janice Angove (BSc 1995, PDipEd 1996, BA Hons 1996, BEconSc 2003, BEconSc 2004) fell ill while on holiday in Mpumalanga and died in hospital on 8 January 2022. 

Angove served the Actuarial Society of South Africa as an examiner for many years.  She was also deputy chair of the MicroInsurance Committee and a member of the Africa Committee. She initially studied psychology but discovered actuarial science which become her true passion. She started her actuarial career working as a consulting actuary at Quindiem, and then combined her enthusiasm of teaching and actuarial science by taking on a major-time lectureship at Wits.  She was deeply committed to her students and took special care in being accessible, supportive and nurturing.  Her projects across Africa have been instrumental in developing risk protection.

In 2011 she also took on a part-time role with the Financial Services Board (which became the Financial Sector Conduct Authority) and was involved in supporting the development of microinsurance regulation.  She was a member of the Products Standards Working Group commissioned by National Treasury in 2012 and an observer member of the MicroInsurance Network (2013-2014) and a member of the associated working group. More recently Angove had been involved with the Access to Insurance Initiative (A2ii) set up by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors and the International Labour Organisation (among others) to ensure that the world’s excluded and underserved have access to insurance, allowing them to take control of their lives and reduce their vulnerability against risks.  She coordinated the A2ii's regional implementation work in Sub-Saharan Africa, strengthening cooperation and supporting capacity building for supervisors in the region.  She also supported various projects of the Finmark Trust over the years and most recently served as a member of the FSD Network where she presented at seminars and moderated forums.  Her sessions for the A2ii and FSD Network were extremely well-received reflecting her dedication to the task as well as her well-honed teaching skills.

She lived in Parkview with her cheerful household menagerie and was committed to the community as a member of the Rotary chapter. She leaves behind her mother Barbra, brother David and his family. Her Wits colleagues will miss her cheerful nature and unfailing willingness to lend a hand or offer support.

Source: Wits School of Statistics and Actuarial Science


In Memoriam 2021 cntd

Peter Wranz (1938-2021)

Professor Peter Anthony Bernhard Wranz (MBBCh 1962) was born in Johannesburg on 28 December 1938 to Austrian immigrant parents. He matriculated at Christian Brothers' College in Boksburg in 1955. Professor Wranz studied at three South African universities, obtaining his MMed (O&G) at the University of Pretoria in 1976, and his MMed (Anat Path) at Stellenbosch University in 1985.

He specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology after working as a general practitioner in Pretoria, and thereafter devoted his career to academic medicine. Following his specialisation in anatomical pathology, he excelled and became Professor and head of the Department of Anatomical Pathology at Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, a position he held from September 1995 to February 2000. During his tenure, he contributed significantly to the development of cytopathology and the correlation of cytological findings with histological diagnoses, a relatively new concept at that time. He was highly regarded and much loved as a lecturer, receiving the Rector's Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1994. Undergraduate and postgraduate students never missed an opportunity to attend his teaching sessions - even if they were held at 07h00 in the morning.

He was a mentor to senior staff, and his door was always open to those seeking advice on how to manage recalcitrant colleagues and challenging students. His opinion was always invaluable, as he was wise, kind, and, while unfailingly fair, always knew how to find a diplomatic way to deal with a problem. Just being in his presence somehow induced a sense of calm and wellbeing.

After retiring as head of department in 2000, Professor Wranz took up a part-time sessional appointment in the Department of Anatomical Pathology, devoting his efforts to the teaching and training of registrars.

Professor Wranz faced many health challenges courageously and did not allow them to dampen his enthusiasm for life. Shortly before his death, he was diagnosed with a large aneurysm of the abdominal aorta. Since open surgery was regarded as too risky, he decided on a non-invasive procedure. Technically, inserting an aortic stent went well, but he developed multiorgan failure. On 18 December 2021, he passed away peacefully in the presence of his family. As usual, he faced this great challenge with dignity and courage.

Professor Wranz was a real gentleman and a sincere, even-tempered, softly spoken, friendly, modest and loyal person of integrity. He valued friends and colleagues and enjoyed close contact with students as head of the Private Students' Organisation at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University. A devoted family man, he dearly loved, supported and encouraged his children and grandchildren in their endeavours and set an example of how to live a meaningful life of compassion. Accompanied by his wife Elsefie and their children, he continued visiting his family and friends in Austria and Germany following his retirement.

To the very end, he was a fanatical Formula 1 enthusiast; he was a Lewis Hamilton fan. He supported Western Province Rugby and admired the All Blacks' professionalism. Music played an important role in his life, from Austrian Bauernmusik to light jazz and pop. However, classical music such as Beethoven's Emperor and Triple concertos, the great violin concertos, Mozart's compositions, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf singing Strauss's 'Vier letzte Lieder' provided many hours of listening pleasure.

He is survived by his wife Elsefie (Naudé), three children and three grandchildren.

Sources: South African Medical Journal (Hein Odendaal, Bert Schaetzing, Colleen Wright, Johann Schneider)

Brian Watt (1940-2021)

Brian Watt (BSc Eng 1964) passed away in North Richland Hills, Texas on 28 December 2021 with his children by his side.

Born in South Africa, Watt always had an aptitude for maths and science. He worked his way through Wits and was awarded the South African Gold Medal for Top Engineering Student. At university he played for the under 19A rugby team as a lock forward as well as taking on the lead role in Wits’s choral society’s production of ‘’The Gondoliers”. A subsequent full scholarship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his PhD took him and his wife Clare Lighton to unchartered territory in the United States.

After completion of this PhD, Watts returned to South Africa to work for Ove Arup where he designed bridges and managed construction projects. This led to his selection as project manager for the revolutionary Centre Pompidou in Paris. He learned to speak, read and write French fluently in six months at the beginning of his tenure as project manager. After Paris, he worked in the Ove Arup London office for four years before emigrating to Texas with his family in 1977. He formed Brian Watt Associates, after working for Shell, which became renowned for designing pioneering deep water drilling platforms and floating island technology used in the Arctic. He later worked for Parsons in London followed by Joy Environmental in Texas during which he also served as chairman of the National Research Council’s US Marine Board.

Following a rich and diverse professional career in engineering and business, he retired to a life of sailing. His adventures began “island hopping” in the Caribbean and culminated in a five-year sailing trip around the world. During that time he remarried, visited remote islands, explored new cultures and survived sailing through a cyclone and visited over 40 countries. In 2003 a severe car accident in Louisiana left him permanently disabled. He had to give up sailing but enjoyed many years living near in Key Largo, Florida before moving to Texas in 2013.

He lived a life of learning, adventure, mentorship. His tenacity, intellect, generosity changed the lives of those he knew and loved. He is survived by his sister Merle (Watt) Shirley, children Belinda Watt and her husband Mike O’ Keefe, Caroline (Watt) Waggoner and her husband Mark, Trevor Watt and his wife Melanie and grandchildren Matt, Casey, Aidan and Sophie.

Source: Houston Chronicle

Desmond Mpilo Tutu (1931-2021)

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu (honoris causa LLD 1993) died on 26 December 2021 in a Cape Town care home with his wife and three of his four children by his side, following a more than two-decade-long fight with cancer. He was 90 years old.

Born in Klerksdorp on 7 October 1931, Archbishop Tutu was raised by his teacher father, Zachariah, and domestic worker mother, Aletta. When he was 12, his middle-class family moved to Ventersdorp. At the age of 14 he contracted tuberculosis and over the course of 20 months in hospital he developed a lifelong friendship with Father Trevor Huddleston, who became his religious inspiration and mentor. After matriculating at Madibane High with flying colours he was offered a place to study medicine at Wits, but the family couldn’t afford it. He became a teacher instead after graduating from the University of South Africa. A year later, he married Nomalizo Leah Shenxane.

He resigned from his missionary school teaching post, opting instead for a career in the church. In 1960 he received his licentiate in theology and was ordained as a priest in 1961. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees through a scholarship at King’s College at the University of London. In 1967 he returned to South Africa and joined the staff of the Federal Theological Seminary in Alice and became Chaplain at the University of Fort Hare. He moved frequently: from the University of Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and another spell in England as associate director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches.

Upon his return to South Africa in 1975, Archbishop Tutu was appointed the Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral. He wrote to the South African prime minister John Vorster in May 1976: “The people can only take so much and no more.” Two weeks later, the Soweto protests erupted. He was persuaded to take up the post of general secretary of the South Council of Churches between 1978 and 1985 and through this role, Archbishop Tutu became a national and international figure.

In 1984, Archbishop Tutu was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and in 1994 he headed South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a first-of-its-kind judicial committee that called on apartheid-era perpetrators to publicly apologise for their crimes to victims, who in turn shared their stories. He embraced both abusers and the abused.

Archbishop Tutu had a close link with Wits. He was a member of the Board of Control of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies since its inception in 1978 and played a leading role in the centre’s direction. He also participated in the general life of the University through advice and addressing innumerable meetings. In 1982 when Archbishop Tutu was prevented from visiting the United States to receive an honorary degree from Columbia University, Wits acted as host to the conferment of the degree by the President of Columbia University. In 2011 he included Wits in his 80th birthday celebrations with a lecture series to celebrate youth, interfaith dialogue, and non-violent methods of protest, despite his close friend the Dalai Lama being denied a visa to attend the celebrations.

Short in stature, Archbishop Tutu, affectionately known as “Arch”, was a towering figure. He spoke on causes including corrupt governance, global warming and autocratic rulers. In 2016, he supported his daughter Mpho’s marriage to a woman, despite the South African Anglican Church’s teaching that marriage was a union between a man and a woman. “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven,” he said. He communicated freely with tears and shrieks of delight. His self-deprecating humour and authenticity endeared him to many.

Archbishop Tutu is survived by his wife, Leah, four children Trevor, Theresa, Naomi and Mpho, and his sister Gloria. 

Sources: Sunday Times, Wits archives

Dawn Irene Stephens (1941-2021)

A proud Wits alumna, a devoted sister, daughter, wife and mother of three, long serving community leader, energetic grandmother and a respected chief chemist, Dawn Stephens, née Cawood, (BSc 1961) died on 4 December 2021, aged 80, after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Stephens was born in Boksburg to James and Maud Cawood and grew up in a civic-minded family. Her father served on the Boksburg Town Council for 22 years and was mayor from 1959 until 1969 and again in 1975. She was deputy head girl of Boksburg High School and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and applied mathematics in 1961. Stephens started working as a chemist for Anglo American Central Metallurgical Laboratories and then moved to SAPPI from 1963 until 1967. She then took time out to start her family before going back to work for East Rand Gold and Uranium from 1980 till 1990. In the later part of her career, she was involved with mentoring young graduates doing research and development work. In 1990 she moved to Impala Platinum Refineries and was promoted in 1993 to chief chemist, first in the Nickel and Copper Laboratory and then in the Platinum Metals Laboratory.

She served on numerous community committees both at local government and on a professional level and in most instances as chairman. In 1975, she fought in her father’s ward (as an independent candidate) and won the by-election to fill his seat on the Town Council. She served for 24 years as a councillor and was later awarded the title of Alderman for her many years of dedication and service.

Boksburg grew and prospered during this time and went on to become a city. During her time in local government, she spearheaded the building of the Boksburg Library, helped get the Strelitzia Service Centre and Cosmos Home for senior citizens built, fought to get pensioner rebates for rates introduced and obtained concessions for disabled motorists. She stopped the old Post Office from being demolished and got it declared a historical monument, and also campaigned for the revamping of the Boksburg North swimming pool to meet Olympic standards.

In her early 60s she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer but was asked to stay on and consult even though she was undergoing treatment. She beat breast cancer and would generously give her time to supporting fundraising initiatives and encouraging other breast cancer survivors. After her retirement she also served as an external assessor on the Wits Admissions Board.

Stephens enjoyed gardening, travelling, playing bridge and spending time with her family and friends. She is remembered for her courage, mentoring of others and astute bridge skills. She had an enormous zest for life and love for her family and friends. She believed that personal fulfilment comes from having a well-rounded life.

She is survived by her three children Raymond, Brett and Debbie and beloved granddaughter, Sarah. 

Source: Debbie Wray

Lawrence Distiller (1944-2021)

Pre-eminent voice on diabetes in South Africa and founder of the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (CDE), Professor Lawrence Distiller (BSc 1965, MBBCh 1968), died on 1 December 2021.Professor Lawrence

Professor Distiller received his medical degree from Wits and qualified as a physician, obtaining his FCP(SA) in 1972, subsequently sub-specialising in endocrinology and diabetes. He worked as an associate professor of medicine in the Endocrine Division at the University of Colorado, Health Services Centre in Denver for a year in the US. He returned to South Africa in 1982 and entered private practice. He was elected a Fellow of American College of Endocrinology, a Fellow of Royal Society of Medicine and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 2010 he was appointed an Honorary Visiting Professor at the Centre for Endocrine and Diabetes Sciences at the University of Cardiff Medical School in Wales. He was a member of numerous societies and organisations including the American Endocrine Society, the American Federation for Clinical Research, the Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. He was an active participant for number of international study groups and workshops related to diabetes and is on the Central Operational Committee for several large international clinical trials. Professor Distiller authored over 80 scientific publications, presented at a number of international diabetes conferences and was on the editorial board of four publications. He was a member of the International Diabetes Federation Guideline committee.

At the CDE, he understood that enabling patients to control their diabetes was the most efficacious method to treat the disease and he initiated the diabetes-team approach to diabetes. Every patient was assigned not only a physician but an educator, dietician, biokineticist, podiatrist, and possibly even a psychologist to ensure diabetic longevity. The results showed improved diabetes control in the community under his care.

At his memorial service, award-winning fellow endocrinologist Professor Roy Shires (MBBCh 1971, PhD 1985, BSc 2005), spoke about the collegiality among Professors Distiller, Professor Harry Seftel (BSc 1949, MBBCh 1952, LLD 1995), and Professor Barry Joffe (MBBCh 1962, PhD 1965). “Larry was a great inspiration,” he said.

Professor Distiller was a keen wildlife enthusiast and an avid rugby and cricket fan. He is survived by his children, grandchildren and second wife Barbara.

Sources: SA Jewish Report, Wits archive

Barry Lovius (1930-2021)

It is often said that “you never forget a brilliant and inspirational teacher”. Dr Barry Lovius (BDS 1954), who died on 30 November 2021, was one such teacher and is remembered with fondness and gratitude by those who studied under him.

Born on 7 November 1930 in Bloemfontein in South Africa, he left his hometown at the age of 18 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in dental surgery in 1954. He then moved to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where he gained valuable experience in a dental practice in Salisbury (now Harare).  He moved to London and completed a post-graduate orthodontic course at the Eastman Hospital. In 1963, he moved to Liverpool to take up the position of senior registrar at the Liverpool Dental Hospital and shortly afterwards he was appointed senior lecturer in orthodontics at Liverpool University, a position he retained until his retirement in 1996.

In 1984 Dr Lovius was appointed head of the Regional Cleft Palate Unit, and his clinical work was divided between Liverpool Dental and Alder Hey Children’s hospitals. The care and treatment of children with cranio-facial deformities calls not only for skill and knowledge but also for exceptional patience, perseverance and, above all, empathy; all qualities with which Dr Lovius was particularly gifted.

In his dealings with his colleagues he was noted for his interest in promoting diversity, the generosity with which he gave of his time, his honesty and integrity and his refusal to bow to political expediency. These things were also noted and appreciated by his students as was his sense of humour and his unstinting commitment to their learning and their welfare.

In 1996 he retired but he did not, however, stop working. He moved to Aberdeen to take up a full-time locum consultant post at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. To that position he again brought his customary dedication, seeing patients not only in the orthodontic department of the hospital but also in several outlying clinics, including Elgin and Orkney.

When he finally stopped working at the age of 70, he turned his attention to supporting his wife, Alison, in the final years of her career as a teacher of French, accompanying her first to Devon and later to Berlin.

Dr Lovius died peacefully at his home in Formby and leaves his wife, Alison, four children from his first marriage to Jean Grant and seven grandchildren.

Source: Sumithra Hewage

Robert Arridge (1924-2021)

Dr Robert Graham Chadwick Arridge (BSc 1948) passed away on 7 November 2021 at the age of 97.

He was born on 12 October 1924, the son of Herbert, a chartered accountant and Ruth Chadwick Arridge, who emigrated to South Africa in 1937. He matriculated from St John’s College, in Johannesburg, in 1941, and proceeded to Wits the following year, where he enrolled initially for a civil engineering degree, but “found [it] rather boring” and swapped to a science degree. His studies were interrupted by the Second World War and he volunteered to serve in the South African forces in Egypt and Italy.Robert Arridge

Arridge was exposed to the work done at the Bernard Price Institute and the early days of radar. In 2015 he wrote about his experience to the Wits Alumni Office: “It started with a six-week crash course in valve electronics. Our textbook was The Radio Amateurs Handbook which told us about conventional radio but not about the microwave world brought about by the (then secret) cavity magnetron.

“I soon found out about it, however, when I was sent to 23 Squadron South African Airforce Squadron at Fisantekraal in the Cape to look after ASD in Lockheed PV1 bombers. This worked at 3cm wavelength and used waveguides. All of us had to learn pretty rapidly about microwaves!

“My experience also included a Ground Controlled Interception set at Wonderboom in the Transvaal and ASV Mark3 (Air to Surface Vessels 10cm wavelength) sets in Wellington bombers at Cecina Marina in Italy.”

In 1948 Arridge benefitted from a post-graduate scholarship, which enabled him to go to the University of Cambridge for further studies in mathematics. He acquired extensive research experience in industry, with British Nylon Spinners and Rolls-Royce. His background was in maths and engineering, and his main interest developed around the problems of fibre-reinforced materials, which he applied as chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Bristol in 1969. He was able to make valuable contributions to the work of the group’s work on polymers. He also fitted in well in both undergraduate teaching and in the teaching of the MSc course on the physics of materials.

He married Mary Elizabeth Humphrey in 1953 and had two sons, Simon and Richard, and a daughter, Helen, who passed away in infancy.

Arridge remained a loyal Wits alumnus and memories of Johannesburg was central to his correspondence, such as the old Colosseum theatre in its heyday (from 2016): “There was even a dress circle on the upper gallery, where people used to wear evening dress. Every evening we were entertained by Charles Manning (“the Svengali of Music”) and his orchestra… It even had an organist, rising from the bowels of the earth at the keyboard of the mighty Wurlitzer and playing popular songs that we could sing to, helped by scripts on the screen. There was also a 20th Century Fox Cinema not far away from the Metro. In one or other of these cinemas I remember sitting through nearly four hours of Gone with the Wind (with a useful interval halfway through). Jeppe Street I remember as the site of the New Post Office, with several floors and a selection of Post Office boxes to which one had an individual key in order to access any mail. I was sent up by my father to collect letters.”

Sources: University of Bristol and Wits archives

Clive Graham Knobbs (1941-2021)

Clive Graham Knobbs (BSc Eng 1964) passed away in November 2021 in Somerset West after a sudden illness.

After qualifying in 1964, he worked in various positions mines, he moved-up the ranks to the head office of a large listed gold mining company. He held directorship and chairman positions at listed entities mining for gold, uranium, coal and platinum. He was President of the Chamber of Mines twice and a director of the World Gold Council.

In 1970 he married Valerie Perryman, and they had two children, David and Christine. Knobbs continued to study after his mining engineering degree and obtained a bachelors and master’s in business leadership from the University of South Africa in 1969 and 1974 respectively. Later he completed a senior managers programme at Harvard and a diploma in clinical organisational psychology from the well-known French business school, Insead.

Technically, Knobbs never retired and ventured into various businesses from mining to retail. At heart he wanted to help those struggling in life especially those of university age which led to him being a lecturer to honours students at the University of Pretoria. While his responsibility was to teach mining design and techniques, he started to look beyond this and drew on his organisational psychology knowledge to help students grow personally and create a career path.  

Personally, he was an enthusiastic reader of books, fly fisherman, classical music lover, avid theatre-goer and traveller with his wife Valerie, he was involved in promoting start-up businesses in Somerset West and participated with Valerie in a food scheme for a local area that suffered from mass unemployment.

Source: The Knobbs family

Samuel Wolpert (1930-2021)

Neuroradiologist Dr Samuel “Muli” Wolpert (MBBCh 1953) died on 23 November 2021. He was born and educated in Johannesburg and completed his medical degree at Wits in 1953. After completing his internship, he spent time as a resident in internal medicine, orthopaedic surgery and finally radiology. After travelling to London, he trained at Guy’s and St Mary’s hospitals, and received a diploma in medical radiodiagnosis in 1960, but returned to radiological hospital practice in South Africa.

In 1963 Dr Mannie Schechter (MBBCh 1947), a senior neuroradiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) in New York, visited South Africa and offered Dr Wolpert a two-year NIH fellowship in neuroradiology. Through this Dr Wolpert emigrated to the United States in December 1964.

In 1967 Dr Wolpert was appointed as a neuroradiologist at the New England Medical Centre Hospitals in Boston Massachusetts and he remained there for the next 30 years. He climbed the academic ladder at Tufts University School of Medicine, becoming a full professor of radiology in 1974, and of neurology in 1979. He initiated a fellowship training programme, training 36 fellows between 1971 and 1997, and also started the Boston Neuroradiology Club.”

During his career, he published three books, 114 papers and three textbook chapters. He was active in the American Society of Neuroradiology as both treasurer and president, he was an editor at the American Journal of Neuroradiology and as a charter board member of the American Society of paediatric radiology.

In June 2004, because of his interest in and publications on paediatric neuroradiology, Dr Wolpert received a Special Recognition Award from the American Society of Paediatric Neuroradiology. He has had multiple speaking engagements, in the United States and overseas, and was Vice-President of the New England Roentgen Ray Society, as well as a member of numerous radiological societies. He has been an examiner for the American Board of Radiology and a CAQ examiner in neuroradiology.

He retired to Santa Fe with his wife Cynthia, with whom he had been married for 76 years. She preceded him in death in March 2021. He is survived by his three children and a grandchild.

Sources: American Journal of Neuroradiology

Roger Boden (1942-2021)

Professor Roger Boden (BArch 1966, PGDipTP 1973, MUD 1980, PhD 1983) died in Johannesburg on 3 October 2021 after a short illness. He was 78. He served on the academic staff at Wits for nearly 30 years, retiring as an associate professor in 2003. He was born in Johannesburg on 27 November 1942 and matriculated from St John’s College. In 1973 he married Dr Edeltraud von Varendorff (MBBCh 1970).

Professor Boden studied architecture, town and regional planning and urban design. In 1989, he completed his doctorate at the University of Washington in Seattle.

He began his career working as an architect before joining Rand Mines Properties, where he gained valuable experience in urban planning. In 1973, the joined the then fledgling Department of Town and Regional Planning at Wits and contributed centrally to its progress. He was also active on many university committees, including campus planning and library administration. Professor Boden was passionate about urban design and about teaching, inspiring many students to develop their creative and practical skills in the field, and heading the urban design programme.

Boden advised the Johannesburg and Sandton town councils on matters relating to town planning and design and supported local resident associations. In his retirement, he returned to architecture, designing churches, school extensions and private homes. He also had the opportunity to explore his interests in art, books, history and travel.

He is survived by his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren.

Max Percival Clarke (1926-2021)

Electrical engineer and historian Max Percival Clarke (BSc Eng 1948) passed away on 18 November 2021. Clarke was passionate about municipal electrical engineering and ran numerous successful projects.

He was born on 15 February 1926 in Butterworth, in the Eastern Cape, where he spent his formative years. After his graduation at Wits, Clarke completed his pupillage in the East London area. In January 1951, he was appointed as a graduate apprentice with British Thomson-Houston, Rugby in England.

While in the UK he met a young Australian nurse, Eileen, whom he later married and with whom he had three daughters. They returned to South Africa and Clarke was appointed as the town electrical engineer in Somerset East in 1954. Here he ran the electricity department, which included a coal-fired power station, for 16 years. In 1970 they moved to Newcastle in Natal, where Clarke took on the challenge of reconstructing the electrical infrastructure of the little town that was to become a boomtown due to the giant steelworks, lscor, opening a second plant there.

Clarke later moved to the Randburg Municipality, which was then a rural town with agricultural smallholdings. There were plans to establish the area as another economic hub along with modern housing and large commercial undertakings. He built an electricity department from the ground up, managing the design and construction of buildings and infrastructure, and appointing staff. He retired in 1990, but continued to work for the Association of Municipal Electricity.

Clarke was also an active member of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) and chaired its historical interest group. He led by example with passion, energy and knowledge. In 2013, he was awarded the Engineer of the Year in recognition of his contribution to establishing SAIEE's museum and library.

Source: wattnow magazine

Samuel Roy Caplan (1927-2021)

Professor Emeritus Roy Caplan (BSc Eng 1950, PhD 1953) died at the age of 94 on 10 November 2021. He was a renowned biophysicist in the field of bioenergetics, expert in mathematical modelling of molecular machines and biological oscillations.

Professor Caplan was born in 1927 in London, but grew up in South Africa and was educated at Wits, receiving his bachelor of science degree (cum laude) in 1950 in chemical engineering and his PhD in 1953 focusing on physical chemistry of macromolecules in solution.

He then worked at the National Chemical Laboratory in Teddington in England until 1959, when he moved for two years to the NIH as a visiting scientist. As of 1961 he spent four years in the lab of Aharon Katzir at the Weizmann Institute, and then moved to Harvard Medical School in Boston as an Associate Professor of Biophysics (1969-1973). Following a sabbatical leave at the Weizmann Institute (1971-1972), he immigrated to Israel and became an associate professor at the Weizmann Institute as of 1973. In 1977 he became a full professor. Subsequent to the foundation of the Department of Membrane Research by Ora Kedem, Professor Caplan succeeded her as departmental chair (1976-1979). He chaired the department again in 1984-1987. In 1996 he became a Professor Emeritus but continued to be scientifically active.

His studies at the Weizmann Institute were first focused on energy conversion processes and systems, with an emphasis on membrane transport. He, together with Ora Kedem and Aharon Katzir, developed a new approach to such systems — non-equilibrium thermodynamics. As of the mid-seventies, his group started to study (in addition to thermodynamics of transport processes through biological membranes) the properties, kinetics, and proton-pump activity of bacteriorhodopsin in the purple membrane of archaea (wrongly considered then as halobacteria). These were the first years of studying bacteriorhodopsin and his group published ample of papers in leading journals about this.

When Professor Caplan approached retirement, he mainly focused on mathematical modelling of molecular machines. These included, among many others, microscopic reversibility in enzyme kinetics, electrochemical potential, and the mechanism of rotation of the flagellar motor.

Professor Caplan was loved by his acquaintances because, in addition to being a superb and very clever scientist, he was described as “a descent and modest person, humane and a knowledgeable conversation man”.

Source: Department of Biomolecular Science

Bruce Gardiner (1932-2021)

Musician Bruce Gardiner (BMus 1954) died peacefully at home a month short of his 89th birthday on 9 November 2021. 

His legacy is encapsulated in the piano classics and keyboard melodies he performed in many auditoriums, churches and school halls. Gardiner was brought up in an era when swing, big bands and jazz were popular and he was influenced by pianists such as Carmen Cavallaro and Dave Brubeck.

Gardiner was born in Queenstown, now Komani, to Dr Ivor and Bernadine Gardiner and was schooled at Queen's College, to which he returned regularly throughout his life to give fundraising concerts. A severe illness at an early age prevented any meaningful participation in robust sport so his mother, a pianist, encouraged Gardiner to learn to play the piano. As a schoolboy he put his talent to good use by playing at assemblies and at raucous inter-schools rugby matches where he could be found at the keyboard of a honkytonk piano to the great delight of the crowd.

At Wits he obtained his music degree and proceeded to London where he spent a year acquiring his performer's licentiate. Back in South Africa, he headed the music department at the East London Technical College.

He spent many happy years in East London with his wife Nell and his three growing children until Nell fell ill in the early 1970s and the family moved to Cape Town for specialised treatment.

Shortly before the Gardiner family left East London, his friend Donald Woods, editor of the Daily Dispatch at the time, unobtrusively solicited donations from the city’s business community to purchase a grand piano in recognition of his services to music and education. On the piano he had inscribed: “To Bruce from the citizens of East London.”

Nell succumbed to her illness and in 1976 Bruce took up the position as head of the music department of the University of the Western Cape, where he became a revered member of staff until he retired in 1992. His elegant style and delicate touch in shows enchanted listeners all over the country.

He is survived by his son, Ivor, daughters Debra and Julia, eight grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and many devoted fans.

Source: Charles Beningfield

Zena Stein (1922-2021)

Influential and beloved epidemiologist Emeritus Professor Zena Stein (MBBCh 1950, DSc honoris causa 1993) died on 7 November 2021 at her home in Coatesville in the United States at the age of 99.

Much of her work was conducted with her husband Professor Mervyn Susser (MBBCh 1950, DSc honoris causa 1993), who died in 2014. Their pioneering research drew attention to the relationships between health, disease and social injustice.

Professor Stein was born on 7 July 1922 in Durban, to a family of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. Her mother, Lily (Rolnick) Stein, was a homemaker. Her father, Philip Stein, was a mathematics professor at Natal Technical College, which became the Durban University of Technology. She attended the University of Cape Town for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, receiving two Gold Medals for her work before embarking on her medical degree at Wits.

She married Professor Susser in 1949 and it’s documented that the couple organised a protest over the treatment of black medical students, who were barred from observing autopsies of white cadavers at Wits. Immediately after their internships, they joined with another radical couple, Dr Michael Hathorn (BSc Eng 1943, MBBCh 1950) and Dr Margaret Cormack (BSc 1946, MBBCh 1949), to direct and staff the Alexandra Health Centre and University Clinic in Johannesburg. These medics were influenced by Witsie couple Dr Sidney Kark (MBBCh 1937, MMed 1954, DSc honoris causa 1982) and Dr Emily Kark née Jaspan (MBBCh 1938), who ran Pholela, the landmark health centre in the 1940s in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Sidney Kark “was the one who explained to us how work as a doctor could in fact do something to society,” Professor Stein said in an interview in 2003 to the journal Epidemiology. “We had preventive medicine and curative medicine; he had a new word for us, ‘promotive’ medicine, which means you actually helped communities to make a difference to their health.”

Their “Pholela model” led them to carry out one of the first studies of community health, published in the Lancet in 1955 as “Medical Care in an African Township”. They worked as a team and conducted hundreds of studies, many of which shaped the field of epidemiology and community healthcare. During this period they developed ties with many leaders in the anti-apartheid movement such as Ahmed Kathrada (LLD honoris causa 2012), Walter Sisulu (LLD honoris causa 1999), Joe Slovo (BA 1948, LLB 1951) and Nelson Mandela (LLD honoris causa 1991). The Professor Susser and Stein helped write guidelines for healthcare in South Africa’s Freedom Charter in 1955.

Professors Stein and Susser, along with their three children, emigrated to Britain in 1956 after the arrests of many colleagues. Initially they lived in boarding houses and worried about money. Professor Stein worked nights in a mental hospital and after a year, Professor Susser found work at the University of Manchester and Professor Stein followed, working as a researcher.

In 1965 the family moved to United States, and they both found their academic home at Columbia University. Professor Stein began teaching first as an associate professor of epidemiology, then earning a full professorship and assuming administrative positions in what is now the Mailman School of Public Health in 1966. In 1968, she became director of the Epidemiology Research Unit in the New York State Psychiatric Institute, a position she held for 30 years. During this time their seminal work, the Dutch Famine, was published. It examined a nine-month period of malnutrition during World War II. They argued that babies exposed to famine prenatally were more likely to have cognitive deficits, and elevated congenital nervous system anomalies including neural tube defects. These results helped lead to clinical trials to investigate the role of folate in pregnancy, and eventually to a recommendation that all pregnant women consume folic acid daily. In 1977 Professor Stein was one of the founders of Columbia’s Gertrude Sergievsky Centre, which originally studied disorders of the nervous system.

In the 1980s, she turned her focus to HIV and co-founded the HIV Centre for Clinical and Behavioural Studies, which highlighted the needs of women living with AIDS. It is now one of the largest centres of its kind in the world, employing about 100 investigators and staff members in the study of HIV across different disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, public health, anthropology, sociology and social work. She remained close to her South African roots, playing a mentoring role to her Columbia colleagues Professors Salim Abdool Karim and Quarraisha Abdool (BSc 1984) based at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). They told of her fondness for South African treats such as rooibos tea, Peppermint Crisp chocolates as well as the annual visits to the country post-democracy. “We will always remember Stein for her warmth as this gentle, caring, highly energetic, and friendly person who always had time for all with whom she met,” they said in a CAPRISA statement.

In 2017 Professor Stein received the South African Medical Research Council’s President’s Award. In her acceptance speech she urged the audience to “forcefully protect the integrity of the mind and nurture carefully the humanity of the heart.”

She is survived by her three children, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sources: The Lancet, Epidemiology, CAPRISA, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Wits archives

Graham Pirie (1947-2021)

Respected civil engineer Graham Stephen Pirie (BSc Eng 1972), who played a pivotal role in the consulting engineering fraternity, passed away on 9 November 2021 following a heart attack. Born on 3 December 1947 in Johannesburg, he matriculated from King Edward VII High School in 1965 and started his tertiary education at Wits in 1967. In his first year, he registered for a mechanical engineering degree, but switched to civil engineering. “This was the best decision I ever made. I slotted into a career that has been a perfect fit. Civil engineering enables you to make a visible difference to people’s lives, dealing directly with quality of life,” he said in an interview in 2013.

He was a bursar of the City of Johannesburg and remained in service to the City until 1995. His distinguished career eventually took him to the position of deputy city engineer roads, before becoming director of metropolitan planning. He worked with provincial and state departments and had a hand in realising projects such as the construction of the M1 and M2, and the development of Newtown. After 1994 he played a meaningful role in the transformation process of the Johannesburg City Council.

In 1995 Pirie joined the then South African Association of Consulting Engineers (now CESA) as executive director and during the next 18 years, until his retirement in 2013, was active in the local and international consulting engineering fraternity. He helped establish the School of Consulting Engineers and worked with others in negotiating the Construction Industry Charter, which became the legislated template guiding black economic empowerment in the sector at the time. He was a valued Fellow of SAAE.

Pirie married Patricia, née Lindsay (BCom 1978), in 1970. He had keen interests in reading, photography, swimming, birding and wildlife in general. He had excellent interpersonal skills and, according to colleagues, “he knew how to handle difficult situations and was a master at providing innovative solutions to complex problems, be they of a technical, social or political nature”. He said he lived by his father-in-law’s philosophy: “Bite off more than you can chew and chew it.”

He is survived by his wife, two daughters and four grandchildren.

Sources: Fellow Johann du Plessis, The South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) and Engineering News

Maureen Dagut Meyerson (1935-2013)
Merton Dagut (1939-2021)

Wits was an unusual place in the middle decades of the 20th century. It was one of very few universities in the world where Jews of limited means really were and, crucially, really felt welcome, and where they could get an outstandingly good university education, nearly free.

The two young people in this dog-eared photograph were proud and grateful beneficiaries of that good fortune. Both knew that there were many ways in which they had been very lucky, and both were very much aware of the obligations that this created.A Witsie family: Maureen, Arnold, Ethel and Merton Dagut outside their home in Orange Grove in 1960.

The Daguts are seen here outside their modest house in Orange Grove, which looks like it’s just been repainted, possibly for this occasion. On the left is Maureen Dagut (BSc Hons 1978), in her blue BSc hood. On the right is her younger brother Professor MertonDagut (BA 1960, BA Hons 1962, MA 1965), having just received his yellow bachelor’s degree.

Between them are their parents, the gentle and self-effacing Arnold, who had shown some promise at school, but had to leave at 16 to earn a living, and the fiercely loving and formidable Ethel (nee Roomer), who left school even earlier. Neither got as much education as they had hoped for, and they both prized it deeply.

So, as you can tell, the Daguts thought that having two graduates in the family was a big moment, worthy of their smartest clothes and of being captured using expensive colour film. Merton was later to endow an award for the best student in economics I in memory of his parents and their commitment to learning.

Maureen and Merton never strayed very far from Wits. Maureen worked at the South African Institute for Medical Research and, after her marriage to another Wits graduate, Leslie Meyerson (BCom 1949) taught high school biology for many years. In the mid-1970s, Maureen returned to Wits to update her knowledge in microbiology and completed her honours in genetics. She then joined the Department of Anatomy at the Wits Medical School as a tutor and lecturer until she retired. Maureen loved the anatomy department and was tremendously – and rightly – proud of that very distinguished department and of the generations of doctors that she had helped to teach. Maureen would probably have wanted to be a doctor herself but that didn’t prove possible.

As a favoured son, Merton had an easier time, completing his honours and MA in economics immediately after his bachelor’s degree. Why Arts degrees? As someone who revered Professor Ludwig Lachmann’s learning and urbanity – if not always his Austrian-school approach –  Merton insisted that economics was, in essence, a humanities discipline, and so made sure his degrees were granted by the Arts Faculty rather than by the Commerce Faculty that – perhaps ironically – he was later to lead. After lecturing at Rhodes, and a difficult period in Cambridge, Merton married Jenifer Orkin, who taught in the History Department and Economic History division for many years. Merton moved into banking, becoming chief economist and then a senior executive at Nedbank, before returning to the Wits Economics Department as professor and head in 1989, and then serving as Dean of Commerce until his retirement in 2001.

Maureen and Merton were never Wits stars. Instead they were capable teachers and administrators, proud to be friends and colleagues of people like Professors Phillip Tobias, Tefor Jenkins, Edward Webster, Bruce Murray, Anthony Traill, Charles Simkins and Harry Zarenda, and proud to help make Wits a more inclusive place. The university had made them feel at home – and so it seemed to them only right that they should help Wits to welcome many more first-generation university students in the dying years of apartheid and the first years of democracy.

Wits shaped Maureen and Merton, created many of their possibilities, and – alongside their families – played a big part in making their lives meaningful.

Talking of family, these young graduates from the wrong side of Louis Botha Avenue have so far produced two more generations of Witsies, including Maureen’s son and grandson following in her footsteps with BSc Hons degrees (computer Science and Actuarial Science respectively) and Maureen’s older granddaughter, and Merton’s son and daughter obtaining BA Hons in psychology, history and linguistics respectively.

Indeed, for a few years in the 1980s and 90s, you could have found Maureen, Merton, Jen,  Maureen’s son, Merton’s son and daughter, plus three future in-laws, all working or studying at Wits. This was once mentioned suspiciously on a talk radio show, but there really wasn’t any nepotism involved. The Daguts were just a Wits family.

Sources: Bram Meyerson (BSc Hons 1987); Simon Dagut (BA Hons 1992); Helen Dagut (BA Hons 1994, LLB 1999)

David Grossman (1949-2021)

Ecologist and environmental consultant Dr David Grossman (BSc 1970, BSc Hons 1971; PhD 1988) was born on 24 June 1949 and died on 22 October 2021. He registered for a bachelor of science at Wits, majoring in botany and zoology and completing an honours year in 1971.

His introduction to conservation followed when he was appointed to a section of the Nature Conservatory at Etosha in the then South West Africa. Here he got to grips with the basics of “natuurbewaring” as it was practised at that time. This experience stood him in great stead: throughout his career, he set out to fully explore any project he dealt with, to gain a complete understanding of all dynamics of the system: be it environmental, social, human or bureaucratic. To ignore any was to do so at one’s peril. He completed a master’s degree (cum laude) under the legendary Jo Grunow at the University of Pretoria in 1981 followed with a PhD at Wits in 1988. His research on factors affecting ranching in the North West Transvaal became “recommended reading” for students studying ecology.

With game ranching recognised as a bona fide agricultural land use by the Department of Agriculture, Dr Grossman was appointed as deputy director, research tasked with setting up the game ranching unit. One of the new recruits remembers on his first day at the old “Departement Landbou” how pleasantly surprise he was to find his new boss with “a ring of beads around his neck, copper bangles around his wrist and a desk full of journals and natural history books" – definitely anti-establishment. Concurrently Dr Grossman was active in the Grassland Society of South Africa (GSSA) being president in 1991 and contributing immensely in getting ecology on the map within the GSSA, which fitted neatly within his range and forage interests.

In 1990 Dr Grossman left the formal agricultural sector and began a highly successful consulting career. Apart from conservation and management plans for over 40 private game ranches and reserves in South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Botswana, much of his work focussed on integrated rural development, community based-conservation (with Eddie Koch BA 1978, BA Hons 1977, MA 1984), environmental impact assessments etc, in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania and Abu Dhabi; project management and review including the Madikwe Initiative; reviews of the north western Namibian conservancies, CAPE and SKEP programmes and the Global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, including on-site assessments in Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr Grossman was described as “the ideal evaluation partner: independent and principled, articulate, insightful, constructive, immensely knowledgeable, and never took himself or anyone in positions of authority too seriously”.  His wicked sense of humour and adventurous spirit is legendary together with an amazing sense of wonderment and empathy about everything natural, wherever it was. He once described a visit to the Kunene River as being deeply spiritual: the place spoke and he heard. He often said to students and colleagues “you just got to read the veld, it talks to you”.

In 1997 Derek Hanekom, then Minister of Agriculture requested Dr Grossman to assess the KhomaniSan and their land reclamation venture, an estimated six month undertaking which, together with Phillipa Holden (BSc 1991, BSc Hons 1992, MSc 1995) ran to some 17 years! Ultimately, Dr Grossman was shyly proud of the community-run, commercial game and hunting ranch that emerged from his efforts and which remains the only current example of a successful aboriginal land claim in southern Africa.

Dr Grossman leaves his wife Elly (BSc Hons 1971, HDipEd 1972, MSc Dent 1987, PhD 1996) and brother Jonathan (BA 1974).  

Sources: Grassroots and

Elliot Wolf (1936-2021)

Respected educator and much-loved former headmaster of King David School, Elliot Wolf (BA 1957), died suddenly on 2 November 2021 at the age of 85. Wolf made an extraordinary contribution to Jewish education in South Africa for over 50 years.

He was born in Johannesburg as a twin with Jeffrey (BA 1957) and brought up in Yeoville. Although their parents were opposed to their teaching careers, both excelled in the field after completing bachelor’s degrees at Wits, majoring in English, Latin and Hebrew. Elliot taught at Parktown Boys’ High School for 10 years and joined King David High School (KDHS) Linksfield in 1968 as a head of department, teaching Latin and English. He became deputy head in 1969 and in 1974 headmaster – a position he held for 34 years. Jeffrey became the headmaster of King David in Victory Park. After retiring, Elliot led the King David Schools’ Foundation.

Past students paid homage to his ability to deal with children’s problems empathetically. He could remember everyone, down to the minute details of their school career and family lives. He was described as “the quintessential mensch who brought out the best in everyone and encouraged students to seize every opportunity.”

At his 80th birthday he said: “My belief is that nothing can replace a good teacher who interacts with his/her students and shares a learning experience with them. Good teaching is not only about imparting relevant subject matter, but also about providing a moral compass and the values and attitudes that will serve our students well in their future lives.”

Wolf enjoyed reading, travelling, gardening and tackling crossword puzzles. Although he never married or had children of his own, he said: “I’ve been blessed with thousands who, in return, provide me with so much pleasure and pride that I could wish for nothing better.”

Sources: South African Jewish Report, Wits Archive

Denis Kuny (1932-2021)

Unsung hero of the legal fraternity Advocate Denis Kuny (BCom 1952, LLB 1954) died in Johannesburg at the age of 89 on 25 October 2021.

Advocate Kuny shied away from the spotlight, but was pivotal in defending many anti-apartheid activists alongside the likes of Advocate George Bizos (BA 1951, LLB 1954, LLD honoris causa 1999), Lord Joel Joffe (BCom 1952, LLB 1955, honoris causa 2001) and former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson (BCom 1952, LLB 1955, honoris causa 1990).Advocate Denis Kuny

He was born in Kroonstad on 8 March in 1932, and moved to Johannesburg with his family at the age of four. He went to school in Springs, on the East Rand and considered being a medical doctor like his father, Benjamin. But after matriculating in 1948, he enrolled for a BCom at Wits and as a result of an uninspiring job shadowing experience with his accountant uncle, he decided to pursue a career in law instead.

Advocate Kuny was largely apolitical, unlike his Wits classmates and peers. He knew Lord Joffe since childhood and recalled to the Wits LRC Oral History Project in 2008: “One day we were in a lecture and a question of general interest came up for discussion, (I can’t recall what it was) and it became clear that I had no idea what was going on. And Joel turned to me and said: don’t you ever read newspapers? I suddenly became aware of the fact that I actually didn’t read much and was quite ignorant about what was happening in the ‘real world’.”

In 1957 he married Hillary Hamburger (BA 1959, MA 1984) and their first child Neil was born in 1958. The family lived in London for a year: “We had no money and no resources and so we simply took time off living in London and having a wonderful year there. It was really a critical point in our lives,” he said.

When they returned to South Africa he was admitted to bar as an advocate in February 1960. A month later came the Sharpeville massacre and his involvement in political cases began. He started by defending a host of black South Africans involved in small offences such as pass burning, demonstrations, breaching banning orders and membership of a banned organisation.

Hamburger was the secretary of the Defence and Aid Fund, and she roped him into defending PAC youngsters who had no one to defend them. Most of his cases were fought in small towns in front of aggressive judges and prosecutors. In time Advocate Kuny’s cases escalated to defending those accused of terrorism and high treason. He used his skill on cases that he believed mattered, shunning a lucrative commercial career.

In 1961 he helped Nelson Mandela pose as chauffeur to evade the security police who were scouring the country for “the Black Pimpernel”. Kuny dressed as a wealthy businessman and was chauffeur driven by Mandela to Ladysmith using Chaskalson’s car.

Advocate Kuny was involved in many high-profile political trials during the struggle era: the trial of Bram Fischer, leader of the Rivonia defence team, in which Kuny was junior counsel for the defence led by Vernon Berrangé; he defended students in the Nusas trial in 1975, among them Eddie Webster who said, “He had an eye for detail and managed to sanitise our radical ideas in a way that made them sound reasonable and perfectly sensible”; in 1976 he defended a group of 14- and 15-year-old schoolchildren in Makhanda, charged with setting their classroom alight as a form of protest; he defended Steve Biko, who was charged with defeating the ends of justice for allegedly advising witnesses in that case not to testify; in 1977 he defended Tokyo Sexwale; in 1982 he defended Barbara Hogan (BA 1977, BA Hons 1979); the same year he was part of the team that represented the family of Neil Aggett in the inquest after his torture and death in police custody; in 1986 he took over the defence of Andrew Zondo, telling the Legal Resource Centre’s Oral History Project, he “saw a death sentence sticking out a mile and didn’t want to go on with it”.

Advocate Kuny shunned the limelight. He was a talented jazz pianist. One anecdote goes that when he became a senior counsel in 1983, he took his family to a steakhouse in Johannesburg to celebrate. There was a piano there which he started playing. He looked slightly down and out. As somebody left the steakhouse he put down a R5 note saying: “I think you need it.”

He is survived by three sons: Neil, Steven (BA Hons 1982, LLB 1985) and Jonathan and his second wife Alison Scarr.

Sources: Wits LRC Oral History Project, Sunday Independent and Sunday Times

Mark Henning (1934-2021)

Mark Henning (BA Hons 1956, BEd 1963) was born on 26 March 1934 into a family of teachers and enjoyed a distinguished career spanning five decades. The third headmaster of St Stithians Boys’ College (serving from 1969 to 1988) and former national director of the Independent Schools' Council, who was deeply involved in the management and organising of private schools, died peacefully on 25 September 2021.

The former vice-president of the World Confederation of Private Education was also involved in cricket administration on national level and vice-president of the South African Cricket Association during 1977. In 1998 he was awarded the Johannesburg College of Education Rector's Gold Medal Award for “his commitment and dedicated service to education, for his professionalism and for the fine example he set to pupils and colleagues”. His father, Daniel Henning, taught at King Edward VII for more than 50 years and he embraced his educational philosophy: for harmony, not discord; tolerance, not prejudice; and love, not hate.

On his retirement, Henning took on the role of editor for Independent Education magazine for 12 years. He also remained active within educational circles, and was a member of a number of investigative government commissions into education. He published widely, notably The Case for Private Schools (Van Schaik Publishers, 1993); Growing Together, a story of schools reaching out; Zest, A Celebration of Good Schools and Good Teachers (Otterley Press, 2012); The Cross, the Sword and Mammon (Otterley Press, 2015) and Two Schools: Transformation & Diversity (Otterley Press, 2019).

Henning was described as a “gentle gentleman”, and an “engaged presence” exhibiting qualities that other teachers were inspired to emulate: inventiveness, imagination, commitment, the ability to inspire and, above all, zest. He wrote: “The more things a person is zestful about, the greater the chances of happiness.”

He was married to Sheila (nee Macaskill) who preceded him in death eight years ago shortly after their 52nd wedding anniversary. He is survived by his three children Roger (BSc Eng 1983), Peter BSc 1992, BSc Hons 1993), daughter Marion Teresa (BA 1987, LLB 1990) as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Sources: St Stithians College and Wits archive

Matthew Nell (1950-2021)

Matthew Nell (BSc Build 1972, MSc TRP 1980), a Johannesburg-born housing and development practitioner, passed away on 3 September 2021, in Johannesburg from COVID-related lung complications. He spent all 45 years of his working life focused on, not just building homes for people, but helping people to build homes for themselves.

After obtaining his Wits qualifications he completed the programme for management development at Harvard Business School in 1988.Matthew Nell

Nell’s focus was on housing and urban development, but expanded to infrastructure, municipal service delivery, youth development and job creation. His enthusiasm for work was palpable; even when problems seemed insurmountable.

He worked at the Urban Foundation (UF) from 1978 till 1992, focusing on enabling home ownership. Whilst at the UF he founded the South African Housing Company, which would become the largest developer of low-income housing in South Africa. Many of the documents from this period have been gifted back to Wits and are housed within their archives.

During the transition to democracy, Nell chaired the multiparty negotiating committee, comprising different interest groups and political parties. Their task was to negotiate the new National Housing Policy and provide assistance to the Government democratically elected in 1994. He went on to found Shisaka Development Management Services and was executive director of the business throughout the rest of his career.

His work at Shisaka included advisory services to the state (national, provincial, and local governments), multilateral aid agencies (European Commission and USAID), private and non-governmental sectors in respect to policy, strategy and programme design.

Their work helped to redefine housing and development programmes across South Africa. He led the team that implemented the Expanded Public Works Programme which provided work opportunities for many South Africans. At the time of his passing he was also the executive chairman of the South African Housing Club; the non-executive chairman of Arrowhead Properties; a non-executive director of Novo Impact Fund; and a non-executive director of Capital Plus Exchange in Chicago.

Nell’s passion for his work and contributions to the housing and development community in South Africa will be felt both through his projects and the partners and associates he inspired and enabled over the years.

Outside the office, he loved spending time with family as well as many hours on his bicycle. He and, his wife, Barbara née Tripp (BA 1975, HDPM 1978) travelled extensively, including three-month sojourns in cities around the world. His interest in the way that urban spaces worked and could provide community piqued everywhere he went.

Source: Barbara Nell

Stanley Jack Rachman (1934-2021)

Professor Emeritus in Psychology at the University of British CoIumbia Stanley “Jack” Rachman (BA 1954, BA Hons 1955, MA 1957) passed away on 2 September 2021 at the age of 87. He was internationally renowned for his work on behavioural (and later cognitive-behavioural) theories and interventions for anxiety-based disorders.

Professor Rachman was born in Johannesburg and completed his undergraduate degree at Wits. He completed his PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry at London University under the supervision of Professor Hans J Eysenck in 1961. He continued at the Institute and was involved in the pioneering studies of exposure and response prevention for obsessive compulsive disorder.

In 1982 he moved to the University of British Columbia, where he was tasked with building the clinical programme. He retired in 1999 and was also Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Psychiatry, London University.

As a prolific researcher, Rachman’s areas of focus over the years were in the anxiety disorders, fear and courage, and broadly cognitive behaviour therapy. He was best known for his work in obsessive-compulsive disorder. In addition to his many contributions in the science and practice of cognitive-behaviour therapy, he worked with and trained many of the world’s leading CBT researchers and practitioners. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received a lifetime achievement award from the British Psychological Society.

Rachman enjoyed a broad range of interests including music, politics and world history. He was a well-known oenophile and enjoyed good practical jokes. His lectures were reportedly filled with humour and scholarship. He was married to Clare Philips for more than 50 years and a dedicated father to four children and seven grandchildren.

Source: University of British Columbia

David Block (1936-2021)

One of the pioneers of Australian merchant banking, David Block (BProc 1957) died aged 85 in Sydney on 14 August 2021 after a short illness.

The Wits-trained lawyer was a trusted adviser to business and government and described as a “goliath of business”. After emigrating from South Africa in 1964, Block worked at Darling & Co before setting up David Block and Associates in 1972 and becoming a director of Lloyds when it acquired the firm in 1981.

Block also served in prominent roles as a company director – he was on the board of Corporate Social Responsibily for a decade – government adviser and with the Sydney Opera House Trust, National Gallery, Darling Harbour Authority and Australian Film Commission.

In 1975, he was involved in the review of the taxation system in Australia and was the Robert Hawke government’s “efficiency expert”. In 1987, Hawke said: “I wanted to get the toughest, leanest, meanest, most efficient bloke in the private sector and bring him into the Australian public service to undertake a series of efficiency scrutiny surveys and already David has done a brilliant job.”

He played an ambassadorial role for South Africans in Sydney and was acknowledged for his “remarkable network” and “generosity with his time, his hospitality and his intelligence”.

He is survived by his wife Naomi, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Source: Michael Pelly, Financial Review

Khalid Ismail (1939-2021)

One of the first physicians to serve underprivileged communities in Polokwane, loyal Witsie Dr Khalid Ismail (MBBCh 1963) passed away on 12 August 2021.

Dr Ismail was born in Pietersburg, as the town was known then, and when he finished high school, he was required to apply to the minister of education to study at Wits Medical School. He returned to his hometown after graduation at the height of the apartheid era and, in terms of the Group Areas Act, was not allowed to practise in town. A man known for his quiet manner, he admitted to Arena magazine in 2003 that he was disappointed and even angry about the legislation, but was also motivated to make a success of his career. He married Khadija Ismail and they had five children – all of them Wits medical graduates: Kabeer (MBBCh 1995), Khaleel (MBBCh 1994), Kuraysha (MBBCh 1997), Kaamila (MBBCh 1999) and Kareema (MBBCh 1999).

He served the communities around Pietersburg as a medical practitioner for many years and obtained an additional Bachelor of Arts degree from Unisa in 1969, MCFP in 1976 and FCP in 1980. In 1994, he took a special interest in diabetes, joined the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology’s programme and went on to earn a diploma in diabetes through Cardiff University at the age of 70.

His passion to serve others was acknowledged by the Health Professions Council of South Africa through a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. Dr Ismail travelled 60-120km daily to run satellite and primary healthcare clinics in outlying community areas such as Potgietersus, Mateba’s Kraal (Mankweng area) and Houtbosdorp (Moeketse area), and assisted the Lutheran Clinic. He distributed blankets, infant milk powder and nutritional sachets as a service to combat marasmus and kwashiorkor. He was also honoured for his firm commitment to equal education for women in the community and advocated for women to be given equal opportunities to study at tertiary institutions.

Dr Ismail was known for his refined manner and endearing personality. His family, colleagues and the communities he served remember him as a gentle and careful listener, who never lost his temper and was ever eager to learn from others.

He is survived by his wife, five children, 20 grandchildren and friends in the Polokwane community.

Sources: Ismail family, Wits archive, Health Professionals Council of South Africa

Reginald Louis Rabie (1929-2021)

Dr Reginald Louis Rabie (MBBCh 1952) passed away on the 24 July 2021 at the age of 92. After he qualified he spend six months for his internship at Vryheid Natal Hospital and then went to work at Bulawayo Hospital in the then (Rhodesia) now Zimbabwe, for 18 months. He settled in Namibia to start his own practice in Windhoek were he spent 46 years. He loved his work and patients and was devoted doctor. He also farmed and loved hunting. He is survived by his wife Louise and son William, daughter Rozelda (BSc 1992 and MBBCh 1997).

Source: The Rabie family


In Memoriam 2021 cntd

David Blumsohn (1932-2021)

Professor David Blumsohn (MBBCh 1954, DipMed 1959) was known as the “heart, soul, and pulse” of Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital where he worked for 50 years. He passed away at the age of 89 on 20 October 2021. He devoted his life to the practice of medicine almost exclusively in the public sector, serving the poorest of the poor in Soweto during and after apartheid.Professor David Blumsohn

His father, Aaron Blumsohn, emigrated to South Africa in 1924 from Lithuania at the age of 18 and married Leiba Tannenbaum. Aaron ran religious services in Belfast and Nigel and later became a shochet (qualified to slaughter meat according to Jewish law). They settled in Roodepoort and had three children Maurice, Tzilla and David.

Professor Blumsohn attended Krugersdorp High School, and completed his medical degree at Wits.

He gave unswerving and loyal service to the Department of Medicine at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital for more than five decades: initially as registrar, then as physician, senior physician, principal physician and head of one of the large medical units. After his retirement in 1997, he continued to work in the department as Honorary Professor, sharing his extensive knowledge, experience and wisdom with students, doctors and patients.

Professor Blumsohn possessed all the qualities of a great physician. He had an outstanding intellect, an encyclopedic knowledge of medicine, and an ability to inspire students. But above all, he was a humanitarian, ever-sensitive to the predicament of the downtrodden. He practiced what he preached: he treated all his patients with dignity and respect and was always available to them. He wrote a moving article for the medical students' journal, The Leech, entitled “The Pathology of Poverty” which had a major influence on the thinking of many students. He was at the forefront of a campaign at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in 1987 in which doctors from the Department of Medicine protested at the deplorable conditions patients had to endure.

Professor Blumsohn published widely in the medical literature but he has also been invited to leading cardiological and other medical institutions in North and South America as visiting professor, researcher, or teacher. He regularly received letters and gifts from the students expressing their gratitude for his teaching, philosophy, guidance and mentoring, and for showing them the importance of patient-centered medicine. He was the recipient of the PV Tobias and Convocation Award for distinguished teaching in 1996. He was definitely one of the students’ heroes and was guest speaker at the final year medical students’ ball for many years. Professor Blumsohn also held a doctorate in Semitic languages and was extremely widely read. In recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the University, its students and the community of Soweto, he was awarded a Gold Medal in 2008.

He married, June, one of Chris Hani Baragwanath’s first radiologists, who passed away many years ago. He lived in the couple’s home in Kew, Johannesburg, for about 40 years before moving to Our Parents Home about four years ago.

At his funeral, Rabbi Dr Dean Gersun described Blumsohn as “the ultimate mensch”.

“You only had to meet him for five minutes to be spellbound by his genuine love, care, kindness, and compassion,” he said, adding that he had “genuine care for his patients, for how they were, and who they were”.

Associate Professor Elise Schapkaitz (MBBCh 2002, MMed 2009), said Blumsohn, “deplored injustice and decried the indifference shown to the plight of underprivileged patients in what he would often describe as an ‘unjust world’”. She described Blumsohn as “a man for all seasons, with a fine sense of humour.

“He loved chess, music, and cricket. And everything he did, he did well. He wasn’t just a player of chess but a grand master.” She said every student at CHBAH had a card with their name written in hieroglyphics from him. He wasn’t just my mentor on how to be a good doctor, but my role model on how to be a good person,” she said.

Sources: South African Jewish Report and Wits University archive

Edwin Sturgeon (1935-2021)

In Crown Street in Barberton, the Sturgeon surname stands proudly on the signage of the local paint store, a family business that was established in 1945 when Edwin Sturgeon (CTA 1958), was still a boy. Sturgeon died in his home on 19 October 2021.

He was born in Johannesburg on 18 March 1935 and was of Scottish descent. Hisfather, George, was a survivor of the Battle of Delville Wood in 1916, as well as a co-recruiter for the third Transvaal Scottish Regiment in 1939. His mother, May, was a nursing sister.

In 1945 his family took permanent residence in Barberton, where he also attended primary school. Sturgeon studied to become a chartered accountant at the Wits. After qualifying as both a South African and English CA, he left the country and spent some time overseas. He spent time in England, Hong Kong and Japan.

He was a regular member of the Optimists side of Hong Kong Cricket Club and represented Hong Kong in hockey at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. During a long leave from the Far East, he and a friend, David Gledhill, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and explored game reserves in East Africa.

Sturgeon returned to South Africa in 1974 and joined Coca-Cola in Nelspruit, where he spent nearly 10 years. He married Opal Duncan and had two sons, Tony and George. After a short spell with Eastern Transvaal Consolidated Mines, he took over the Sturgeons building and hardware business in Barberton from his brother Bob. He ran the business for 15 years until retiring in 2000.

In 1983, while attending the Unisa School of Business Leadership, he met Gill Scott, to whom he remained devoted until her death 2013. During his retirement, a visit to Antarctica in 2001 fulfilled a long-held ambition. He spent a number of years as president of the Barberton Chamber of Business, working tirelessly for the betterment of Barberton..

Sturgeon leaves behind his sons George and Tony and two grandsons.

Source: Lowvelder

Roger Boden (1942-2021)

Professor Roger Boden (BArch 1966, PGDipTP 1973, MUD 1980, PhD 1983) died in Johannesburg on 3 October 2021 after a short illness. He was 78. He served on the academic staff at Wits for nearly 30 years, retiring as an associate professor in 2003. He was born in Johannesburg on 27 November 1942 and matriculated from St John’s College. In 1973 he married Edeltraud von Varendorff, a Wits medical graduate specialising in dermatology.

Professor Boden studied architecture at Wits graduating in 1966 but went on to graduate with a diploma in town and regional planning and a master’s in urban design. In 1989, he completed his doctorate at the University of Washington in Seattle. Professor Boden was professionally accredited in South Africa as an architect and a planner and was elected as member of the Royal Town Planning Institute.Professor Roger Boden

He began his career working as an architect before joining Rand Mines Properties where he gained valuable experience in urban planning. In 1973, the joined the then fledgling Department of Town and Regional Planning at Wits and contributed centrally to its progress. He was also active on many university committees, including campus planning and library administration. Professor Boden was passionate about urban design and about teaching, inspiring many students to develop their creative and practical skills in the field, and heading the urban design programme. He believed that good urban design could make a significant difference to the quality of human life.

Professor Boden advised the Johannesburg and Sandton town councils on matters relating to town planning and design and supported local resident associations. In his retirement, he returned to architecture, designing churches, school extensions, and private homes. He also had the opportunity to explore his interests in art, books, history, and travel. He leaves his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren.

Source: Professor Philip Harrison

Henry Edward James (1939-2021)

Respected and influential engineer Henry Edward James (BSc Eng Chem 1961, MSc Eng 1964) died on 1 October 2021 at the age of 82. He was born in Parys on 19 April 1939, and was educated at Grey College in Bloemfontein. He spent a year with Gold Fields working at Libation and Venterspost gold mines before studying chemical engineering at Wits on a Chamber of Mines bursary. He was awarded a postgraduate bursary by the Atomic Energy Board AEB after graduating, which led to an MSc degree in chemical engineering. The subject of his thesis was “The dynamic response of a packed tower to step changes in the concentration of the inlet gas for a single-phase gas and counter-current gas-liquid flow”.

In 1964, James began his professional career as a research officer with the Extraction Metallurgy Division of the AEB. It was around this time that he met the love of his life, a secretary who was employed at the National Institute for Metallurgy (NIM) Joan Barnes. She had undertaken the typing of his MSc dissertation outside working hours. The couple were married on 4 September 1965, and went on to enjoy over 50 years of married life together.

From 1965 to 1969, James was chief investigator of a collaborative project between the AEB, the Nuclear Fuels Corporation of South Africa (NUFCOR) and the French Atomic Energy Commission on the production of uranium tetrafluoride UF from South African uranium concentrates in a high temperature moving bed reactor. The project culminated in the installation of a full-scale reactor at NUFCOR works. From 1969 to 1971, Henry was chief investigator of a collaborative project between the AEB and NUFCOR on the technoeconomic feasibility of establishing a commercial plant in South Africa for the production of uranium hexafluoride.

He was responsible for assessing overseas technology for the production of uranium hexafluoride, with a view to selecting the optimum process route for South African conditions, and for gathering capital and operating cost information on complete process routes from the collection of ammonium diuranate slurry at the gold mines to the export of nuclear-grade uranium hexafluoride.

James was the author of the final feasibility report submitted to an ad hoc committee of the AEB Board and representatives of the uranium industry. In 1971, James was appointed deputy director of the Extraction Metallurgy Division of the AEB, and from 1971 to 1975 was involved in a supervisory capacity in the design, construction, and erection at Pelindaba of a large pilot plant for the production of UF, as feed material to the enrichment pilot plant of the Uranium Enrichment Corporation of South Africa.

In 1978, James was invited by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to chair a consultants panel charged with the task of writing a textbook on the extractive metallurgy of uranium. This book was published by the IAEA in 1980 under the title Significance of Mineralogy in the Development of Flowsheets for Processing Uranium Ores. The project led to the establishment of an international working group on uranium extraction under the joint aegis of the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

James played an important role in defining the objectives of the working group and, as chairman from 1978 to 1980, guided its activities during its formative years. The most significant achievement of this Working Group was the publication in 1983 of a comprehensive book on the extractive metallurgy of uranium, titled Uranium Extraction Technology.

In 1980, he was appointed a vice president of NIM, now Mintek. His duties as a member of Mintek’s top management team included responsibility for the policy aspects of manpower planning, development, and training; responsibility for safety at Mintek in terms of the Mines and Works Act and responsibility for the Technical Services Division and the newly formed Techno economics and Information Division, which undertook a wide range of projects in the area of techno economics and provided services with respect to computerised information retrieval, publishing, conference organisation, and public relations for Mintek.

James was awarded Honorary Life Fellowship of SAIMM on 23 June 1995. Colleagues appreciated for “his approach to problems and his ability for hard work. He was admired for the way in which he cared about other people, and the genuine interest he showed in so many subjects.

He is survived by his wife, two sons Marc and Darrell and grandchildren.

Source: Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

Morris James Viljoen (1940-2021)

Celebrated Wits geoscientist Professor Morris Viljoen (BSc 1961, BSc Hons 1962, Msc 1964, PhD 1970) died of COVID-19 complications on 19 August 2021. Along with his twin brother Richard (BSc 1961, BSc Hons 1962, Msc 1964, PhD 1970) he famously mapped large parts of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, which lies within the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Professor Morris Viljoen

The mapping in the southern part of the Barberton Mountains, revealed a remarkably well preserved succession of rocks which were unlike any other volcanic rock that had been described at that time.

The rocks’ very high magnesium content and distinctive texture put them in a new class of their own, and they are now recognised as an important part of the story of the early earth. They are found in the oldest segments of all the continents. Known as komatiites, they were formed when lava crystallised at a much higher temperature than other lavas, and they are associated with nickel and gold deposits.

In 1970 Viljoen joined JCI and established the geological research unit with a mandate to find new mines for the company, which involved extensive travel. He made similar contributions as a consultant for Rustenburg Platinum, the forerunner of Anglo American Platinum.

In 1990, he was appointed professor in the School of Geosciences and introduced a course in mining and environment as well as the Centre for Applied Mining and Exploration Geology (CAMEG). Through CAMEG, he played an instrumental role in the generation of many exploration targets, several of which have developed into advanced prospects and operating mines.

In 2010, Viljoen was one of the co-founders of VM Investment Company. It laid the foundation for the establishment of Bushveld Minerals and AfriTin as fully operational London Aim-listed mining companies.

Viljoen was highly respected by his peers and was a fellow of the Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA) where he served as president in 1988, the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Royal Society of South Africa. He was also the recipient of a number of awards, including the Captain Scott Medal for the best MSc thesis, the Lindgren Award from the Society of Economic Geologists in the US for excellence in economic geology research and the Draper Memorial Medal – the highest award of the GSSA. The latter two awards were made jointly with his brother Richard.

His passion for geoheritage and geotourism helped many to understand the influence of geology on nature and on human activity. He and his brother led walks in the Kruger Park, produced explanatory material about the Vredefort Dome for visitors to Parys and published a guidebook to the Barberton region.

Sources: Wits University archive and Mining Weekly

Ivor Powell (1955-2021)

Ivor Powell (BA Hons 1980) was a Kimberley-born art history and philosophy graduate who defied the restrictions of a single profession. Mercurial and described by journalist Jonathan Ancer “as one of journalism’s most charming, complicated, complex and colourful characters: dapper and dazzling Dadaist, brilliant art critic, super sleuth, sensitive Scorpion” he died five days before his 66th birthday from emphysema on 18 August 2021.

Powell’s father was an Anglican priest and his mother an assistant to Bishop Njongonkulu Ndungane in Kimberley. After completing matric in 1972, Powell moved to Cape Town and pursued a BA in English at the University of Cape Town. In 1980 he completed his BA honours and while tutoring at the university, he met artist and former lecturer in the Wits fine art department Robert Hodgins, who had a great influence on him. Between 1982 and 1987 he lectured at Unisa but also became involved in the underground art scene as a member of the neo-Dadaist collective, Possession Arts, an affiliation of artists and writers that included former arts editor of the Mail & Guardian Matthew Krouse (BA DA 1988), Joachim Schonfeldt (BA FA 1981) and Professor Mark Solms (BA Hons 1985, MA 1987, PhD 1992) who is now an accomplished neuropsychoanalyst. Their output was experimental anti-theatre. “Where it worked, it worked at the interface between meaning and anarchy, at a sometimes dangerous and visceral edge of control and loss of control, of making sense and not making sense,” Powell wrote. “At its best, you might think of Possession as a joyride in a stolen semantic vehicle.”

In 1985, he started contributing art reviews for the newly launched Weekly Mail and over the next two decades established a reputation as “one of the finest art critics in South Africa”. In 2004 he won a prestigious national journalism award for a piece of criticism published in Art South Africa. Increasingly he became more interested in political stories and morphed into a general investigative journalist. He helped the paper break important stories on the notorious Vlakplaas death squads. He moved to other publications such as The Star and the Vrye Weekblad.

In 2001 when Thabo Mbeki launched the Directorate of Special Operations (the Scorpions), Powell joined as senior investigator. In 2005 he authored a classified internal memo called the Browse-Mole report, which investigated possible sources of Jacob Zuma’s legal and political campaigns. A version of this was leaked and it made him a target of various forces in intelligence circles. In January 2008, he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, but the charges were struck from the register of Cape Town Magistrate’s Court six months later, with the local directorate for public prosecutions undecided on whether to prosecute him. The experience changed him. He took up a post at Independent Newspapers, running the company’s cadet school until 2013 and lost his appetite for political investigations. In his remaining years he preferred the company of his family, cooking, and watching cricket and soccer.

Former editor of the Mail & Guardian Nic Dawes said he was “perhaps the most brilliant critic of his generation, an investigative journalist of penetrating acumen, and a spook. Some people see a contradiction in those three careers. I think on the contrary that they were deeply linked.”

He is survived by his six children and partner Chiara Carter.

Sources: Daily Maverick, Mail & Guardian

James Stephen Mzilikazi Khumalo (1932-2021)

Professor James Stephen Mzilikazi Khumalo (PhD 1989, honoris causa) — a colossal figure in South Africa’s academic, cultural and public landscape — passed away two days after his 89th birthday. Throughout his life he remained intellectually curious and moved effortlessly across disciplines as linguist, educator, composer and humanist.

He was born on a farm owned by the Salvation Army to a deeply religious family in the Vryheid district of KwaZulu-Natal on 20 June 1932. His parents nurtured his spirituality and love for western vocal music as well as traditional African music. He was the eldest in the family of seven children, surrounded by siblings who all learned to play musical instruments. He studied music through the Royal School graded lessons and examinations.

Professor Khumalo was schooled in Durban and Soweto and in 1950, matriculated from the Salvation Army High School in Nancefield. His journalist sister Nomavenda Mathiane said: “Cramped in this tiny two-bedroomed township house life seemed a perpetual struggle. We watched our parents battle to make ends meet on a meagre church salary. However, in hindsight, those were the best times of our lives as a family. We enjoyed many evenings of song, laughter and breaking bread."

Given the realities of apartheid South Africa, Khumalo directed his ambitions towards becoming a teacher. In 1956 he graduated with a BA degree majoring in English and Zulu, and in 1972 with a BA Hons from the University of South Africa. In 1987 he attained his PhD from Wits, with his postgraduate research and writing concerned with tonology, an aspect of linguistics that focuses on the interplay between intonation and meaning in spoken language. He joined the Department of African Languages at Wits as a tutor in 1969, serving a long stint as professor of African Languages and head of the department. In these positions he made major contributions to the development and academic standing of the study of African languages. He retired from the University in 1998 but remained Emeritus Professor as an acknowledged authority in African Languages literature.

Professor Khumalo was particularly revered for his achievements in South African music as an award- winning composer, conductor and the mentor of generations of singers and musicians in the field of choral music. 1958 marked the completion of his first composition, Ma Ngificwa Ukufa, followed by the composition of more than 50 epic choral works including the internationally acclaimed uShaka kaSenzangakhona, an epic in music and poetry on Shaka, son of Senzangakhona. Other works for voice and choir such as Five African Songs included a setting of the traditional melody, Bawo Thixo Somandla, further arranged for orchestra by Peter Louis van Dijk. In 2002 he wrote Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu a work about the Zulu princess, musician and poet Princess Constance Magogo kaDinuzulu. It was the first Zulu language opera.

The national respect that Professor Khumalo commanded is attested to in the numerous national positions and honours that he held (including a “Lifetime Achievement Award” bestowed at the 2007, M-Net Literary Awards), the countless competitions and awards that he and his choirs have won, the many times he has been commissioned to compose music for major occasions, being asked to join the Anthem Committee that developed the new national anthem of South Africa, and having a piano concerto composed in his honour, Mzilikazi Emhlabeni, composed by Bongani Ndodana-Green. He received honorary doctorates from the University of South Africa, University of Zululand, Fort Hare and Stellenbosch University.

His wife of 63 years, Rose, died two days after him. They are survived by their four children and grandchildren.

Sources: Daily Maverick, Wits University archives, The Conversation

Luciano Dal Mas (1975-2021)

Luciano Dal Mas (BCom 1996, BCom Hons 1998) passed away suddenly at the age of 46, from COVID-19-related illness on 15 July 2021. Born in Johannesburg, he matriculated from King Edward VII High School in 1991 and completed a Bachelor of Commerce as well as an honours in business economics, specialising in marketing at Wits.Luciano Dal Mas

In 1997, he was awarded a post-graduate merit scholarship in business economics and won the FCB Lindsay Smithers Prize, for best honours student in the field of marketing. Dal Mas completed a Bachelor of Accounting Science with honours at the University of South Africa in 1998, and a certificate in the Theory and Practice of Auditing, at the University of Natal. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1999 and completed a master’s degree in internal audit at the University of Pretoria in 2017.

Dal Mas was invited to present his master’s research findings at the Institute of Internal Auditors Conference South Africa in 2018 and he co-authored a paper in Emerald Economics Managerial Auditing Journal. He shared plans to continue his academic achievements, by pursuing a doctorate in internal audit and hoped to, eventually, enter the academic fraternity.

Dal Mas had a passion for mostly vintage cars, and he worked for various companies in the automotive industry. He moved to Sydney in Australia for three years, where he planned to return. His warmth, integrity and down to earth nature are greatly missed by his family and colleagues. He is survived by his parents, sister Sonya (BCom 1999, BCom Hons 2000) and wife Alessandra.

Source: Sonya Dal Mas and Ralf Degni (CTA 1977, BAcc 1979)

Baldwin Ngubane (1941-2021)

Dr Baldwin "Ben" Ngubane (DPH 1982, DHSM 1983) was born on 22 October 1941 at the Inchanga Roman Catholic Mission at Camperdown in KwaZulu-Natal. He matriculated at St Francis College mission school in Mariannhill, outside Durban, and taught Latin there for two years before graduating as a doctor at the University of Natal medical school in Durban in 1971. He was active in student politics and became vice-president of the National Union of South African Students (Nusas), working with Steve Biko, who was active in Nusas at the time. He obtained a medical degree from the University of Natal in 1971. He subsequently obtained diplomas in Public Health in 1982 and Public Health Services Management in 1983 from Wits. He furthermore received a master's degree of Family Medicine (M Prax Med) from Natal Medical School in 1986 and received a postgraduate diploma in economics from the University of London in 2003. Baldwin Ben Ngubane

 While practising as a doctor he joined the Inkatha National Cultural Liberation Movement and in 1977 became a member of its central committee. In 1978 he was elected to represent the Enseleni district in the KwaZulu-Natal legislative assembly. He was active in the South African Red Cross from 1977 and represented it at international congresses in the 1980s. He was praised for his role during the devastating KwaZulu-Natal floods and received a citation from the Red Cross. He played a key role in helping to bring peace between warring factions of the IFP and ANC in the early 1990s.

In 1991 Ngubane was appointed Minister of Health in the KwaZulu government, a post he held until 1994. Between 1997 and 1999, he was elected as premier of KwaZulu-Natal, and from 1999 to 2004, the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology of the KwaZulu government. In 2004 he was appointed Ambassador to Japan until 2008.

He was appointed SABC chair in 2010 and a parliamentary inquiry heard that he acted like an executive chair, taking decisions without board approval and bowed to ministerial dictates. He was implicated in improper dealings in Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture and resigned as nonexecutive director and chair of Eskom on 12 June 2017 shortly before its annual general meeting.

In 2020 he was twice called to testify before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry in his capacities as, first, former SABC board chairperson, then, secondly, as the former chairman of Eskom.

Dr Ngubane died at the age of 79 on 12 July 2021 due to COVID-19 complications. He is survived by his wife Sheila and their children and grandchildren.

Sources: Sunday Times and Wikipedia

Navin Singh (1971-2021)

Navin Singh (MSc Eng 2010), who was head of technology at Kumba Iron Ore, died on 12 July 2021 at the age of 50. Singh was born on 14 November 1971 in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal and started his career at South Deep Gold Mine in 1996 as strata control officer, progressing to the position of chief rock engineer. In 2000 he relocated to Australia, and joined Western Mining Corporation as senior geotechnical engineer at Olympic Dam Mine in South Australia. He returned to South Africa in 2001 to take up the position of research manager for rock engineering at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and subsequently that of programme manager for mining. He served as time as new technology manager at Gold Fields Ltd, then moved to the Mine Health and Safety Council as chief research and operations officer, remaining in that position for the next six years.

Singh returned to the CSIR in 2015 as manager for mining research and development. He was involved in establishing the Mandela Mining Precinct in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology and the-then Chamber of Mines and became the co-director of the precinct for the period 2016 to 2020.

Singh served as a director on Coaltech Research Association between (2015-2020) and also of the Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (2017–2020).

He was a Fellow of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and served as a council member from 2018. He was also a Fellow of South African National Institute of Rock Engineering.

Source: Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

Chris Mann (1948-2021)

Distinguished poet, playwright and musician Professor Chris "Zithulele" Mann (BA 1971) died peacefully at his home in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape on 10 March 2021. He was diagnosed with cancer a year before.

 "Poetry has been my vocation since my teenage years; an inconsolable yearning, a craft, a moment of vision, a protest, a solace, a prayer and respite throughout the turbulence of our times," he wrote. His poems were prayerful and joyous. They reflected deeply about apartheid, nature, God and death.

The son of Norman “Tufty” Mann, the Springbok and Eastern Province cricketer, and Daphne Greenwood, an actress educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Professor Mann was born in Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) on 6 April 1948. He matriculated from Diocesan College (Bishops) in Cape Town and obtained a BA degree at Wits, an MA in English language and literature at the University of Oxford and an MA in African oral literature at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London. Following the publication of his debut poetry collection, First Poems (1979), he won several awards, including the Newdigate Prize for Poetry from Oxford, the Olive Schreiner Prize and the Thomas Pringle Award. His poems appeared in a wide range of journals, textbooks and anthologies in South Africa and abroad.

After a few years as a teacher in Swaziland, he taught at Rhodes University in the late 1970s. From 1980 to 1992 he worked in KwaZulu-Natal at the Valley Trust medical and agricultural project. It was at this time that he married his wife Julia Skeen. In 1999, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Durban-Westville in recognition of his literary accomplishments and many years of community-based work in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Owing to his quiet personality, workers at The Valley Trust nicknamed him Zithulele, the quiet one. In 2007, he was appointed Honorary Professor of Poetry at Rhodes University, primarily in recognition of his poetry but also for his founding, inspirational work in Wordfest, a national multilingual festival of South African languages and literatures.

Based at the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes University, Professor Mann was able to converse in Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa fluently. In his poem Epiphanies from his latest publication (Palimpsests, Dryad Press, 2021) he writes: “Whoever grew wise without sorrow? Whoever loved until they'd trusted enough to bleed? And who understood until they'd shivered in terror at their ignorance?” 

He leaves behind his wife and two children, Luke and Amy.

Sources: City Press, Wikipedia and Rhodes University

Moloantoa Geoff Makhubo (1968-2021)

The former mayor of Johannesburg, Moloantoa Geoff Makhubo (BCom 1992, PDM 2016, MM 2020) died on 9 July 2021 at the age of 53 from COVID-19 related complications. He was described as “a gifted technocrat” who “garnered both respect and mistrust” during his political career.

Makhubo was born in Soweto on February 1968 and become involved in politics as a teenager, joining the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) and served as the chairperson of the African National Congress Youth League. At Wits he earned a BCom degree and before graduating in 1990 he joined the Black Students Association and the then Azanian Students Organisation, which changed its name to the South African Students Congress.

He later completed a management advancement programme at Wits Business School in 1997. He also earned a certificate for leadership in local governance from the University of Cape Town. At the time of his election to mayor, he was studying for a master's degree at Wits. Makhubo was the co-president of the Metropolis Global Funds for Cities' Development FMDV. He had held senior leadership roles in the African National Congress's Greater Johannesburg Region. He was the regional treasurer before he became the regional leader in July 2018. Appointed as the caucus leader of the ANC in the city council after the resignation of Parks Tau in May 2019, he was nominated mayor following Herman Mashaba's resignation.

In December 2019 he faced allegations that his company, Molelwane Consulting, may have earned as much as R30 million in fees from a controversial contract Gupta linked firm Regiments Capital won to look after the City of Johannesburg's "sinking fund", a fund of billions of rand set aside to meet the city's future debt payments. In May 2021 Makhubo was further accused of corruption related dealings with tech giant EOH Group at the Zondo Commission.

Makhubo leaves his wife Dikeledi and two daughters.

Sources: Sunday Times and Wikipedia

Rob Legh (1962-2021)

Robert Legh (BCom 1982, LLB 1984, MBA 1994), who died at the age of 59 of COVID-19 complications on 1 July 2021, was the chair and senior partner of Bowmans, one of the country's largest corporate law firms.Robert Legh

Legh was born in Johannesburg and matriculated from St Stithians College in 1978. He enrolled at Wits on a De Beers scholarship where he was the manager of a punk rock band called Snappy Canaries.

He joined Bowmans in 1986 and became a partner in 1992. He was a multi-faceted lawyer having initially practised in various fields: commercial property, labour, general litigation, and eventually competition and mining. He was considered one of the founding fathers of competition law in South Africa and the founding partner of Bowmans’ Competition Practice in 1999, the year the Competition Act was enacted, and headed it for many years before his appointment as chair in 2014. It is internationally recognised as one of the leading competition practices on the African continent.  He worked on a number of high-profile cases over the years in relation to hostile mergers, abuse of dominance and cartel cases. He contributed to the first South African book on competition law. Legh received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Competition Law at the South African Professional Services Awards. Most recently he will be remembered as having worked during the pandemic to ensure workers without wages received help during the lockdown.

After 35 years at Bowmans his colleague Jonathan Schlosberg (BCom 1975, LLB 1976) paid tribute to him as “a fantastic and fun travelling companion and a wonderful colleague to have with you in important meetings with clients and with partners of major international law firms with whom we have very important relationships.” He writes Legh possessed “all the qualities of a leader - decency, integrity, loyalty, dedication, trustworthiness, reliability, intelligence (both intellectual and ‘street smarts’), toughness when required and thoughtfulness.”

He is survived by his wife Kathryn and children Tom and India.

Sources: Sunday Times and Bowmans

Michael Lewis (1944-2021)

Michael Lewis (MBBCh 1968, DOH 1983, DPH 1980, DHSM 1986) missed his first Wits graduation because he was backpacking in Madagascar. For him the journey was always more important than the destination.

He chose to practise medicine in the public health sector in South Africa and Dr Lewis’s journey led him to work at hospitals such as Themba near White River, Letaba near Tzaneen, Western Deep Levels near Carletonville, and Tonga near Malelane. From clinician to researcher, administrator to programme manager, he fulfilled many roles aimed at improving health services for the most disadvantaged people in South Africa.Dr Michael Lewis

Friend and human rights lawyer, Richard Spoor, describes his contribution in these words: 

"Mike was an exceptional public health doctor. The work he did for former mineworkers is legend. He kept the system of medical benefit examinations for former mineworkers going in the Lowveld for many, many years in the face of managerial indifference. Securing benefits for disabled mine workers and their widows that materially improved their and their families' lives.”

Beyond his professional life, he also served his community through Rotary International and by his involvement with various charities including Hospice and Books-in-Homes in White River.

At Wits he met his wife and soulmate who matched and supported his ideals. Marieta Stumke (BSc 1967) and Mike got married in 1969 and raised three children: Sharon (BSc 1994), Christopher (MBBCh, 1997) and Trevor (BSc Elec Eng 1997). Mike was a dedicated father and family man, sharing his interest in the world and curiosity about nature, science and geography with his children. He used each family holiday as an excuse to explore all the corners of the country. These interests are also shared by his five grandchildren who are especially happy spending time in the Kruger National Park with their grandparents.

Dr Lewis’s life was one of enquiry and learning. He completed post-graduate diplomas in Tropical Medicine (1972) at London University; and Public Health (1980); Occupational Health (1983); and Health Service Management (1986) at Wits. He loved intellectual debate, reading and challenging recreational pursuits like Bridge, Scrabble, and solving crosswords. Some of his closest friendships were forged around the Bridge table.

After returning to White River in 1997 - to settle ahead of retirement - he had a series of health set-backs. He faced each challenge bravely; and with the constant support of Marieta. From its start in a world war, Mike’s life came to an end during a global pandemic. He died peacefully at home with Marie by his side on 7 July 2021. 

He will be missed by a large circle of friends and relatives; and the memory of his warmth, wry sense of humour, curiosity and caring nature will endure.

Source: Lewis family

Robert Collins (1961-2021)

Former chief operating officer of Sun International and managing director of Tsogo Sun Robert Collins (BCom 1985, HDip TaxLaw 1989, HDip CoLaw 1991) died from complications due to COVID on 30 June 2021.

He was born and educated in Johannesburg and after graduating from Wits in 1985, he had a stint in the Navy, but was transferred to Johannesburg as their legal advisor for Inland Revenue for four years. Thereafter he joined Deloitte's where he practiced as a tax lawyer, and held the position of associate director.

In 1991, Collins changed careers and moved into the entertainment, leisure and lifestyle sector as the group tax and legal advisor for Interleisure Pty Ltd. He then joined Ster Kinekor as chief executive officer in 1993 where he also served as Chairman of Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox and Columbia in Africa, sitting on their World Wide Strategic Committees.

In 2000 he took up the challenge of joining MGM Grand SA, one of South Africa's largest black empowerment companies, as chief executive officer, and was later managing director of Tsogo Sun Gaming. He spent 14 years with Tsogo Sun before moving to Sun International in 2014 and served as Group Chief Strategy and Operations Officer until his early retirement in July 2019. Collins also served as a trustee on the Apartheid Museum Board and was trustee on the South African Hall of Fame Board and a trustee on the Marketing Achievements Council.

Source: Gaming for Africa

Professor Audrey Msimanga (1963-2021)

Professor Audrey Msimanga (PhD 2013) the head of the Wits School of Education passed away on 30 June 2021 after contracting the coronavirus. Professor Msimanga first joined Wits as a lecturer in science education in 2007, progressing to senior lecturer in the Wits School of Education. Her PhD in science education followed, as did a postgraduate certificate in education. She also served as the academic head for Postgraduate Studies in the School from 2014 to 2019 while working as a senior lecturer.

Respected by her postgraduate students, Professor Msimanga taught courses to Master of Science and Master of Education students and supervised postgraduate student research at all levels. Her own research focused on the curriculum-pedagogy interface, with the goal of understanding how science can best be taught locally in contexts of teacher and learner diversity and multilingualism. She was widely published in local and international journals and well represented at local and international conferences.

A trained ornithologist, Professor Msimanga's specialisation in science education stemmed from the grounding that she obtained through her master’s degree in zoology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, her BSc honours in biological sciences and her BSc in botany and zoology from the University of Zimbabwe. She served as a curator of ornithology at the Natural History Museum in Zimbabwe for several years and taught for five and three years at the University of Botswana and Solusi University, respectively. She also spent six years as an educator in two high schools.

Professor Msimanga served on several research and academic bodies, including as the associate editor of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching.

She firmly believed that education is a great equaliser and that a good education can open doors and provide the skills and competencies for employment or entrepreneurship. She encouraged her students to never stop learning. 

Source: Wits University

Louis Jeevanantham (1950-2021)

Star footballer turned university lecturer Louis Jeevanantham (BEd 1983, MEd 1986), affectionately known as “Lightning Lou”, died at the age of 71 on 28 June 2021.

In the 1960s, when communities of colour were uprooted by apartheid’s 1950s Group Areas Act, the story of Bluebells United FC, of which Jeevanantham was a star player, was instrumental in the nonracial sports history. Jeevanantham’s talent was noticed by Maritzburg City owner-manager Moses Ally at the age of 18. As a goal-scoring midfielder, he is remembered for his ‘’swift and striking brand of football and played alongside legends such as Bomber Chamane, Baldwin "Groovin" Malope, Jerry Sadike, Johannes "Big Boy" Kholoane, Allen Moonsamy and Meschack Nkosi.Louis Jeevanantham

He went on to make impressive strides from a local teacher to an education professor. Later, as a technical coach in South Africa, he “worked alongside Ted Dumitru, former Bafana Bafana football manager, on research, studies, technical development and designed specific football training and coaching content. He was a very skillful and intelligent player before going into academia and retiring as a professor at the University of South Africa. He strongly believed that a coaching programme had to be devised, developed and implemented with the South African experience. He conceptualised and designed a prototype of coaching modern football," said Greg Mashilo, president of SA Football Coaches Association.

“He was a passionate believer in the natural attributes and strengths of African players, and in a possession based, positive entertaining style of play. He also advocated for the local South African specificity to be reflected at all levels of players’ development, in professional clubs and national teams as a powerful and unique trend in football.”

Source: Rising Sun

Brian Goodall (1944-2021)

Brian Goodall (BA 1966), chair of the Lewis Foundation, and former leader of the opposition in the Gauteng legislature passed away at the age of 78 on 27 June 2021.

Goodall was born on 27 March 1944.  He matriculated from Jeppe High School for Boys with a first-class pass. His leadership skills were already apparent as head prefect, captain of the rowing, house athletics and cricket teams and recipient of a basket of leadership and academic prizes.  He attended three universities, graduating with a BA from the University of Natal, a first-class Honours from Wits and an MA from the University of South Africa. 

Goodall joined Standard Bank in 1966, he moved from there to ESE Financial Services and in 1970, he and two colleagues formed their own economics and financial consultancy company.  Five years later they sold out to join Syfrets Trust. 

His charm and people skills, combined with an intense aversion to the apartheid regime resulted in him winning the Edenvale Parliamentary seat for the Progressive Federal Party in 1979.  He resigned from Syfrets to pursue a full-time political career and held the seat till 1987. He retook the seat in 1989 and held it until he was elected to the provincial parliament of Gauteng as Leader of the DA Caucus and spokesperson on economic affairs.

He loved wildlife and in 2002 he joined the Lewis Foundation as a Trustee and took the helm as chair in 2010.

He is survived by his wife and their three children and grandchildren.

Source: Lewis Foundation

Richard Hewish Hunt (1939-2021)

Renowned field entomologist Professor Richard Hewish Hunt (MSc 1984, PhD 1989) passed away on 18 June 2021.

He was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1939 and began his professional career as a technician at the Bilharzia and Malaria Research Laboratory, working on epidemiological field surveys of malaria and schistosomiasis. Prof Hunt was appointed as Honorary Professor at the Wits Research Institute for Malaria and School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits from 1998, and was a consultant to the Vector Control Reference Laboratory, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, for the rest of his career.Professor Richard Hunt

He was deeply committed to his work as a disease vector biologist, geneticist and public health professional, and dedicated more than 60 years of his life to research and policy-making in this field. This extraordinary contribution includes his pioneering work in mosquito taxonomy using cytogenetic and enzyme electrophoresis methods, and he was a major contributor to the body of work that unraveled the taxonomic conundrum of the Anopheles gambiae species complex and the An. funestus species group, both of which contain major malaria vectors (and non-vectors), of the sub-Saharan African region. This work provided the foundation for later PCR-based methods of species identification in these taxa, which now underpin malaria vector operational research and control interventions in Africa.

As an extraordinary field entomologist, he spent countless hours collecting Anopheles mosquitoes from many of Africa’s most remote regions. During his career he visited most African countries at least once, and developed a particularly keen ability to find Anopheles mosquitoes using deep experience and insight. This enabled the gathering of critical surveillance information for many malaria vector control programmes, both governmental and commercial.

Professor Hunt was also a pioneer in the establishment of Anopheles mosquito laboratory colonies from wild-collected material. This is a particularly refined and laborious process that involves tireless field work followed by long hours in the insectary, and requires deep insight into mosquito ecology and behavior. Many of these studies have in turn provided critical information for malaria vector control, and have enabled the tabling of control policies based on sound evidence. An important feature of these studies has and continues to be the characterization of insecticide resistance mechanisms in vector species, and he contributed to many of these. 

Professor Hunt will be fondly remembered for his deep insight, energy, enthusiasm, innovative ideas, attention to detail, dedication to his work and to his insistence on excellence.

Source: Prof Lizette Koekemoer, Wits Research Institute For Malaria 

John Crawford (1937-2021) 

Well-known and respected physics lecturer John Lawrence Crawford (BSc 1959) died in his home on 17 June 2021, just short of his 84th birthday. Described as “an institution” who dedicated himself to first year auxiliary physics, he taught generations of students from the Health Sciences Faculty: medics, dentists, physiotherapists, nurses, occupational therapists and pharmacists. Many benefited from his guidance, delivered in a calm, patient and influential manner even after his official retirement.John Crawford

He succumbed to the cancer which manifested almost 10 years ago. He was treated at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital Oncology Unit and was always full of praise for the care he received there. “He always used to say that he was looked after far better there than he would have been at the most expensive private clinics, because there were so many staff members who knew and respected him for teaching them during their student days,” remembered a colleague.

Crawford matriculated first in class in 1954 from St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown. His teaching career followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Professor Lawrence Crawford, born in Glasgow and educated there and at Cambridge, who came to South Africa as professor of mathematics at the South African College from 1899 until 1918 when it became the University of Cape Town, where he continued until retiring in 1938.

He joined the Wits staffing complement as a graduate assistant in March 1959 until 1965 and was offered a temporary lecturer position until 1967.  According to the Physics Department, Crawford had compiled over 6 000 first year tutorial and laboratory-based questions and solutions on a main frame computer which have since been converted to an editable version for usage by academics in the School of Physics. During the 1970s there was a lack of suitable textbooks and Crawford was able to innovate by adapting physics materials for health and biological science courses. His passion for teaching was evident as he was awarded a gold medal for his outstanding service to the Faculty of Health Sciences at their 75th Anniversary in 1997. He was also nominated for the Phillip V Tobias Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995. He also acted as a moderator for the Matriculation Examination Board for physical sciences. Early in his career, he enjoyed sabbatical leave at prestigious universities including the University of Virginia, where he worked with NASA technical monitors, the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and at Cologne University in Germany. He also published in well-known journals such as Thin Solid Films, Phys Stat Solids and others. During his time at Wits he served on undergraduate committees of the Faculty of Health Sciences and was a member of the Physics Faculty Board.

Crawford lived in Parkwood and commuted to Wits by bus. He was a familiar sight on the route to Rosebank, where he walked to do his shopping. He was a great book lover and a long-term member of the Friends of the Rosebank Library. He served on the committee from its formation until his death, regularly participating as volunteer, salesperson and customer. He was an avid birdwatcher and loved wildlife, spending many holidays camping in Mozambique, in the Kruger National Park, or walking in national parks around Cape Town. 

He played a huge role as a beloved uncle to the children and grandchildren of his sister, Ann Myles of Cape Town.

Please feel free to share your memories here 

Sources: Wits School of Physics, Wits Faculty of Health Sciences, colleagues and family

Bhekizizwe Peterson (1961-2021)

One of South Africa’s foremost humanities scholars and much loved member of staff at Wits, Professor Bhekizizwe Peterson (BA Hons 1987, PhD 1997) died on 16 June 2021.

A towering intellectual, Prof Peterson was born in 1961 in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. He started his career at Wits as a junior lecturer in 1988, and progressed to full professor from 2012 to 2021. He served twice as the Head of the Department of African Literature during his career at Wits. In addition to his Wits qualifications he held a BA in Drama and African Studies from UCT, and an MA in Southern African Studies from the University of York.Bheki Peterson

Professor Peterson was an award-winning film writer and producer; a leading practitioner of working-class theatre; a literary critic and a public intellectual. He was also known for being a generous mentor to numerous young people in various spheres of the arts and academia. He easily crossed between academia and the creative arts producing high impact creative works such as feature films (Fools and Zulu Love Letter) and feature documentaries (Born into Struggle, ZwelidumileThe Battle for Johannesburg and Miners Shot Down), many of which won local and international awards.

A National Research Foundation B-rated scholar, he was acknowledged for attaining considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his research output. He was invited to serve as a John Cadbury Fellow in 1999 at Birmingham University, and as a Southern African Research Fellow at Yale University in 1993. He also participated in the Mellon Postgraduate Mentoring Scheme for several years. The recipient of a National Institute of the Humanities and Social Sciences Book Award, Professor Peterson also received a Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award, among others.

A colleague for over 30 years, Professor Isabel Hofmeyr, described him as “A systematic builder, he eschewed the limelight and would have no truck with careerism, academic vanity or posturing. For similar reasons, he was repelled by social media with its speed and superficiality, its dialogue of the deaf. He, by contrast, was an exceptional listener. For anyone who ever had a serious conversation with him, one will always remember the deep sense of being heard, seen and understood.”

Professor Peterson is survived by his wife Pat, and two children Neo (a lecturer in the Television Studies Department at Wits) and Khanyi (BMus 2019).

Sources: The Conversation, Wits University

Jabulane Mabuza (1958-2021)

Entrepreneur and business leader Dr Jabulane “Jabu” Mabuza (honoris causa 2017) passed away from COVID-19 complications on 16 June 2021 at the age of 63.

Mabuza was born on 4 February 1958 in Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga. His family was later forcibly resettled in White River and he lived with an aunt in Daveyton on the East Rand of Johannesburg. While in secondary school he was expelled for participating in the 1976 student uprising. He matriculated from Ohlange missionary school in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal and later worked as a court clerk. In 1980 he began driving taxis to raise funds for a law degree at University of the North, which he did not complete.Jabu Mabuza

Over the years, as Mabuza navigated through the worlds of business, advocacy and leadership, he distinguished himself as a man of conviction with a deep sense of commitment to South Africa. He started as a taxi driver and built a successful taxi business in Daveyton, championing  recognition for township income generators and was a founding member of the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (Fabcos) in 1988, becoming CEO in 1990.

Mabuza developed a close relationship with SA Breweries (SAB) chair Meyer Kahn, who appointed him group advancement director. This culminated in the company backing black business leaders to obtain licences for casinos in South Africa. It is how he engineered the formation of Tsogo Sun, of which he became group CEO and deputy chair of Tsogo Sun Holdings. He was on the board of Sun International and chair when he died. He spent more than nine years on the board of South African Tourism, which he chaired for six years.

Mabuza's high-profile leadership roles for the country were at Telkom and Eskom. He played a key role in the restructuring and turnaround of Telkom as its chair from 2012, serving two terms and creating a successful example of a public-private partnership, alongside CEO Sipho Maseko. President Cyril Ramaphosa turned to Mabuza in January 2018, appealing to him to intervene in the long-simmering crisis at Eskom. He resigned from the board in January 2020, having served a year longer than he had committed to.

At the height of the #FeesMustFall crisis in 2016, a group of business, academic and civil society leaders met for a weekend of talks on the higher education funding dilemma. The convener of the meeting, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke asked Mabuza to provide the institutional and logistics support for the meeting.

His role across the business and social sectors was intersectional and multidimensional. His ability to provide leadership across diverse sectors was reflected in his membership of the World Travel and Tourism Council in the UK; the Concordia Leadership Council in the US; and the Regional Business Council of the World Economic Forum, where he served as chair. He served as the president of Business Unity South Africa and chair of Business Leadership South Africa, and was an important ambassador for the country at global investment gatherings such as the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos. He took part in the B20 G20 delegation to the B20/G20 summits.

Mabuza received a number of accolades and awards during his lifetime. In 1997 he was recognised Champion of Black Economic Empowerment – Pioneer’s Award by the Black Management Forum. He was the recipient of the 2004 Impumelelo, Top 300 Empowerment Awards as the Top Black Business Personality of the Year, nominated by the Black Business Council for his contribution to transformation, job creation, and the economy and as a role model for Black Economic Empowerment.

In 2009, Mabuza was the recipient of the Onkgopotse Tiro Excellence Award in Business, in recognition of his leadership and excellence in business. In 2011, the Black Business Executive Circle presented Mabuza with the Chairman’s Award for “Black Business Leaders at the Pinnacle of Thought Leadership".  In 2013, the Minister of Tourism presented Mabuza with the Lifetime Achiever Award – The Lilizela Tourism Award, for his exceptional contribution to the tourism sector.

In July 2017 Wits conferred on him an honorary doctorate of commerce for his “leadership in business in the cause of creating a successful economy that creates a better life for all”. During his address to faculty of engineering graduates he said:  I learnt way back that winners play the cards they are dealt. They do not waste time decrying the unfortunate deck they received. I also want you to always remember that every single citizen has a sphere of influence. This is what active citizenry is made of. When we abandon our active citizenry, we get trampled. I honed my life skills, my business acumen, and my entrepreneurial edge on the job. I learnt that in business, as is in life, it is all about people. People have aspirations, have fears, have desires but more importantly people have resources talents. A final thought: as you launch into your careers out there in the real world, please dont get weighed down by populism or by pessimism. Equally dont get wrapped up in the corporate jargon. Be authentic. Be genuine. Be yourself. But above all be engaged and be relevant. Care about people. And make your impact on our country and the world a positive one.”

Sources: Sunday Times, Wits University archive, Daily Maverick

Thobile Patience Manana (1957-2021)

Thobile Patience Manana (BA Hons 1992, Cert Ed 2010), affectionately known as "Manox" or "Oprah", died on 28 June Monday at the Netcare Hospital in Krugersdorp. She grew up in Ekuvukeni in Wasbank, KwaZulu-Natal. She graduated from Sigweje Junior Secondary School and then did her PTC qualification at eMadadeni Training College. After high school she specialised in sociolinguistics, semantics, modern and traditional languages. In 2011, Manana was selected to take part in the "Leadership for Learning" at Harvard University in Massachusetts in the US. She spent the majority of her teaching time in Johannesburg at Jabulani Technical High School where she was the principal, and in 2012 implemented a turnaround strategy to move the school from 16% achievement to 66% and 88.8% the next year. Manana married Bhekisizwe Daniel Manana in 1984. An avid Christian, she enjoyed travelling and public speaking. She is survived by her husband, her two sons Sicelo Nkosinathi and Sakhile Mthokozisi, and granddaughter Thandolwethu Heather Zamacusi Manana. She will be remembered for her verve for life, saying "I don't need a billion rand to live my best life, I'm my own Oprah!"

Sources: Sowetan

Michael Cross (1952-2021)

Professor Michael Cross (MEd 1986, PhD 1994), the founding director of the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies at the University of Johannesburg died in a hospital in Johannesburg in the early hours of Sunday, 6 June 2021, after becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus.Professor Michael Cross

Previously attached to Wits as a lecturer at the Faculty of Education from 1986 till 2012, he also served in several initiatives, such as the Governance Task Team of the National Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Committee on Norms and Standards for Educators. He was involved in reviews across the continent, including the Tertiary Education Linkages Project and Finnish Aid to Developing Countries (Finland, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Bosnia, Bolivia and Nepal).

He assisted with the quality assurance of postgraduate programmes in Tanzania and Mozambique, and played an important role in programmes of the Association for African Universities, and in the development of the Rwanda Higher Education Sector Strategic Plan. He was a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Stanford and Stockholm Universities, and the University of Picardy Jules Verne. He amassed an impressive publication record and he coordinated first-rate postgraduate programmes throughout his academic career.

Professor Cross’s passion was in mentoring young researchers and he received the first award from the Association for the Development of Education in Africa in 2012 as the most Outstanding Mentor of Educational Researchers in Africa.

He was also a co-founder and co-editor of a book series on African Higher Education: Developments and Perspectives with Brill/Sense Publishers, and Higher Education Transformation with African Sun Media.

Professor Cross played a key role in post-1994 education policy development in South Africa, which he regarded as his civic duty. Integrating his intellectual skills with programmatic interventions, he systematically worked towards the promotion of education.

He is survived by his wife Albertina, daughter Eunice (BA 2001, BA Hons 2003, LLB 2003, LLM 2011) and son Michael.

Sources: Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

Professor Michael Kew (1939-2021)

On the retirement of Professor Michael Kew (MBBCh 1961, DMed 1968, PhD 1974, DSc Med 1982) in 2016 from Wits, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and former Dean at the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Thomas Bothwell, wrote: “When Mike was an intern, the senior ward sister, Stella Welsh, a great admirer of his, called him Peter Pan, and over forty years later, the title remains appropriate. Watching him hurry down a corridor, all energy and youthful drive.”

Over the years, many esteemed colleagues paid tribute to Professor Kew’s rigorous work ethic (up at 3.30am and retiring to bed at 7.00pm), which produced a formidable body of world-class research and he became an international leader in the field of hepatology and viral hepatitis research. He belonged to a rare breed of physician-scientists who had a lasting impact on clinical practice, medical education, academic discourse, the lives of students and patients and medical leadership. He died of a perforated ulcer during the last week of May 2021.

Professor Kew was born in 1939 in Johannesburg, to Max and Dorothy Kew. At an early age, he was recognised as a brilliant student. He graduated with first class honours from Jeppe High School at the age of 15 in 1955. After, he enrolled at Wits in 1956 and began the more-than-50-year career at the university.

Over time he obtained all the degrees available in his branch of the medical field. His studies at undergraduate level were distinguished by many awards, culminating in winning the Bronze Medal of the Southern Transvaal Branch of the Medical Association of South Africa for the most distinguished graduate in Medicine. After obtaining the FCP(SA) from the College of Medicine of South Africa in 1965 he was appointed to the staff of Wits’ Department of Medicine and the Johannesburg Teaching Hospitals. He began work as a physician, later becoming a principal physician and senior lecturer (1971), a consultant hepatologist (1972), professor of medicine (1978) and senior physician and physician in charge of the Liver Unit (1972), as well as a member of the SA Medical Research Council (1997). He was inducted as a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London (MRCP) in 1971, followed by his election as a fellow of the Royal College (FRCP) in 1979.

Professor Kew's initial academic and research studies were on a broad spectrum of liver diseases including viral hepatitis, drug-induced liver disease, portal hypertension, haemosiderosis, heatstroke and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In a series of studies, Professor Kew mapped out the close association of HCC with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, the integration of HBV DNA into the tumour cells, the contributing factors of age, sex, iron status and environmental factors in the progression of HCC, thereby establishing himself as the foremost authority on this significant tumour. Colleagues attest that he was an epidemiologist, pathologist, cell biologist and clinician on HCC. “He brought a freshness and excitement to the topic”.

He participated in the WHO expert committee, given the task of recommending the final steps needed for the total eradication of the smallpox virus. Among the group of physicians who took care of former president Nelson Mandela, he was the first clinical scientist in South Africa to achieve a National Research Foundation A1 rating.

Outside of medicine, he had a black belt in karate and taught at Joe Robinson’s studio to pay for his undergraduate training. He was an accomplished cyclist and played squash at provincial level. He was an avid reader with a special interest in grammar and also single-handedly constructed an extra bathroom in his home.

After retiring from the University of the Witwatersrand, Prof Kew took up a research post at the University of Cape Town. Both the South African Medical Journal and the Gasteroenerology Foundation published festschrifts  in his honour in 2018 as “physician-scientist, teacher and role model extraordinaire”.

Sources: SAMJ and Wits University archive

Clare Walker (1947-2021)

Clare Walker (BA 1968), the former Deputy University Librarian at the Wartenweiler Library, passed away on 24 May 2021. Walker retired from Wits in April 2010. One of her lasting contributions to the University is the electronic classroom and the Library Education and Training Unit that currently plays a key role in the transition to digital teaching and learning. In her retirement she took up a role as an Honorary Research Fellow, enabling her to write a history of the Wits libraries.Clare Walker

She was the only child of medical doctors and grew up in Forest Town in Johannesburg.

Kathy Munro (BA 1967, Honorary Associate Professor), who met Walker as a student at Wits paid tribute to her saying: “She was the person who oiled the wheels of the library and solved problems, big and small. Clare was approachable and kind despite the exterior appearance of being somewhat formidable. She was a highly intelligent person who had a wonderful, broad grasp of what a University library should be. She aspired to make the Wits library system the best possible.

“She was one of very few librarians I ever encountered who had a genuine passion for books on their own terms. Clare wanted to open up the books and find out what was inside. Her knowledge of books was wide and she was always curious. She was often irreverent and had a great sense of fun. She had a quick brain and was dismissive of those above her in the hierarchy and those below her who she felt did not meet her own high standards, but she also grew younger staff into confident professionals. She was a good teacher of librarianship and wanted to pass on her knowledge and skills.  

“Clare worked for the good of Wits – I remember joining her on the day before Christmas to give a special tour of the Wartenweiler Library to the family of the architect Monty Bryer who had flown in from Canada. She was a leading player for many years in the professional librarianship body.

"Wits University was bred in her blood. She was a woman of character and spunk.” 

The University's statement read: “Across the profession and the country, she will be remembered for her professional advocacy role as attested to by the many professionals who went through her training programmes.”

She leaves behind her family and companion Elizabeth Robertson who said: “She derived her support from her lively objection to the pompous or authoritarian. Her steady judgement made her not too impressed by the self-important. She tended to laugh at the over-serious people.”

Other tributes and access to her memorial service, organised by the Library and Information Association of South Africa, can be found here

Sources: Wits University, Kathy Munro and LIASA

Beorn Cloete Uys (1929-2021)

Dr Beorn Cloete Uys (MBBCh 1952) was born in Amersfoort at the start of the Great Depression. His father, Adriaan Uys, was a paediatrician who trained in Holland and his mother, Edna, was an educator.Dr Beorn Uys

He matriculated with distinction in 1946 at Parktown Boys' High, earned his medical degree in 1952 and was awarded the Abelheim Prize for obstetrics, as well as the Horace Wells Medal in anaesthetics. During the holidays, Dr Uys spent time learning nursing skills at Addington Hospital. This was an experience that shaped him to value nursing and nurses. He completed postgraduate training at Johannesburg General, Baragwanath, Queen Victoria and Edenvale hospitals.

In 1955, Dr Uys left for England with his new bride Midge, a midwife. He spent three years at St Mary's in Manchester, and in the Canterbury and Isle of Thanet Group in Kent. He gained his MRCOG in 1958, and completed his training at King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban. He entered private practice in 1961 with Dela de la Hunt, and was joined later by Louis Coetzee. In 1968, while working at Marymount Maternity Home, Dr Uys was approached to build a new maternity home. This subsequently gave birth to the construction of the Sandton Clinic in 1975. After 25 years of practising in Johannesburg, he semiretired to East London, heading up the maternity unit at Frere Hospital and was appointed honorary senior lecturer.

He was a committed member of SAMA since 1959, serving as branch councillor in Border Coastal branch BCB for 14 years, and branch president in 1993. Dr Uys wrote two books: The History of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in South Africa and the History of the South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

He was described as “a humble man of science and history, a teacher, a philosopher and a dedicated husband and father”.

He is survived by his wife and four children, Amanda, Chris, Gus and Sue, and his five grandchildren.

Source: SAMJ

Robert Scholes (1957-2021)

World renowned systems ecologist, Professor Robert Scholes (BSc 1978, BSc Hons 1979, PhD 1988), who was Distinguished Professor of Systems Ecology and Director of the Global Change and Sustainability Research Institute at Wits, died in Namibia while hiking with friends on 28 April 2021.  

Professor Scholes was named one of the most highly cited scientists in 2020 – he was among the top 1% of environmental scientists in the world based on citation frequency, having published widely in the fields of savannah ecology, global change, and earth observation.

He specialised in botany, zoology and ecology at Wits and completed a diploma in datametrics at the University of South Africa. After four years at Ntoma Wildlife as a research ecologist, Professor Scholes spent a year as a post-doctoral fellow at North Carolina State University before taking up the post of research officer at Wits. He held an A-rating from the NRF and served on the Technical Steering Committee of the South African Environmental Observatory Network.

He was a systems ecologist, adopting a holistic approach to the study of ecological systems, which he loved for their complexity. “Don't throw out complexity because it reveals things about how the system has to put all the pieces together to allow it to function,” he would say.

Professor Scholes’s research provided a new measure called the Biodiversity Intactness Index. This has been adopted as one of the metrics used globally. Sorting out the complex energy and water balances that sustain one of the world’s biggest and most important ecosystems, the savannahs that dominate Africa, engaged him for 30 years.Professor Bob Scholes

Professor Scholes was a lead author on numerous assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which provided a clear scientific view about climate change, as well as the likely environmental and socioeconomic impacts to policymakers. His work on the IPCC assessment processes led to his appointment in 2004 as co-chair of a working group which produced the groundbreaking Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA).

“The MA did for the rest of the global environmental issues such as biodiversity loss, overfishing the oceans and desertification, what the IPCC does for climate change,” he said.

The study, which led to a permanent assessment body being set up, showed that people’s wellbeing depended on functioning ecosystems. It monitors biodiversity change and his research showed measuring biodiversity loss could be made simple in a “rigorous way”.

Professor Scholes’s work provided the evidence which underpinned the new global concept of natural, as opposed to financial, capital. He said natural capital showed that the economic benefits which people derived from ecosystems amounted to trillions of dollars worldwide, arguably equal to or greater than the financial capital usually considered as a metric of wellbeing.

His work in the field of ecology, particularly in the areas of climate change, global biodiversity loss and land degradation, garnered considerable international recognition including the NASA Group Achievement Award. Over the course of his career, he authored and co-authored numerous books and book chapters and his articles appeared in various prestigious journals including Nature and Bioscience. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, a Fellow of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and, in 2014, was elected an International Member of the US National Academy of Science.

He was as interested in and very well-informed on a wide variety of topics. He was handy with tools and installed solar panels on his Johannesburg home and took it off the power grid. He was an excellent cook and for 22 years between Christmas and New Year he was chef at the Olive Branch restaurant in Prince Albert.

His wife, Professor Mary Scholes (BSc 1978, BSc Hons 1980, PhD 1988), whom he met at Wits in a botany class, said: “Our life was full of fun and glory” adding that her husband died as he would have wished “with his boots on, peacefully under the shade of a Mopani tree”.

He is survived by his wife and son Stirling (BSc 2018, BSc Hons 2019, MSc 2020), who is doing a PhD in physics at the University of Edinburgh.

Sources: Wits University, Sunday Times and IPCC

George Nisbet (1923-2021)

Former vice president of the Chamber of Mines and executive director and director at JCI and Anglo American George Nisbet (BSc Eng 1949) died on 5 January 2021.

He was born in Benoni in 1923 and was educated at Pretoria Boys High and earned a BSc mining engineering degree from Wits. His studies were interrupted when he joined the South African Artillery in 1949, serving in North Africa and in the Italian campaign. He returned to Wits in 1946 and, upon graduation he was awarded the Chamber of Mines Research Scholarship and Gold Medal.

In 1949 Nisbet joined South African Lands and, after a two-and-a-half-year spell there, he spent part of 1952 studying mines and mining methods in Australia in terms of the Chamber of Mines’ Research Scholarship. He returned to South Africa to work on a small diamond mine Star Diamonds. He spent two years on the mine, eventually becoming manager, but a slump in the diamond market led him to return to gold mining, and at the beginning of 1954 he joined Free State Geduld Mine in Welkom.

Nisbet became a consulting engineer of the Anglo American Corporation in 1972, and a deputy managing director of the Gold Division in 1974. He joined JCI in October 1980, and was appointed an executive director in 1981 and chairman and managing director of its Gold and Uranium Division in January 1982.

He was chairman of the Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company, Witwatersrand, Limited, Western Areas Gold Mining Company Limited, and Elsburg Gold Mining Company Limited, and a director of a number of other companies. In 1981 he was appointed to the Council of the Chamber and the Executive Committee. He was a member of the Gold Producers’ Committee since January 1978 and a member of the Board of the Nuclear Fuels Corporation. He was Chairman of the Gold Mine Museum's Operating Committee from its inception until February 1982, and played a major part in the formation of the Museum. Nisbet was a Fellow of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, and of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. In August 1981, he was elected President of the South African Institute.

He was a self-taught naturalist and leaves behind his wife, Cherry, two children Jennifer (BSc 1975) and Robert (BCom 1979, PDCom 1981) and grandchildren.

Source: Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy


Obituaries 2021

George Leveque Dehlen (1936-2021)

Dr George Dehlen (BSc 1956, MSc 1958) died on 27 April 2021, a few weeks after his 85th birthday.

His friends and professional colleagues described him as "a real gentleman", "never flustered", "always courteous and soft spoken", "an enormous intellect", "always willing to listen and help", "in total control of his emotions”.

Dr Dehlen was born in 1936 in Delmas on the East Rand and attended junior and high school in Nigel. He had an extraordinary interest in the outdoors and nature, being a keen birdwatcher, a member of the Mountain Club of South Africa, and interested in photography and astronomy.

Most of Dr Dehlen’s professional life was devoted to roads and transport research, and in his early career he was regarded as the top, and most knowledgeable, pavement design engineer in South Africa, in addition to having a high international standing. In his early professional years he laid the foundations and postulated the theory for the rational design of road pavements. Together with Dr Tony Williams, he established the first road soil mechanics laboratory at the Road Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. His achievements in the field of transportation engineering include some world firsts, as a former colleague Dr Emil Horak recalls:George Dehlen

"The impact of George Dehlen on my career is profound. I remember him as one of the friendly faces even during my undergraduate studies as a bursar student, making sure we were well mentored in the darker art of research. For me, the most enduring link with George is the international reference to the “Dehlen Curvature Meter”. The Dehlen Curvature Meter was developed by him to measure the curvature or radius of a portion of a circle directly under a loaded wheel on a flexible pavement. It is still used as a criterion with more modern deflection measuring devices in evaluating the structural response of the upper portion of a base and asphalt surfacing.

“Professor Carl Monismith at the Berkeley Department of Civil Engineering still rates him as one of the best researchers and students that went through the hallowed halls of the Berkeley School of Engineering. That is after a similar stellar academic record at the University of the Witwatersrand for his first degrees. When I arrived at Berkeley in 1983 to do a Masters in transportation engineering, I was awed by the reference to George Dehlen with professors implying, ‘Oh you will do well because we know people from South Africa like George Dehlen did very well here.’ Prof Monismith indicated that George's PhD thesis was the best of all of his hundreds of students over more than five decades and, in fact, was the only thesis that he still kept on his bookshelf at home.

"A lot of the work George did centred around policy development, support and guidance to the then national Department of Transport, the various provincial roads departments and metropolitan municipal authorities that slowly woke up to the broader concept of transportation and traffic engineering.

“When I arrived at the University of Pretoria's Department of Civil Engineering in 1998, he was still involved as an Honorary Professor, helping our department and continuing his mentorship role with distinction in his typical, quite unassuming manner, but with major impact on people around him."

Dr Dehlen is survived by his three children.

Source: Malcolm Mitchell in Civil Engineering magazine

Ian Graham Shapiro (1951-2021)

Ian Shapiro (BCom 1973, LLB 1975) was the third of the Shapiro brothers to graduate from Wits in the 1970s, the others being Harold (BCom 1967, CTA 1970) and David (BCom 1969, CTA 1971).

Ian spent an idyllic childhood growing up in “baby-boomer” Greenside where neighbouring children would join the four Shapiro boys (Eric was the youngest brother) on their front lawn to play World Cup Soccer or Test Match Cricket depending on the season. Ian’s future wife, Anna Louise (Tatz), with whom he shared 38 years of marriage, lived only a few houses away in Mowbray Road.

Unlike his three brothers who joined their legendary father, Archie, in stockbroking, Ian chose to go into law. He joined I Mendelow and Browde in 1977, becoming a partner in 1981, and remained with the firm in its numerous guises until he joined Fluxmans in 2012.

While Ian was recognised as an outstanding attorney with several of his litigation matters reported in South African Law Reports, his colleagues and clients remarked on his calm, soft spoken, and dignified manner in both his personal and business dealings. “Ian was the epitome of what it means to be a true Mensch”, said one of the partners. His personal assistant of 28 years said, “Ian was liked and respected by everyone, especially his clients, who he was committed to”. Ian never had a bad word to say about anyone, and no one ever said a bad word about him.  He was always truly interested in everyone he came into contact with and cared about them.  It was said about him that “he made people feel seen”.

In 1991, Ian was instrumental in causing an amendment to the Divorce Act regarding religious and civil divorce proceedings and, in 2001, he won a major divorce case resulting in the ruling becoming law.  The biggest litigation case of his career and one of the biggest wins for his firm was the November 2010, ground-breaking Constitutional Court matter, “Bengwenyama Minerals (Pty) Ltd and Others v Genorah Resources and Others”. Ian successfully represented the Bengwenyama community in the case which concerned administrative fairness on the allocation of prospecting rights. The case was widely reported both locally and internationally.Ian Shapiro

Ian was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Together with his beloved wife, Anna Louise, he loved nothing more than to be with his three sons, Daniel, Joshua, and Ilan, two daughters-in-law and six grandchildren. Their house was always open and exuded a warmth reflecting their harmonious love of family. Ian maintained regular contact with his brothers and their families and his devotion for the wider family was evidenced in his maintenance of a comprehensive Shapiro “family tree” which required him delving deep all over the world to gather the necessary lineage information.

Ian’s becalmed demeaner could change when his beloved Arsenal football team performed badly. His love of Arsenal was a Shapiro family trait passed down from his father who began following the “Gunners” in the 1930s. Ian’s passion for Arsenal was appreciated by family as well as work colleagues who commented that each Monday they loved to share stories and gain Ian’s comprehensive knowledge of Arsenal’s performance and the weekend’s Premier League results.

Ian had a disarming, dimpled smile and an understated sense of humour.  He loved alternate humour like that of Spike Milligan and would himself compose limericks and poems. One of his poems about Arsenal F.C was published in their supporters’ magazine.

In 1976, Ian was one of the earliest students to study at the Ohr Sameach Yeshiva (Seminary) in Jerusalem. Since then, Ian, as a devout Jew, immersed himself in study of the Torah. He was a dedicated member of the Maharsha Synagogue in Fairmount. For 35 unbroken years, he attended evening Torah study sessions (Shiurim) twice a week with a group near his home. He was recognised by the group as an outstanding and enquiring Torah scholar. 

Ian had an amazing organised mind and was extremely methodical in everything he did whether it was his music, photography, or stamp collections. His taste in music was eclectic ranging from classics to jazz, the Beatles and Bob Dylan. He had a really huge collection of CDs methodically stored and catalogued. In 2019, Ian took off a few days to fly to São Paulo just to attend a Paul McCartney concert. Despite being mugged he said it was worth every cent. From the early days following Bob Dylan, Ian took up the harmonica which he loved playing at family and work functions.

Ian was a very keen and able photographer taking a vast number of family pictures as well on his and Anna Louise’s numerous overseas trips. In his methodical way, he kept a note book each day detailing the places they had visited so that when the pictures were printed and being placed into albums, he was able to provide the precise commentary for each picture.

Ian was an outstanding sportsman. At Greenside High School, he was awarded his cricket colours and selected for Nuffield trials. At Wits, he played soccer including intervarsity tournaments and games for the first team in the National Football League. He was also a very capable tennis and squash player.

Ian’s untimely passing in January as a result of complications from COVID-19 robbed him and his immediate family of the many years he would have been there as a devoted husband, father and grandfather, his brothers and their families of a kind and compassionate family member, and the broader world of a caring soul who still had so much to offer.

SourcesHarold Shapiro and family

Keith Beavon (1937-2021)

Professor Emeritus Keith Beavon (BSc 1959, MSc 1967, PhD 1975) died on 16 April 2021 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. His contribution to South African geography was especially significant in urban geography: on record, he produced 53 papers (mostly in 19 refereed journals), 36 conference papers and eight urban reports. His work is referenced in at least 15 books. He edited a number of professional journals and monographs.  Beyond these formal academic achievements, he generously responded to public requests for extra-mural lectures and public lectures.

His teaching career included lectureships at the University of Swansea, Rhodes University, and the Universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Pretoria. For six years after his retirement, he agreed to offer courses at all of the South African universities mentioned.Professor Keith Beavon

Appropriately, Professor Beavon was elected Fellow of the Society of South African Geographers Society.  His awards included a University of the Witwatersrand overseas fellowship (University of Sheffield), a British Council study award, a British Academy visiting professorship (University of Keele), and a New York University visiting scholarship. Between 1977 and 1998 he was the Professor of Human Geography at Wits.  When he retired from that post he became professor and head of geography at the University of Pretoria (1999-2005). At the end of his teaching career, the titles of Professor Emeritus were conferred upon him by both the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Pretoria.

The extent and quality of his leadership in tertiary education may be measured by his having the rare distinction of having been the Dean of the Faculties of Education and of Arts at Wits.

Throughout his career as teacher, researcher and writer he served as a member (and often as chair) of numerous university administrative committees involved with appointments, finance, libraries, research, planning, awards, degrees, discipline, computer applications, Earth Sciences and Social Sciences.

Where was his prime focus? For those who knew him and worked with him, it was undoubtedly on his own department, its staff and its students.  He demanded high standards, but he made provision for his students to have fun, too.  

One past student (of the 1970s), on hearing of his death, wrote of the department under his leadership as “the wonderful years spent watching and learning from you all at Wits, and benefiting from your intellectual and social generosity. I know others who reflect on that golden period in our lives with such pleasure and gratitude.”  Another past student (of the 1980s) recorded that “It is the passing of a giant; one of the greatest minds I have ever come across. Keith was a man of acute wit, vibrant energy, and a hunger for knowledge and insight: a rare breed. He will be sorely missed.”

Source: John Earle

Anthony Keith Hedley (1943-2021)

Dr Anthony Keith Hedley (MBBCh 1968) was born on 2 October 1943 in Durban, South Africa and passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his wife and children on 19 April 2021.

He was an orthopeadic surgeon, author, researcher, and educator specialising in joint reconstruction and replacement. He received his medical degree from Wits in 1968. In 1977 he received his registration as specialist orthopaedic surgeon from the South African Medical and Dental Council.Anthony Hedley

He said, in a 2020 interview with Kevin Brown in the Journal of Orthopaedic Experience and Innovation, “I went to the military after high school and before med school and I made a decision during those months that South Africa was not going to be my permanent home. I was not a fan of apartheid and eventually, I decided to take advantage of the system and do med school, which I did in Johannesburg and it was very good. It was a very solid good education and I learned a lot, obviously. My dad was an engineer both civil and mechanical. So, I guess the inventiveness stems from there.” 

He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. He completed his fellowship in orthopaedic surgery at St Thomas Hospital, London, and his postdoctoral studies in orthopaedic Surgery and Bio-Engineering at the University of California in Los Angeles. In 1982 he moved to Phoenix, Arizona and joined the Institute for Bone and Joint Disorders later developing the Hedley orthopaedic Institute. He performed thousands of hip and knee replacements until his retirement in 2020. He was known as the “doctor’s doctor” and listed among the “Best Doctors in America” since its inception in 1992. He was a master technician and loved by his patients for his kindness and compassion.

Dr Hedley was an avid fisherman, hunter and bird watcher. He held three world record fish catches. He loved reading and his daily crossword puzzles. He loved spending time with his family in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico and Soldotna in Alaska, where they fished together on the Kenai.

He is survived by two adult children from a prior marriage, Damian and Lisa, his three grandchildren, his wife of 20 years, Jennifer, and their three children.

Read an interview on 27 July 2020 with Dr Anthony Hedley here:

Sources: Journal of Orthopaedic Experience & Innovation and Daily Independent

Graeme Bloch (1956-2021)

Democratic struggle stalwart, educationalist and activist Graeme Bloch (MA 2011) died at Constantiaberg Hospital on the morning of 9 April 2021. He had an uncommon brain disorder affecting his movement and developed progressive palsy seven years after his diagnosis in 2015.

Bloch was the second of seven children born to Rosalie and Cecil Bloch. His late father was a professor of plastic surgery at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and his mother was an attorney and member of the Black Sash, the Women’s Peace Movement and the Detainees Parents Support Committee in the 1970s and 1980s. Bloch matriculated from Westerford High School and continued further studies at UCT. He kept up the family tradition by fighting for a non-racial South Africa and he was among those who led the formation of the End Conscription Campaign. As a member of the United DGraeme Blochemocratic Front (UDF), he was detained and arrested numerous times for his involvement in the democratic movement. He was banned from 1976-81.

In 1990 Bloch married fellow activist Cheryl Carolus and in 1998 Carolus was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve as high commissioner to the UK, and they lived in London until 2001.

Bloch was a former visiting adjunct Professor at University of the Witwatersrand Public and Development Management school (P&DM) and a senior researcher at MISTRA (Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection). He was Development Bank of Southern Africa education policy analyst. He taught in the education faculty at the University of the Western Cape, and was project manager for youth development at the Joint Education Trust. He also worked as head of Social Development in the Department of Welfare, and as Director of Social Development in the Joburg Metro. A graduate of the University of Cape Town where he specialised in economic history, in 2011 he attained his second MA from Wits, in creative writing. He was a member of UCT Council, served as director on Lafarge Education Trust, was on the Board of Equal Education, the Advisory Board of Elma Philanthropies, the advisory council of PUKU Children’s Literature Foundation and a patron of Bitou10 in Plettenberg Bay.

Bloch wrote and published widely, in particular on education, in both academic and more popular publications. His recent books include Investment Choices for South African Education (edited with Chisholm, Fleisch and Mabizela: Wits University Press, 2008); Education, Growth, Aid and Development (edited with Chisholm and Fleisch: Hong Kong, 2008); The Toxic Mix: What is wrong with South Africa’s schools and how to fix it’ (Tafelberg, 2009).

The Western Cape Students Congress wrote in a tribute that he was “a soft-spoken and gentle soul who provided us with a kind of mentorship that was firm and decisive yet never demanding. He didn’t only care about us and our wellbeing, he consciously and patiently went on to shape our lives, not wavering from this commitment he made to us.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said: “Today we mourn because a humble son of the soil and an educationist of note has departed. We’ve truly lost one of the finest cadres of our times; I knew he was unwell but as faithful social beings, I had hoped that he would recover.”

Bloch's brother, Lance, described him as a man of courage and a true renaissance man. "They could break his bones, torture him in all kinds of ways, including making him stand for 48 hours at a time during interrogation, but they never broke his spirit."

He is survived by his wife Cheryl and siblings.

Sources: Daily Maverick, Business Day and EWN

Bernard Levinson (1926-2021)

World-renowned psychiatrist and sex therapy pioneer Dr Bernard Levinson (MBBCh 1951, Dip Psych Med 1959, PhD 1970) died at the age of 94 on 1 April 2021.

He influenced a generation of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who idolised him for his willingness to challenge mainstream assumptions. He was ahead of his time and was able to talk frankly about sexuality and embrace diversity.

Dr Levinson was born on 5 May 1926 in Johannesburg to a land surveyor father from Argentina and a Russian mother. They emigrated to Chicago, United States after he was born and rendered destitute by the Great Depression. The only job his father could get was tapping pipes to stop them freezing in the winter. They lived on peanut butter and Dr Levinson had to sleep on chairs.

They returned to South Africa when he was 14 and he attended King Edward VII High School. His first medical experience came when he was 17 and serving as a medical orderly on the hospital ship in the Mediterranean in the last two years of World War II.Dr Bernard Levinson

After graduating from Wits in 1951, he was a GP in Battersea in London, and in False Bay, Cape Town, until 1958, when he returned to Johannesburg and joined Tara Psychiatric Hospital as a registrar. He qualified as a psychiatrist in 1960 and was a part-time lecturer in the department of psychiatry at Wits from 1960 to 1980, lecturing on various aspects of general psychiatry.

From 1965 to 1975 he was the director of the Alpha House Family Centre, a 20-bed unit catering for adolescents who were drug-dependent. In this role he toured and lectured in adolescent rehabilitation centres in Canada, the US, England and Israel.

He trained in art in the 1970s under renowned artist, Pino Cattaneo and said in an interview in 2010: “I have a theory about why medical graduates make art. Ours is the only faculty where, early on, you are pushed to use your right brain – the intuitive, speculative, lateral side. This is changing because of the gallop of technology into medicine.” He used art therapy in his psychiatry and published a trilogy on it called Waiting on the Edge.

In 1979, he was approached by a team of lawyers responsible for defending a man who had been condemned to death. The Hanging Machine (Premier Book Publishers, 1990) grew out of his meetings with the condemned man and his observation of the man’s increasing fear as the day of his execution drew closer.

In 1980 he began practising exclusively as a sexologist and lectured the topic at Wits until 1995. He was one of the first psychiatrists to take seriously people who felt they were the wrong gender.

He pioneered the use of radio as an educational tool in the field of sexology. He started the first sex chat show for Capital Radio in 1975, presented a show for Radio 702 and Metro Radio, and ran his own radio programme, Aspects of Loving, for Radio Today.

He was the founding president of The South African Sexological Society, editor of the South African Sex Journal for 10 years and editor-in-chief of the Sexology Journal of Africa for 15 years. He published more than 50 articles on the subject of sexology and wrote five books on it, including Learning to Love (Jonathan Ball, 1984), which became a textbook at the Sex Therapy Clinic of Loyola University in Chicago, The Complete Runners Guide to Sex (Southern, 1988), Sexual Secrets (Rebel ePublishers, 2013), The A to Z of Sex and The History of Sexology. He also wrote a booklet published by Pfizer Laboratories in multiple languages called A User’s Manual for the Penis which was distributed worldwide.

A well-travelled storyteller and poet with an insatiable curiosity, Dr Levinson tried his hand at many things. He started tai chi when at the age of 50 and learning jazz saxophone when he was 85. Until his early 90s, when he was diagnosed with colon cancer, he never missed a Saturday morning lesson if he could help it. He read audio books for the blind for 20 years and stopped practising as a psychiatrist when he was 90.

Dr Levinson is survived by his second wife, painter Sheila Jarzin and three daughters, who kindly submitted this poem he wrote in 2020:

I keep looking
for my obituary
in the Wits Review.
A paragraph?
An entire page?
Will anyone smile
at my age?
This for sure
when life demands
so be it –
I’m not dying to see it…
(from Collected Poems, Hands-On Books, 2020) 

Sources: Chris Barron, Sunday Times and Wits archives

Christof Heyns (1959-2021)

On 28 March 2021, respected Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria (UP), Professor Christof Heyns (PhD 1992), died of a heart attack while walking in the mountains at Stellenbosch.Professor Christof Heyns

Professor Heyns also previously directed the Centre for Human Rights and was the Dean of the Faculty of Law for a four-year period. He engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa and internationally. In a tribute to him, the centre said his “enthusiasm for life, his dedication as a University of Pretoria Law academic, his national and international contributions, influence and work are unequalled”. 

In 2020, Professor Heyns played an instrumental role in the drafting of the General Comment 37 (2020) of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which offers global guidance on peaceful assembly.  As an expert in human rights law at UP Law, Professor Heyns was the rapporteur (main drafter) of the committee that published the General Comment in July 2020. He worked with colleagues and students involved in the Freedom from Violence project. Professor Heyns made a presentation alongside Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, at the UN General Assembly event about peaceful assembly. He also managed the drafting of another document with the Office of the High Commission of Human Rights, which is called the UN Human Rights Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons, which was also released in July 2020. These two documents summarised and restated the international law standards and UN standards on peaceful assembly. 

Professor Heyns has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. In August 2010 he was appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and in 2017 he was the South African candidate for election to the UN Rights Committee, the treaty monitoring body of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, starting in 2017.

Professor Heyns was also one of three experts appointed to conduct the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi and served as its chair.  He held a Humboldt Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, and a Fulbright Fellowship at the Human Rights Programme at Harvard Law School.  He served on the editorial boards of academic journals in South Africa, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Brazil, Uganda, Turkey and Costa Rica.

Professor Heyns held the degrees BLC, LLB, BA (Hons) and MA (Philosophy) cum laude from the University of Pretoria, a Master’s of Law from Yale Law School (where he was a Fulbright Scholar); and a PhD degree on the history and legal aspects of the non-violent part of the struggle against racial domination in South Africa from Wits.

He is survived by his wife Fearika, son Adam, two daughters Willemien and Renée, mother Renée and grandson Isak Rust.

Sources: University of Pretoria and Daily Maverick

Ebrahim Kharsany (1944-2021)

Chief executive and founder of the Islamic Bank Limited Ebrahim Kharsany (MBA, MCom 1971) died on 6 March 2021. He was one of 14 to receive the first degrees of Master of Business Administration awarded by the university in 1971. He was the only student of colour, and only Muslim, on the course, His classmates called him ‘Mickey,’ and on occasional site visits to companies, he was asked to dine separately from other students, whereupon the entire class declined lunch in support of himEbrahim Kharsany.

Known as an activist and astute businessman he described how difficult it was finding any meaningful employment as the predominantly white corporate business sector would not employ people of colour in senior management positions. 

After spending a few years in the life assurance industry he established his own company which over several years lobbied the South African Reserve Bank for a banking license. His application was approved in September 1988 and he established South Africa’s first Islamic Bank. Kharsany was appointed head of the Small Business Initiative, which advocated support for small business and the abolition of restrictive trade legislation as part of the Old Mutual/Nedbank scenarios between 1992 and 1993.

In 1997 he made a submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, about the role white business sector played in supporting apartheid and its being involved in sanctions-busting and arms procurement. He also criticised the SARB for advancing a controversial soft loan to Absa Bank Limited.

In 1981 he was an executive committee member of the Stop the Highway Committee which successfully stopped the Johannesburg City Council from constructing a section of the highway from Auckland Park through De La Ray Street in Pageview and Princess Street in Mayfair. The highway would have caused the demolition of mosques, churches, temples, schools and houses in Pageview and Mayfair.

As secretary of the Save Pageview Association, the organisation successfully prevented the forceful eviction of the Pageview families. Pageview was the only suburb in South Africa which, although declared a White Group Area in 1963, remained as South Africa’s first mixed-race suburb. He received a personal visit from then President Nelson Mandela in 1993.

Sources: SA History, WBS archives

Ernst Sonnendecker (1934-2021)

Clinician, researcher and outstanding surgeon Professor Ernst Sonnendecker (MBBCh 1956) died on 17 January 2021.

Born on 4 June 1934 in Piet Retief, he was the only child of German immigrants. He started his studies at Wits at the age of 16. Following his undergraduate years at Wits he enrolled for three years as a registrar in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Pretoria, obtained his specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist registration, wrote his MRCOG examination, and was awarded the MRCOG Part 2 Gold Medal for being the candidate with the highest marks irrespective of country of origin from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London.Sonnen Decker

Following further training, including radical surgery for malignancy by Sir John Stallworthy at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, a bursary from the South African Atomic Energy Board took him to the Argon Cancer Research Hospital, University of Chicago, US, to study the use of radioisotopes. On his return he was appointed as a senior lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Pretoria at the then HF Verwoerd Hospital and went into private practice with Frans Neser for a number of years.

In 1978 when the new Johannesburg Hospital in Parktown opened its doors, he returned to his alma mater as a senior lecturer and principal specialist. In 1979 he was admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists [FRCOG] and in 1987, by election, to the International College of Surgeons [FICS] in Chicago.

He was promoted to associate professor in 1983. He held the position of professor and academic head in Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Wits at his statutory retirement in 1999. Prof Sonnendecker quickly developed a reputation that not only preceded him, but made students, registrars and consultants very cautious, wary and break out into sweats when announced that he was coming around for ward rounds. His “Herman Hermits” 60s hair-cut, his bow tie, his two-tone shoes and his pin-striped suits became his distinguishing feature. He had an amazing memory, outstanding knowledge, loved quoting, telling anecdotal stories and emphasizing the minutest detail whether pertaining to obstetrics or gynaecology. 

He made an immense contribution to undergraduate teaching, postgraduate teaching, to the literature pertaining to managing women with ovarian cancer as well as his contribution to the surgical strategies thereof. He was very popular with the undergraduate students and was often asked to address the students at their functions. His Germanic upbringing made him meticulous, pedantic, thorough and a stickler for detail.He was not only a country-wide examiner of undergraduate and postgraduate students, an examiner of the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, a founder member of the South African Menopause Society and its first president, he was also a renowned lecturer, being invited to local and international congresses.  

Concordant with his inaugural lecture entitled "Cancer of the Ovary: Hard Facts and New Horizons" he spent much time in radicalising the surgery and chemotherapy of ovarian cancer which proved beneficial. Subsequent to retirement, Wits conferred the title of Professor Emeritus. He moved to the Western Cape, taking up residence in Hermanus, was appointed on a part time basis at the University of Stellenbosch and undertook some private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital.

Because teaching and learning were very close to his heart, it is not surprising that these aspects continued since living in Hermanus. As from January 2002 the University of Stellenbosch made two three-year appointments as Extraordinary Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Upon successful examination during February 2004 he became a North American Menopause Society Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP) and the International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD) conferred the designation of Certified Clinical Densitometrist in 2008. In 1987 the College elected him as an Associate. In 1989 he was the College of Medicine of South Africa's Margaret Orford Memorial Lecturer. He served on the Committee of the Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the College of Medicine of South Africa from 1987-1996 and was been an examiner for the Dip Mid COG, FCOG Part I and II.

Prof Sonnendecker had numerous journal publications and chapters in textbooks to his credit. Given his passion concerning menopausal issues, it is not surprising that he established a South African Menopause Society (SAMS) steering committee and was elected as its founding president in 1988 and later admitted as an honorary life member.

In 2014, he was awarded a “Fellow Ad Eundum” by the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa for the significant contribution he made during his career to women’s health.

He leaves his wife Cynthia, son Hein, Brigitte, his daughter, his extended family and grandchildren.

Sources: Franco Guidozzi and Trudy Smith, South African Menopause Society and CMSA

Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane (1976-2021)

Dr Kgopotso Rudolf "Ruddy" Mononyane (BPharm 1988, MBBCh 2002) was tragically killed when a Netcare 911 helicopter crashed on a medical retrieval flight for a COVID-19 patient. He was aboard as one of the specialist medical team as a transfer from Bergville to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. He was born to Paulinah and Joseph Mononyane as the second of five siblings. After receiving a full bursary for engineering, Dr Mononyane took two weeks to realise that engineering was not for him and enrolled for pharmacy. His decision to forgo a full bursary in favour of pursuing work in healthcare meant he took personal responsibility to fund and pursue his decided path. After completing his degree in pharmacy in 1998 and after one month in practice he was accepted to study medicine. He completed his internship at Mankweng Hospital and Community Service at 1 Military Hospital and pursued anaesthesia as a speciality, obtaining his Diploma in Anaesthesia in 2005 and his Fellowship in 2009 on the Wits circuit with his base hospital being Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

He remained in the department for three years and moved to full time private practice in 2013. Dr Mononyane was a committed Part 1 examiner in the College of Anaesthetists for over a decade and was involved in numerous training initiatives. He was also committed to research as a regular reviewer for the South African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia. He was elected to serve on the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists Council in 2016 and joined the Private Practice Business Unit in the same year. He was particularly passionate in outreach and ensuring education and training was made available to underserviced areas through training workshops. He was head hunted by both the cardiac surgery and cardiac transplant unit at Milpark Hospital and the organ transplant unit at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre where he served until his tragic passing. In his “private” time, he completed the Comrades Marathon, summited Kilimanjaro, and continually challenged himself to achieve. He was a founder member and chairperson of the Game Changers Coalition, a business initiative. He leaves behind his wife Kgomotso and two children, KJ Kgopotso Junior and Kgatliso.

Sources: South African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia

Philip Bishop (1957-2021)

Amphibian Conservation Champion Dr Philip John Bishop (PhD 1994) died on 23 January at the age of 63. He was a zoology professor at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Dr Bishop was described as “a gentleman and an incredible scientist with an unparalleled and infectious enthusiasm for the amphibians of the world, and their conservation. He will be sorely missed,” by Rob Gandola, the senior science officer for the Herpetological Society of Ireland. Philip Bishop

He was born in Devon, England and attended University College Cardiff in Wales and obtained his Master’s in parasitology in 1980. At Wits he completed his thesis on the social aspects of the chorus of frog mating calls. Dr Bishop started as lecturer at the University of Otago in 1997 and became programme director of the ecology programme in 2015 until 2019.

He held leadership roles at various organisations, serving as chief scientist for the Amphibian Survival Alliance, director of the New Zealand Frog Research Group, co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group, which was part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission. Over the years, he penned more than 100 research articles that ran the gamut of topics affecting frog conservation, including communication biology and disease. He also wrote many articles about what humans can do to protect amphibians in the face of climate change and lost or fragmented habitats. 

He lectured around the world, showing people how interesting frogs are and why they are worth saving. Via Twitter, Dr Bishop would occasionally tweet out the “frog of the day”, including a picture and fact about frogs from all over the world, typically highlighting a quirky characteristic that made them endearing.

He is survived by his wife, Debbie, and two sons, Adam and Luke.

Sources: Lisa Winter, TheScientist magazine 

Michael Welchman (1920-2021)

Dr John Michael Welchman (MBBCh 1950) passed away on 15 February at Kidbrooke Place, Onrus in the Western Cape, five months after celebrating his 100th birthday. He was born and raised in Johannesburg. He was a second-year medical student with World War II broke out. He obtained his wings a year later and was posted to North Africa in the No 40 squadron as a reconnaissance pilot, flying Hurricanes and Tomahawks. His squadron was on its way to Japan when the war ended. He returned to Wits to complete his studies and married Betty (also a pilot) – his wife of 75 years.Michael Welchman

Dr Welchman practiced medicine in Uganda, where he was primarily involved in treating leprosy and malaria. He later specialised in radiology at King Edward and Addington hospitals.

“Dad had such an extraordinary inner strength and humility. Our home life was so peaceful and loving that the big wide world came as a huge surprise, but that foundation gave us resilience. My parents’ love for each other and sense of who they were and what was to be cherished were profound lessons in life,” his daughter Jenty said in tribute.

He survived by his wife Betty (95); three children Jenty, Rowena and Richard, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Source: Nelly Roodt

Andrew Williamson (1942-2021)

Andrew Philip Faure Williamson (BA 1963, LLB 1965, HDipTax Law 1974) who died aged 78 on 12 January, distinguished himself both as a lawyer in several key anti-apartheid trials in South Africa and as a labour and employment lawyer of significance in the UK.

He was an all-rounder: a talented sportsman excelling in cricket and a keen golfer, which included his captaincy of the Royal Ashdown Golf Club in Sussex in 2002. He was immersed in history, wildlife and the African bush and was a lover of fine wines.

His strong opposition to apartheid persuaded him to leave South Africa in 1978 and start a new life in the UK.

During more than two decades as a solicitor in Britain, he specialised in high-profile work as The Guardian’s legal adviser, and in the media industry and especially corporate take-overs and disputes.

Paul Vickers, at the time legal counsel to Mirror Newspapers and TV-am, noted the seminal role Williamson played in the ending of the 1987 TV-am strike which led to major changes in the power balance between the television industry and the unions.

Born in South Africa to appeal court judge Arthur Faure Williamson and Erna Templin, Williamson married Patricia Jill Denoon in 1968. She was awarded an OBE (2013) for her charitable work on human rights and the rule of law in South Africa.

During his legal career in South Africa, Williamson represented South African author and anti-apartheid activist Breyten Breytenbach in his sensational trial in 1975 under the draconian Terrorism Act. Breytenbach was sentenced to nine years in prison — avoiding the death penalty provided for by the act — for seeking to launch a “white” wing of the outlawed African National Congress.

Williamson was instructing solicitor to the distinguished barrister Sir Sydney Kentridge (BA 1942, LLD honoris causa 2000) in several cases in South Africa and the two lawyers maintained a close friendship after they both moved to the UK in the late 1970s.

“Andrew had a lively sense of humour. But he was serious about serious things, and, indeed, pugnacious when circumstances called for it – as they frequently did in the apartheid years,” said Sir Sydney, who won international acclaim for his devastating cross-examination of the South African security police inquest into the death in detention of Black Consciousness Movement leader Stephen Biko.

Williamson continued his human rights commitment through his voluntary work in the UK, first of the Legal Assistance Trust set up and directed by his wife Jill Williamson OBE, while later in 2012, Williamson became a trustee and treasurer of the merged Canon Collins Education and Legal Assistance Trust.

Williamson began his career at Bowman Gilfillan, having studied at Wits where he graduated magna cum laude. He became a partner, specialising in commercial litigation and the defence of anti-apartheid activists including prominent literary and clerical figures in South Africa who fell foul of draconian laws.

His move to the UK in 1978 saw him requalified as an English solicitor, becoming a partner at Lovell White & King in 1982. He focused on employment and labour law, setting up the firm’s employment practice which became a prominent European practice. He was a founder member and the Chairman of the City of London Law Society Employment Sub-Committee from 1993 to 1996.

From retirement in 2002, Williamson channelled much of his intellectual energy into nature and climate crises. He began to correspond with the noted environmentalist, Jonathon Porritt, and was very supportive of Porritt’s organisation Forum for the Future. Porritt described their correspondence as, “sharing the woes of the world – and reasons to be cheerful!” and when remembering their conversations about nature and climate said, “three words come to mind: ‘passion, pragmatism and jollification’”. 

He is survived by his wife Jill, daughter Jessica, son Matthew, granddaughters Lyra and Rosie and grandson Nathaniel.

Sources: John Battersby, Daily Maverick, The Guardian

Dennis Laubscher (1920-2021)

Dennis Laubscher (BSc Eng 1953, PhD 1964), South Africa’s foremost authority on block caving techniques, died on 3 February at the age of 91 at Bushman’s River Mouth in the Eastern Cape after a long fight with stroke-related complications.

Born in Tulbagh on 1 October 1929, Dr Laubscher won numerous awards: the South Africa Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM) Gold Medal in 1995; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the South African Institute of Rock Engineering in 1998; the De Beers Mass Mining Award at Massmin 2000; and the Brigadier Stokes Platinum Medal from the SAIMM in 2007.

In the 1970s, Dr Laubscher’s first major contribution to the caving industry was the introduction of the mining rock mass rating system. It was intended to help mining practitioners effectively communicate between disciplines and to provide a tool for developing empirical guidelines for mining method selection and cave design. In 2000, he published the first comprehensive practical manual on block caving. In 2017 the University of Queensland in Australia published the Guidelines on Caving Mining Methods, co-authored by Dr Laubscher, Alan Guest, and Jarek Jakubec.

As he travelled the world, Dr Laubscher made unique and lasting friendships and was a mentor to many.

Sources: RK Consulting, Alan Guest, and the Northern Miner

Stuart Saunders (1931-2021)

Former UCT Vice-Chancellor and Emeritus Professor Stuart Saunders (DSc Med honoris causa 2014) died in his sleep on 12 February 2021, aged 89, after a short illness. Stuart Saunders

After graduating with an MBChB from University of Cape Town, Professor Saunders undertook post-graduate work at the Royal Post-Graduate Medical School at Hammersmith in London, and at Harvard University. He returned to UCT in the late 1960s and co-founded the university’s Liver Clinic and Liver Research Unit (now the Liver Research Centre). In 2002 he became a Grand Counsellor of the Order of the Baobab, Silver, bestowed by then President Thabo Mbeki. His memoirs were published in Vice-Chancellor on a Tightrope (David Phillip, 2000).

Professor Saunders was senior adviser to the Andrew W Mellon Foundation of New York (a generous benefactor of South African higher education research projects). Wits benefitted enormously from the philanthropic work and support of the foundation. The long-term commitment of Professor Saunders benefited research, teaching and postgraduate studies at Wits.

He was awarded honorary doctorates from the Universities of Aberdeen, Sheffield, Rhodes, Cape Town, Princeton, Toronto and Wits. He was a Fellow of the College of Physicians of South Africa, the Royal Society of South Africa and of the Royal College of Physicians London. He is an honorary fellow of the College of Medicine.

Kantilal Naik (1938-2021)

Respected science educator, community leader and life-long friend of Wits Professor Kantilal ‘Kanti’ Naik (BSc 1964, BA Ed 1974, M Ed 1980) died on 16 February at the age of 82. Kantilal Naik

He started his career as a senior science teacher at Lenasia Indian High School in 1965, but also taught at the Roodepoort Asiatic and the Transvaal College of Education. In 1969 he wrote a physical science textbook Calculations in Physical Science, for matriculants and first-year students. The book was used widely across the racially segregated education departments.

In 1971 Naik was a teacher at Roodepoort Indian High School (where Ahmed Timol taught) and he was detained for six months and subjected to interrogation by security police using the “helicopter method”. He lost mobility of his hands and had to undergo physiotherapy to regain movement. His experiences while in detention are now part of the historic record maintained by the South African History Archive entitled “Between Life and Death on detention at John Vorster Square”.

His association with Wits began when he joined the Department of Statistics as a senior tutor in 1981. He transferred to Computational and Applied Mathematics in 1986, the same year he won the Distinguished Teacher Award. He remained in the department for 17 years before retiring in 2003, the same year in which he won the Benjamin Pogrund Medal for his contribution to teaching. He continued to serve the university as a member of the Executive Committee of Convocation. In 2013 he was awarded a Gold Medal for his contribution to the university and community of Azaadville.

He was instrumental in the name change of Azaadville Secondary School to the Ahmed Timol Secondary School by then President Nelson Mandela in 1998. He loved calligraphy and played the Indian musical instruments – harmonium and Bulbul tarang.

Sources: Wits and South African History archives

Percy Tucker (1928-2021)

Percy Tucker (BCom 1950) recognised early that the mystery and romance of an arts event could be built on hardnosed business practices. The founder of Computicket, born in the small mining town of Benoni in 1928, died on 29 January 2021 at the age of 92 from COVID-19-related complications. Percy Tucker

He told Wits Review in 2012 that his love for the theatre – which spanned classical music in all its forms to ballet, modern dance, popular music, variety and spectacle – started at the age of seven when he heard Gracie Fields sing live.

“The lights in the Criterion Theatre in Benoni dimmed and the orchestra struck up. The entrance of Gracie Fields is as vivid in my mind as if it was yesterday. Tall, blonde and wearing a long blue dress that sparkled under the spotlight, she seemed to me to be the most glamorous of creatures. As her clear and resonant voice soared over the auditorium, I was filled with total happiness, and thus began my abiding love of the theatre. I have been starstruck and stagestruck ever since.” 

As someone who couldn’t act, dance or sing, his biography Just the Ticket! (Jonathan Ball, 1997) documents a life surrounded by glamourous artists such as Marlene Dietrich, Margot Fonteyn, Shirley MacLaine and Luciano Pavarotti. Pieter Toerien, renowned producer and theatre manager, wrote of him in the forward:

“Percy Tucker is an extraordinary man who personifies everything a ticket agent ought ideally to be. His vision of the theatrical world is always clear-sighted, true and steady. He is unbelievably generous, always scrupulously fair and understanding, treating everybody – stars and beginners – in exactly the same way, and he is entirely devoid of malice – unusual traits in our profession. A wonderful showman, he has inspired people to think that the theatre is not only important but also indispensable to our lives. Self-effacing (‘And what do you do, Mr. Tucker?’ ‘Oh, I just sell tickets’), always optimistic and supportive, generous with advice and encouragement, he has been a true patron of the arts.” Percy Tucker

Tucker matriculated from Benoni High School and graduated with his BCom from Wits in 1950. He was asked to be the business manager of Leon Gluckman’s production of King Lear at Wits in 1954 but discovered there were no systems in place for organising bookings and marketing, and the process was made more complicated by having to deal with boxes overflowing with postal applications.  His first theatre business venture was a booking service called Show Service, which he opened in 1954 and grew successfully, yet he relentlessly looked for ways to eliminate queueing.  He started investigating the use of computers in the 1960s and travelled to Los Angeles in 1968. In 1970 he travelled to London after learning about an abortive computerised system. Within five weeks he relocated the 12 top team members in Johannesburg. In 1971, he founded a company called Sigma Data. He launched Computicket in 11 June 1971 – the first electronic theatre booking system in the world, which marks its 50th anniversary this year.

He was the patron of the Wits Best Director Award, the Naledi Awards and the Cape Town City Ballet Awards and had a long list of Lifetime Achievement Awards: The Moyra Fine Vita Award for lifetime contribution to SA Theatre; Theatre Management of South Africa for contribution to changing marketing of entertainment and the ‘Fleur de Cap’ Award for Lifetime Contribution achievement and dedication towards theatre and its development in South Africa. He also received the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award in 2005.

His partner for 50 years, Graham Dickason died in November 2020.
A dedicated Wits alumnus, Tucker wrote after reading the Witsies in Hollywood edition of Wits Review (April 2020): “Your latest Wits Review arrived in my box on Friday and my I congratulate you on a superb issue. I read it from beginning to end as now that I am 92 I remember so many of the people who unfortunately are in your obituary columns. I just want to tell you that design, format and pictures are equal if not better than most overseas magazines I buy. Fascinating to read about David Jammy…his mother was from my home town Benoni and his father was my lawyer at some early stages of Computicket. I was so impressed that I thought I must write and congratulate you and your team on a magnificent job. In awe, Percy.”

Sources: Wits archive,

Sibongile Khumalo (1957-2021)

In the sleeve notes of her 2005 eponymously titled album, beloved vocalist and musician Sibongile Khumalo (BA Hons 1983, HDipPM 1984) writes about a formative experience she had around the age of 13, when her father made her listen to Constance Magogo kaDinuzulu, the Zulu princess and musician known for her prowess as singer and composer. “My dad made me sit at her feet to listen to her play ugubhu and sing. At the time it did not make sense to me, but I had to obey. I thought he was being very unkind to me because all the other children were out in the yard playing. It must have been the destiny. In my professional years the music came back and it began to make sense.” Sibongile Khumalo

Khumalo was introduced to music at the age of eight, guided predominantly by her father’s influence, Sibongile studied violin, singing, drama and dance under Emily Motsieloa, a pianist and leader of an all-women’s band and influential musical personality in township circles. Her parents Grace and Khabi Mngoma were active community members involved in cultural upliftment, and instilled in her an abiding love and appreciation for South African music. Her mother, Grace Mngoma (nee Mondlane) worked as a nursing sister and what is known as a health visitor, a nurse who visits family to promote healthy lifestyles especially of young children. Her father, Professor Khabi Mngoma (DMus honoris causa 1987), was an historian and professor of music at the University of Zululand, honoured by Wits in recognition of his service to the culture of the nation and its music.

She inherited her father’s passion for education and earned two undergraduate degrees from Wits and University of Zululand – she received honorary doctorates from the University of Zululand, Rhodes and Unisa. She held teaching and administration positions at Federated Union of Black Artists Academy and Madimba Institute of African Music in Soweto.

In 1993, she won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival and she released her debut album in 1996 Ancient Evening and over the next two decades released a steady stream of albums, earning four South African Music Awards and garnering three Vita Award for her stage performances. She was awarded with the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver in 2008 in recognition of her ‘’excellent contribution to the development of South African art and culture in the musical fields of jazz and opera’’. In 2013 the Naledi Theatre Awards bestowed Khumalo with the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her talents in acting, opera, jazz, teaching and being a strong activist for the advancement of theatre in South Africa. 

Her work transcended genre, moving easily between traditional South African indigenous music, to opera and jazz, with equal aplomb. She sung in major venues around the world including the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican Centre, the Kennedy Centre in Washington and Ronnie Scott’s in London.

Ahead of her performance at the Joy of Jazz Festival in 2019, Johannesburg, Khumalo said that no matter the symbolism, her main commitment was to the singularity of her own voice. “While exposing yourself and opening yourself up to what is out there, it is also important to remain true to yourself, so that even when you allow yourself to be influenced by others, you retain an identity that clearly defines you,” she said. “It is the truth in what you express, and how you express it, that is paramount.”

Khumalo died on 28 January at the age of 63, preceded in death by her husband Siphiwe in 2005. She leaves behind her daughter Ayanda; two sons Tshepho and Siyabonga; and bereft music lovers.

Sources: Wits archives, The New York Times, The Conversation

Lewis Wolpert (1929- 2021)

Acclaimed for his ideas on pattern formation in the embryo and “positional information” by which cells recognise where they ought to be in the field of a developing organ, biologist Lewis Wolpert (BSc Eng 1951) died at the age of 91 on 28 January 2021.

He was a polymath and public figure, contributing to topics ranging from religion and depression to old age and philosophy. He made evolutionary thought more accessible to a wider audience and argued that the “truly most important time in your life” was not birth, marriage or death, but gastrulation – the stage in which a uniform ball of cells folds to become differentiated layers with the beginnings of a gut. Lewis Wolpert

He graduated with a civil engineering degree from Wits and after working for two years on soil mechanics as assistant to the director of the Building Research Institute in Pretoria, he left to hitchhike in Europe. He worked briefly for the water planning board in Israel and decided to study soil mechanics at Imperial College London. A friend suggested he apply his knowledge of mechanics to studying dividing cells and he was accepted as PhD student with biophysicist James Danielli at Kings’ College. He was later promoted to lecturer and reader (in zoology) at Kings before taking up the chair of biology at Middlesex (and transferred to University College London after the two institutions merged), where he remained until he retired at the age of 74. In a 2015 interview with Development he said: “Changing so many times, from civil engineering to biology and then to different systems, required me to work very hard. For example, during my PhD I had to learn quite a lot and pass exams in zoology. It was a little difficult but interesting.”

Wolpert was born in Johannesburg into a conservative Jewish family, the only surviving child of William, a manager in a newsagent and bookshop, and his wife, Sarah (nee Suzman). Wolpert took Hebrew lessons, had a bar mitzvah, went to synagogue every Saturday – but turned away from the faith at age of 16. He considered himself a secular humanist. In Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast (WW Norton & Company, 2006) he investigates the nature of belief, pondering the origins of religion. “I argue that religion comes from toolmaking, discovered by human beings thousands of years ago. Toolmaking requires that you have an understanding of physical cause and effects – we look for causes of other things that affect our lives. The one casual basis that we know is that humans are causal, and that, I believe is the origin of God.”

In 1969 in a landmark paper he proposed that the way an embryonic cell interprets its genetic instructions depends on its position. The cell “knows” where it is in relation to sources of chemical signals called morphogens, because the strength of the signals vary with the distance from the source. It wasn’t well received at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole in Massachusetts, in the US. He recalled how fellow Witsie Sydney Brenner (BSc 1945, BSc Hons 1946, MSc 1947, MBBCh 1951, DSc honoris causa 1972) comforted him: “The next morning, while I was bathing, Sydney Brenner found me crying in the water and said ‘Lewis, pay no attention. We like your ideas. Pay no attention to people who don’t like it.’ And he’s the one who saved me. He gave me total encouragement, so I didn’t care that all these Americans didn’t like what I was doing. If Sydney liked it, that’s what mattered, because Sydney is an amazing man.”

Over the years Wolpert combined his interest in cell development with a career as science communicator. “Science is the best way to understand the world,” he said and frequently broadcast on BBC radio and TV as well as wrote a number of popular books. The best known of these, Malignant Sadness (Simon and Schuster,1999), was an attempt to understand his own experience of severe depression at the age of 65 and compared the merits of drugs and psychotherapy. Other popular books included How We Live and Why We Die: The Secret Lives of Cells (Faber & Faber, 2009), The Triumph of the Embryo (Courier Corporation, 1991). In You’re Looking Very Well: The Surprising Nature of Getting Old (Faber & Faber 2012), he presents research arguing that happiness peaks at 74. “It’s a nice age because any major problems you might have would have already been solved by then.” He regularly cycled, ran and played tennis into his eighties.

As a theorist, Wolpert’s influence on the field of genetic biology has been immense. He was lead author of the definitive textbook Principles of Development, now in its sixth edition. In 2018 the Royal Society awarded him its highest honour, the Royal Medal.

Wolpert married Elizabeth Brownstein in 1961, and they had four children, two of whom, Daniel and Miranda, also became at different times professors at UCL, in neuroscience and clinical psychology, respectively. The marriage to Elizabeth ended in divorce, and in 1993 Wolpert married the Australian writer Jill Neville who died suddenly of cancer in 1997.

In 2016 he married Alison Hawkes. She survives him, along with his children, Miranda, Daniel, Jessica and Matthew, two stepchildren, Judy and Luke, and six grandchildren.

Sources: The Guardian, FT, Development,

Joseph Sonnabend (1933 – 2021)

Pioneering AIDS researcher and clinician Joseph Sonnabend (MBBCh 1956) died on 24 January 2021 at Wellington Hospital in London after suffering a heart attack on 3 January.   

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to a physician mother and university professor father, Dr Sonnabend grew up in Bulawayo, in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).  He trained in infectious diseases at Wits and the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. Joseph Sonnabend

In the 1960s, Dr Sonnabend worked in London under Alick Isaacs, the co-discoverer of Interferon, at the National Institute of Medical Research.  In the early 1970s, he moved to New York City to continue Interferon research as associate professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  He later served as Director of Continuing Medical Education at the Bureau of VD Control at the New York City Department of Health, where he advocated for a focus on gay men’s health, particularly programs to reduce sexually-transmitted infections.  

In 1978, he volunteered at the Gay Men’s Health Project in Sheridan Square, Greenwich Village, New York City and started a private clinic for treating sexually transmitted infections. When gay men in his practice began to get sick, he was among the first clinicians in the US to recognise the emerging AIDS epidemic.  

"I wrote to the city health department, asking, 'Are people reporting this? Am I the only one seeing this? Is there something going on in the city that other doctors are reporting to you?' he told a BBC Radio 4 programme in 2018. "They didn't even bother to respond to me."

The US president at the time, Ronald Reagan, came under fire for ignoring the emerging AIDS crisis and when he finally addressed the epidemic — in 1987 — nearly 23,000 people had died of the disease. Dr Joseph Sonnabend

Former patients, including Sean Strub, who would go on to found POZ magazine, a publication for HIV-positive readers, and now mayor of Milford, a small borough in the US state of Pennsylvania, say Dr Sonnabend's diligence as a community physician saved many lives, including his own.

In 1983, Dr Sonnabend founded the AIDS Medical Foundation, later to become the American Foundation for AIDS research, with virologist and philanthropist Mathilde Krim. He resigned as chair of amfAR’s Scientific Advisory Committee in 1985, protesting what he believed was the organization’s over-hyping, for fundraising purposes, of the threat of heterosexual female-to-male HIV transmission. 

The same year, he would also prove instrumental in helping to write the first ever safer sex manual for gay men, How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach, with activists Richard Berkowitz and Michael Callen.

Dr Sonnabend also pioneered community-based clinical research, helping to launch the Community Research Initiative (now ACRIA) and other organisations.  In 1983 he founded and, until 1986, edited the journal AIDS Research, the first professional peer-reviewed publication focused on the epidemic.

From the earliest days of the epidemic, Dr Sonnabend championed the rights of people living with AIDS. He was particularly concerned by the ethical issues around the AIDS crisis, winning the Nellie Westerman Prize for Research in Ethics with his co-authors in 1983 for the article “Confidentiality, Informed Consent and Untoward Social Consequences in Research on a ’New Killer Disease’ (AIDS)” in the journal Clinical Research.  His work inspired the New York State Legislature to pass the first confidentiality protections for people with AIDS.  In 1984, he initiated, with five of his patients and the New York State Attorney General, the first AIDS-related civil rights litigation, suing his landlord for attempting to evict him for treating people with AIDS at his office.

In 2005, he retired from medical practice and moved to London and was awarded a Red Ribbon Leadership Award from the National HIV/Aids Partnership.  In 2000, he was recognised as an inaugural Award of Courage Honoree by amfAR.

In 2018, at the age of 85, he made his public debut as a composer of classical music, although he had been composing music for years to deal with the trauma he saw as a result of his work. He participated in a concert at London’s Fitzrovia Chapel as part of the AIDS Histories and Cultural Festival. A composition from early 2020 can be found here.

He was pre-deceased by his sister, Yolanda Sonnabend, the renowned theatre designer and artist. A documentary film, Some Kind of Love (2015), documented their relationship. Dr Sonnabend is survived by his two sons.

Sources: Thomson Reuters Foundation, Wikipedia,


Dolly Mokgatle (1956-2021)

Business stalwart and human rights lawyer Dolly Mokgatle (LLB 1983, HDip Tax Law 1991) leaves a legacy as an authentic leader with a passion for South Africa and its people. The 64-year-old Mokgatle, who held numerous senior positions in listed companies and state-owned enterprises, died on 9 January 2021. Born on 16 May 1956 into a family of eight children in Springs, Mokgatle (nee Moloko) held a qualification in procurement from the University of the North and an LLB and a diploma in tax law from Wits.

Before democracy, she worked as a litigation officer at the Black Lawyers Association Legal Education Centre where she focused on political cases, housing, labour and other human rights violations. She was also a Research Officer with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits and Professional Assistant at Cheadle, Thompson and Haysom Attorneys.

In 1991, Mokgatle joined Eskom as a senior legal adviser and moved up the ranks to be the first black person and first woman appointed as MD of the utility's transmission group, which she turned from lossmaking to profitable within a year. She was involved with the restructuring of the Electricity Distribution Industry and chaired the board of the Holding Company. She has also been involved in Energy Regulation in South Africa and was Deputy Chairperson of the Board of the National Energy Regulator. From 2003 to 2005 she was CEO of state rail parastatal Spoornet, now Transnet Freight Rail.

In 2005, she founded Peotona Group Holdings, a majority black women-owned investment firm, along with prominent businesswomen Cheryl Carolus, Wendy LucasBull and Thandi Orleyn. Mokgatle served on numerous boards, councils and committees. She was a respected businessperson and held senior positions in numerous listed companies and state-owned enterprises such as Telkom, Total SA and Zurich Insurance, Kumba, Lafarge, Sasfin Bank Ltd and the Woolworths Employee Share Ownership (as Chairperson) among others. She also served on various trusts and foundations, including Junior Achievement SA, the Rothschild SA Foundation, Michaelhouse School governing body and the Associate Governor at the Wits Foundation.

A devoted wife and mother of five, Mokgatle channelled her creative flair into fashion, styling and the culinary arts. A longtime avid golfer, she took up horse riding in recent years. She was deeply involved in church activities and was appointed deputy chancellor of the board of trustees of the Anglican Church Diocese of Johannesburg.

Pro bono work epitomised Mokgatle's altruistic nature. She was a prominent advocate for the empowerment and development of young leaders and women in particular. She was also the founder of the Palesa Ya Sechaba Foundation, an initiative to assist learners of Tlakula High School in KwaThema to improve their mathematics, science and accounting marks.

In addition, she served on the board of the Unisa School of Business Leadership in 2012, later becoming chairperson. Around the time Mokgatle passed away, she was a non-practicing attorney of the High Court. 

She was listed as one of the most powerful African women in 2017. She leaves behind her husband and five children.

Sources: Business Day, Sunday Times and WBS archives

Clive Chipkin (1929-2021)

Clive Chipkin (BArch 1955, DArch honoris causa 2013) died peacefully on 10 January 2021 in Johannesburg, aged 91. Dr Chipkin was born on 21 March 1929 in Johannesburg, the city he made his own. He was an extraordinary person who lived a rich and full life. He was passionate about Johannesburg. 

In 2013, Wits recognised his scholarship with the award of an Honorary PhD. His books Johannesburg Style: Architecture and Society 1880s to 1960s (David Philip, Cape Town, 1993) and Johannesburg Transition: Architecture and Society from 1950 (STE Publishers, 2009) are seminal monographs which made his name. They represent a lifetime of research, extraordinary knowledge and critical analysis.

Johannesburg Style quickly achieved iconic status and is regarded as a work of great distinction. Eric Itzkin describes it as a work of genius. The title, Johannesburg Style, was meant to signify that Johannesburg has a characteristic way of doing things. Dr Chipkin dissected how the colonial capitalist city with an entrepreneurial culture evolved – this was the unique style of Johannesburg. 

The two Chipkin Johannesburg volumes give an understanding of the making and shaping of the city of Johannesburg and its cultural, social and historical underpinnings. They show a remarkable breadth of knowledge and the capacity to pose difficult questions about the roots of design and the shaping of architectural styles and fashions. How did international styles come to the city? For example, why and how did Brazilian architecture come to Hillbrow? These works are authoritative and commanding. Together they have set a high standard of serious scholarship in the study of architectural history in Johannesburg. 

They are groundbreaking in that no other work on the subject of Johannesburg’ architecture comes close to matching Dr Chipkin’s reach across so many disciplines. Both books are essential works of reference for anyone interested in Johannesburg’s history and change. 

These massive books are treasures and now highly collectable. What Nicolas Pevsner of HJ Dyos is to London, Chipkin is to Johannesburg. 

His lens is architectural history, but his breadth of scholarship is such that he enables the reader to see the city and its buildings with a fresh understanding about why certain styles were adopted in particular periods and why the city has been rebuilt through successive waves of capitalist expansion. Clive was particularly enthusiastic about Modernist architecture in Johannesburg because he was a product of the flowering and nurturing of those ideas at Wits in the 1940s.

The site of study is Johannesburg, but the analysis of how and why a mining camp founded in the 19th century and grew into a sprawling African metropolis and magnet for settlement is of international importance. Dr Chipkin drew on a rich and diverse array of sources across architecture, politics, economics, sociology and history to explain the development of the city through 120 years, meticulously collected, annotated, indexed and filed in a huge personal archive. They are a treasure trove of photographs of a city that capture perpetual change. He also added some of his own meticulous drawings. 

Dr Chipkin grew up in Yeoville and was educated at King Edward VII boys’ school – which he saw as Edwardian in architecture, ethos and education. He was proud of his old school and it was a strand in his embarking on understanding how the imperial culture played out in Johannesburg as the town shifted from a temporary camp that drew adventurers from all over the world to being a permanent town with its first steel-framed buildings and first lifts, like the third Corner House and Victory House or the Carlton Hotel, or indeed his very Edwardian school. 

 He studied architecture at Wits in the late 1940s and became excited by the modern movement and a completely new approach to office blocks, skyscrapers and homes. His son Ivor (BA Hons 1992, MA 1998) described him as “a Fifties man” full of the optimistic ideal of a better society, fair to all. He wanted architects to deliver on the dream of a better society. 

Dr Chipkin knew his city because he was a practising architect; he initially gained experience as a young man working on a building site and then working for the architects, first Bernard Janks and later Wayburne and Wayburne, where he connected with other architects who had a socialist take on politics and pushed (at that time without success) in challenging the growing power of the emerging apartheid state.

He made friends with Alan Lipman (BArch 1950, DArch honoris causa 1998) and Rusty Bernstein. Bernstein and Bram Fischer (LLD honoris causa 2016) helped draft the Freedom Charter. Dr Chipkin remembered 1955 as the year of the Congress of the People in Kliptown. In a self-deprecating way that was so typical, he recalled that his finest architectural contribution for this event was his design of the toilet facilities.

He earned his B Arch degree at Wits in 1955 and as a single man he set out to explore the world. He gained experience working for the old London County Council. It was a fairly short stay in London followed by a not-so-grand tour of Europe — Clive hitch-hiked but it was an 18th-century tradition to explore the art and architecture of the continent. Clive went to India and encountered Lutyens and Baker’s imperial ideas in their grand designs in New Delhi.

Back in South Africa, these influences led his interest in the Baker-Lutyens visible imprint on the Union buildings, Parktown grandeur, the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Rand Regiments Memorial. He was also interested in Le Corbusier’s ideas for a modernist metropolis at Chandigarh. This was all background to how he began to study and observe Johannesburg. 

He established his own practice in 1958; it was a small office he described as “an overworked and underpaid practice”. Over time he worked as an association with firms such as Trident Steel and then Cape Gate and with Jeff Stacey designed a series of industrial buildings at the Vanderbijl plant of Cape Gate. These buildings were considered to be progressive, the architects delivered on two goals for the client, Mendel Kaplan — quality and optimism.

Dr Chipkin considered the Central Facilities building to be a “little masterpiece” as the objective of the collaborative architectural team was to introduce coherent pedestrian routes, street architecture and human scale to counteract the hostile vistas of an industrial complex. He wrote extensively about the project in Johannesburg Transition and was proud of the designs and how architecture could contribute to better industrial relations.

Dr Chipkin was a man who lived his values and in 1986 was a founding member of the group “Architects Against Apartheid an informal pressure group that included architects such as Chipkin, Hans Schirmacher, Henry Paine, Ivan Schlapobersky, and Lindsay Bremner. They tried to make colleagues aware of how the gross application of apartheid ideology to architecture was distorting the moral and ethical basis of the profession in South Africa. They argued that it was unethical to participate professionally in the design and planning of apartheid buildings. 

Clive Chipkin’s most enduring contribution to South African architecture was in the interpretation of his city in his writing. He loved Johannesburg, but was not nostalgic or maudlin as the city changed, declined and new residents from all over Africa arrived. That was part of the natural order of things.

He contributed to more than 50 publications, including his two monographs, starting with articles about architecture in India. His books on Johannesburg brought his thinking and reflections together. He worked closely with his wife of more than 50 years, Valerie Francis Chipkin, who was his editor and who shaped his archives. He was awarded an Honorary D Arch Degree by the University of the Witwatersrand in 2013 and in 2015 gave his archive to the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits. The archive was named for his wife. 

Dr Chipkin died far too young because he read, studied and wrote about architecture until the end of his life. He was a fun person to be with, embracing his city on tours and trips of exploration. He drew maps of the route to give the best view of the Witwatersrand Ridges. He gave readily of his knowledge in lectures, interviews and tours, but he was always so self-effacing, modest. He was a caring person who gave to everyone he encountered. At the time of his death, he had completed the third volume, Johannesburg Diversity. It is heading towards publication.

He is survived by his three children, Peter (BSc 1984), Lesley and Ivor, four grandchildren and his close friend Marcia Leveson (MA 1968, PhD 1993). 

Source: Kathy Munro (BA 1967, Honorary Associate Professor), Daily Maverick, The Heritage Portal

Obituaries 2020 cntd

Dr Rashid Ahmed Mahmood Salojee (1933-2020)

Dr Rashid Ahmed Mahmood Salojee (MBBCh 1958), a prominent activist who participated in the anti-apartheid movement, died on 2 December 2020 at the age of 87 in his Lenasia home.

Fondly called “Ram” because of his initials, Dr Salojee was an ardent cricketer and sports administrator, a committed medical and health professional, and a dedicated civic, welfare and business leader. He was a devout follower of Islam and an ANC stalwart.Ram Salojee

Dr Salojee was born on 24 March 1933 and was educated at the Ferreira Indian Primary School, Waterval Islamic Institute, and Johannesburg Indian High School earning his medical degree from Wits in 1958. He practised as a general practitioner for almost 45 years and retired in 2011.

Dr Salojee actively supported the 1980s students’ boycott of classes and went on to become a prominent leader of the Congress Movement with Dr Essop Jassat, the late Ebrahim “Cas” Saloojee, Ismail Momoniat, Ama Naidoo, Samson Ndou, Mohammed Vali Moosa and Maniben Sita. 

He was detained several times during the states of emergency in the late 1980s and banning orders restricted him to the magisterial district of Johannesburg.  Dr Salojee was a leading figure in the Liberation Movement in the 1980s and 90s, which eventually led to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. He was detained several times during the emergencies imposed during apartheid. Several ban orders were placed on him, but Dr Salojee defied them and continued to host civic, provincial and national resistance organisations, including the erstwhile Transvaal Indian Congress, an organisation similar to the Natal Indian Congress started by Mahatma Gandhi.

His son Mahmood (BA 1994) said: “For the past 60 years, my father played a significant role in the lives of people. My father was the Vice President of the Transvaal Indian Congress and the Vice President of the United Democratic Front Transvaal. He accompanied Nelson Mandela on an ANC delegation to Iran, France and Saudi Arabia in 1993. He later attended several conferences of the International Parliamentary Union.”

Dr Salojee had a remarkable ability to blend his civic, political, moral and spiritual activism, said Dr Ismail Vadi of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation in a tribute.

“Even as he fought alongside leading figures in the national liberation movement, he never lost sight of mobilising and organising (forces) in his local community. He fought for social justice, religious tolerance and national liberation,” Vadi said.

Dr Salojee was diagnosed with diabetes in 2011 and two limbs were amputated. He received numerous local and national awards for his lifelong community service, which also included work in the local community’s health sector. Others included The Star Community Award, the Indicator’s Newsmaker of the Year Award, the Lenasia Human Rights Achiever Award, the South African Medical and Dental Practitioner’s Award for Contribution to Medicine and Community Service and the 75th Jubilee Medal from the Health Sciences Faculty at Wits.

He is survived by daughter Yasmin and son Mahmood, and their children.

Sources: Daily Maverick, The Post

Christian Roering (1935-2020)

Professor Christian Roering (BSc, 1955, MSc 1960, PhD 1964) was born in Vryheid, Natal, on 15 January 1935, to a Norwegian father and a Swedish mother. He attended secondary school in Benoni West and matriculated from King Edward VII High School in Johannesburg in 1951.

Professor Roering completed a BSc (Eng) degree at Wits in 1954 and in 1955 he left South Africa for the land of his ancestors, Sweden, where he obtained an MSc (Eng) degree in 1960 also from Wits, working on the sulphide ore deposits of the Rävlidenfältet Västerbotten in northern Sweden.

He was one of the first students to use an electron microprobe, which he applied to the study of sphalerite. Professor Roering returned to South Africa in 1959 to be appointed by Professor TW Gevers (head of the Department of Geology at Wits University) as the first full-time staff member of the Economic Geology Research Unit (EGRU) that was established in October 1957 by the Chamber of Mines of South Africa.

Professor Roering held the position of research Fellow until his resignation in February 1968. Prior to his return to South Africa and in preparation for his research position at EGRU, Professor Gevers sent him to a formal course at the International Training Centre for Photogeology in Delft, Holland. During this time Chris also visited the Photogeological Section of the Overseas Geological Survey of the Leeds University Research Institute of African Geology, and the Imperial College of Science in England where he met a young structural geologist named Dr JG Ramsey, whose ideas on structural geology greatly excited him. For his first assignment at EGRU, Professor Gevers sent him to map the lithium-bearing pegmatites of the Karibib District of what was then South West Africa. This formed the basis for his PhD dissertation at Wits.  

He turned his attention to the Barberton Goldfield, where he initially undertook structural mapping of the Saddleback Syncline south of the main gold-producing region. Professor Roering was an excellent all-round geological enthusiast, but his main interests centred around structural geology and as such he motivated a visit to Wits University by Professor John Ramsay, one of the leading structural geologists in the world at the time.

Professor Roering accompanied John Ramsay and a class of 4th year students to the Barberton Greenstone Belt, where Prof Ramsay was able to demonstrate his structural mapping techniques to the students. This led to three students (Carl Anhaeusser, Morris Viljoen and Chris Van Vuuren) taking up mapping projects supervised by Chris Roering that were offered by EGRU to the Honours Class of 1961. This laid the groundwork for the Upper Mantle Project. He was delegated to approach Morris and Richard Viljoen and try to convince them to leave the Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company (JCI) and become involved in the project. This they did and the lasting impact of this project is that it promoted the Barberton Greenstone Belt internationally as a classical Archaean terrane holding clues to the earliest beginnings of greenstone belt evolution and crustal development. Geological investigations linked to gold exploration and controls of mineralisation underpinned the enthusiasm and support afforded by the Barberton mining industry to the type of research that was carried out over the years by EGRU and which was initiated by Professor Roering and his students in the early 1960s. He was not only responsible for initiating the careers of the students he supervised but also for pioneering in South Africa the use of stereographic projections of structural data for the understanding of structures and the concept that small-scale structures reflect largescale structures.

In mid-1966, he started mapping along the northern margin of the Witwatersrand Basin. However, by 1968 he had become bored with both the Upper Mantle Project and mapping in the Witwatersrand. He felt he needed to find out how geology was applied to exploration by the mining companies and so he joined General Mining and Finance Corporation as Chief Geologist in Windhoek.

Later in 1970 he was appointed to the post of consulting geologist in charge of base metals and was stationed in Johannesburg. By 1971, however, he realised that his real interests were mainly academic and could not be satisfied in industry, where his future lay with management. When Wilhelm Verwoerd left Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) to become professor at Stellenbosch, he took up the post of senior lecturer in the Department of Geology.

He was promoted to a full Professorship at RAU in 1980. A year later he stumbled across highly deformed conglomerates in the Ventersdorp strata near Swartkops that so intrigued him that in 1982 he stopped working at COMRO and became seconded to EGRU in order to remap the Swartkops area of the Witwatersrand. From this work came the recognition of some of the most spectacular examples of thrust faulting in the Witwatersrand succession and the rediscovery of the fact that thrust tectonics played a major role in the evolution of the Witwatersrand goldfield. His study of the structural geology of the Swartkops outlier north of Krugersdorp led to a publication that was awarded the Jubilee Medal of the Geological Society.

In 1984, he became head of the Geology Department at RAU, which was renamed University of Johannesburg in 2004, and with him came a drive for increasing the research output of the Department.

Professor Roering married Elizabeth Maria (Elma) Petronella Heyneke on 10 October 1963. Elma graduated from the University of Pretoria as a high school teacher but in her late fifties discovered a hidden talent in watercolour painting. The couple had three daughters, of which the eldest, Marina, obtained a national diploma in interior designing, while Amanda qualified with a degree in commerce. The youngest, Elma, qualified as a medical doctor and then as a radiologist.

Source: Journal of Geology

Albert Allen Sealey (1932 – 2020)

Albert Allen Sealey (BSc 1955) passed away peacefully in Dorset, in the UK in April 2020.  He and his wife, Ann (BA 1973) moved there in 2004 and enjoyed a very happy retirement.Albert Sealey

Sealey was born in Mayfair, Johannesburg and attended Forest High School.  After matriculating at the age of sixteen, he joined the Rand Mines Group as a Learner Official at Crown Mines in February 1949.  He was awarded a bursary to study mining engineering at Wits. After graduating with a BSc Min Eng in 1955, he started his career with Rand Mines holding various managerial positions on the group’s gold mines. 

In 1969, he attended the Programme for Management Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business, whereafter he returned to Rand Mines’ head office as assistant technical manager of the gold division. 

After this Sealey moved up the ladder in the Group very quickly. In 1972 he was appointed Deputy Chairman of Rand Mines Limited and Chairman of the Coal and Base Minerals Division.  He was in charge of exploration, and from 1976 to 1992 he was an Executive Director of the Group’s holding company, Barlow Rand Limited.  When Barlow Rand was unbundled in 1992, he was appointed Chairman of Randcoal and continued to serve as a director on various boards within the wider Barloworld Group until his retirement in 1994.

Sealey gave freely of his time and expertise to the wider community and industry as three-time Chairman of the Transvaal Coal Owners’ Association; as Chairman of the Collieries Committee of the Chamber of Mines; and Chairman of the Natal Associated Collieries from 1971 to 1993.  Sealey served on the Council of Wits from 1984 to 1987; he was Chairman of the Wits/CSIR Schonland Research Centre for Nuclear Sciences from 1985 to 1992. In 1988 he was appointed a member of the Eskom Electricity Council and served on that body until 1992.

Messages of condolences from friends and ex-colleagues have a common refrain: “Allen was larger than life, and the world was a better place for him having been part of it.”

Source: Anne Sealey

Alexander Jacobson (1925-2020)

Dr Alexander Jacobson (BDS 1947, MSc Dent 1961, PhD 1968) passed away at his home in Denver, Colorado, with Norma-Jill, his wife of 50 years, at his side.Dr Alex Jacobson

Born in 1925 in Bethlehem, South Africa, Dr Jacobson had a physically active childhood exploring and learning. As a young man, he enjoyed mountain climbing and baseball, and he represented South Africa in the Winter Olympics for skiing.

He was described as “a gentleman and an icon of civility; he was compassionate, considerate, thoughtful, and a delightful friend, and conversationist”.

Dr Jacobson's leadership was recognised early, and he served as chair of the Department of Orthodontics at Wits, for several years. He also served as chair of the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Alabama, where he updated the programme to the then-current orthodontic philosophies. In 1986, he changed the orthodontic curriculum from two to three years and included a required master's degree component. He returned to private practice and teaching as an adjunct professor from 1989 to 2010.

Dr Jacobson wrote or edited textbooks that received numerous acclamations and published numerous peer-reviewed articles. He was the editor of reviews and abstracts in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics for 15 years.

In 1974, he led a dental anthropology team to study the dentition and craniofacial skeletal pattern of the Lengua Indians in Paraguay and published those findings in 1977. Dr Jacobson was honoured as the keynote speaker in 1995 at the American Association of Orthodontists and International Congress in San Francisco, California.

Blessed with a teacher's heart, Dr Jacobson's students affectionally called him, “Dr J”. He was a life coach to many of his students and colleagues. He understood human nature, and many sought his sage advice offered with kindness and humility. He will always be fondly remembered as a giant in Orthodontics and a truly caring teacher.

Source: American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics

Dr Arnold Beukes (1930-2020)

One of Mokopane’s well-known residents and Midmar Mile legend Dr Arnold Beukes (BDS 1953) died on 2 December 2020 at the age of 90.Arnold Beukes

The Bosveld Review recorded his astonishing achievement as a master of the Midmar Mile, who completed a record 26 times in the annual event after the swimming bug bit at the age of 60. Last year he competed in the South African Master’s swimming competition in Port Elizabeth and competed in the 50, 100, 200, 400 and 800m crawl as well as 50m backstroke. He walked away with the Victorix Ludorum trophy.

Dr Beukes was born in Nelspruit and moved seven times during his school career because of his teacher father’s various deployments in the then Eastern Transvaal. He matriculated from Ermelo High School, went on to obtain his dentistry degree from Wits in 1953 and practiced for 58 years, retiring at the age of 78, with his wife Mart, at the Piet Potgieter Monument Home in Mokopane.

Source: Bosveld Review

Coomarasamy Nithianathan Pillay (1929-2020)

Dr Coomarasamy Nithianathan “CN” Pillay died at the age of 90 on Christmas Day 2020. He worked for decades at the RK Khan Hospital and was key in the formation of the Chatsworth Regional Hospice.Dr CN Pillay

Dr Pillay was born on 10 July 1929 in Greenwood Park, the child of Kistan and Amurtham Pillay. His father worked in a managerial position at the Coronation Brick and Tile Company in Briardene. His paternal grandfather, Kumarasamy Kistan (KK) Pillay came from a wealthy family of tobacco farmers in India. Aged 17, he left the town of Dindigul and made his way to Madras, caught a ship to Durban – where he landed in the 1880s. As he spoke English, he was employed as a translator. Along with his maternal grandfather, he moved to the Transvaal, where the two men landed a job as chefs, at a hotel frequented by Paul Kruger. KK came back to Durban with a bag of gold sovereigns and bought 14 acres of land, on which they established Greenwood Park. He opened a business in Briardene, serving customers working at Coronation Brick.

Dr Pillay wrote exams to enter high school at a government school in Umgeni Road and was accepted to Sastri College. In Standard 7, he received a book prize The Healing Knife by George Sava, which was his first introduction to surgery and this molded his life. Under a special permit, he was able to study medicine at Wits. He applied for an internship at McCord Zulu Mission Hospital. In 1954, Chief Albert Luthuli was critically ill and was brought to the hospital after suffering a heart attack. Dr Pillay was tasked with spending the night at Chief Luthuli’s bedside, recording his blood pressure every 10 minutes and regulating the IV infusion accordingly.

Dr Pilllay went into private practice in Avoca, Newlands and Harding. He furthered his studies at the Royal College of Surgeons in London and the Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons. He had 30 years of unbroken service at RK Khan Hospital where he retired as principal surgeon in 1992. He became president of the Natal Coastal Branch of the Medical Association of South Africa, was chairperson of the board of Emergency Medical and Rescue Service of KwaZulu-Natal and has served as trustee on various community organisations.  He received a Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Surgeons of South Africa in 2007; as well as a dedicated service in medicine award from the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa and the Mahatma Gandhi award for humanitarian service to the community.

He was described as “the quintessential role-model – high on morals, a stickler for detail, and a technically gifted surgeon. A man who paid close attention to detail, meticulous planning, passion for patients’ rights and commitment to service. The standard set by the surgical departments at RK Khan Hospital was to become the benchmark for other surgical departments and units to emulate.”

He married Dayanithy (Babse) Pillay in 1956 and she died in 2016. He is survived by his three daughters Jayashree, Thikambari and Udeshni and two grandchildren.

Sources: Sunday Tribune and The Witness

Richard Mankowski (1938-2020)

Born in 1938 in the rough industrial world of Kenosha in Lake Michigan, Dr Richard Mankowski (PhD Mech Eng 1983) was raised to be tough and control his emotions.  It is possible that the stutter he developed as a youngster was the involuntary result of curbed sensitivity.  At school he was castigated for his classroom inhibition when teachers heard him speaking normally on the field with his friends. His father, Stan, a self-made man, taught him the practical skills of carpentry, plumbing, building and handling electricity — while standing in water.  Dr Mankowski turned to ham radio in his teens. He built his own radio and learned Morse code — the first of many codes he loved.  Meanwhile his mother Adeline Manko taught him guitar and piano — music being another code.Richard Mankowski

Dr Mankowski didn’t shine academically and left school a bit of a dropout.  He had a four-year spell at Fort Ord in the military (where he volunteered).  There he met one or two mature young men who encouraged him to consider studying further and an African American teacher who inspired in him a love of maths. He passed his university entrance level easily and he registered for a music degree. He finally addressed his speech problem with therapy.  He never looked back, developing a breadth of vocabulary that allowed him to circumvent problem words.

Dr Mankowski first travelled abroad in the early sixties, winding up in Milan, Italy where he met the cultured Cancogni family and learned Italian by ear in no time.  He taught English using the old-fashioned grammar approach while cultivating a love of opera, particularly Verdi’s works.  He married Anna Concogni and had a son, Lance and returned to the States.  Here Dr Mankowski developed a keen interested in maths and registered for a science degree.  He worked part-time at University of Wisconsin and again at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he completed a master’s in mechanical engineering. His marriage fell apart at this stage and Lance went to his grandparents in Italy to be raised as a real Italian American. 

In 1973, shortly after coming to South Africa on a whim, he met Patty at Wits, as a PhD candidate employed as a research assistant. His sense of humour endeared him to many. He could bring out the imp in many a man, unaided by beer, though that also helped. Edward Moss (BSc Eng 1971, MSc Eng 1974, PhD 1985) in mechanical engineering was his first friend and they kept in touch throughout. He married Patty in June 1975, moving to Polokwane and then Tshwane where Dr Mankowski inspired many a rural student in maths. Ethekwini became his final destination where he had a distinguished lecturing career in mechanical engineering at the University of Durban-Westville.

His research and background in music led him into mechanical vibrations, and mining cables; Dr Mankowski’s maths led him to toy with the Fibonacci series of numbers, his final and lasting code. He was fascinated by the configurations of fruits!  His research papers were laboured over so long his wife often said: “Stop polishing the pineapple.” He was admitted to the South African Professional Engineers Council on the strength of designing an original anemometer. Despite his brilliant mind he never undertook professional consultancies outside the University of Durban-Westville but he would make things for friends at his going rate – a six-pack of ambients, as he called his little Castle friends. You don’t often find a genius with the common touch.

The last code Dr Mankowski showed in his own person. It was his dress code – recognised by his students who referred to him as Mr Three Layers because his T-shirt, shirt and sweat shirt hung at different lengths. But as he would say ‘miawy jimyake’ (small potatoes).

He is survived by his wife Patty, two sons Lance and Brett, daughter Peta and five grandchildren.

Source: Patty Mankowski

Yvonne Huskisson (1920-2020)

Dr Yvonne Huskisson (BMus 1951, BA Hons 1952, MSc Mus, PhD 1959) who died on 30 November 2020, aged 90, leaves behind a musical legacy that is unlikely to ever be matched. Her love for music and her insatiable appetite for discovery and research of ethnic music took her beyond South Africa's borders and even beyond those of the African continent. After graduating from Wits University, she started her career as a lecturer in music at Wits and Potchefstroom and obtained her doctoral degree in the social and ceremonial music of the Pedi, something unheard of during the 1950s.Dr Yvonne Huskisson (pic:SouthCoastHerald)

Dr Huskisson travelled extensively in African countries as the leading ethnomusicologist with the SABC and built, over 35 years an extensive music library for the nine ethnic languages in Southern Africa. At the SABC she met and married Hugh Campbell, a sound engineer who would often accompany her on her trips recording the music. Dr Huskisson documented almost 7 000 compositions by black composers for Radio Bantu, thus enabling them to register copyright and to enjoy proper recognition for their work. She published a four-volume Encyclopedia of South African Musicians, in addition to several books on ‘Bantu composers.’ While these are important historical documents, Huskisson's perspective was shaped by her position inside the government-controlled environment of apartheid broadcasting. Through her efforts as head of the SABC’s transcription services, the isicathamiya group Ladysmith Black Mambazo made their first recordings in 1969.

After her retirement Dr Huskisson frequently used her family's home in Hong Kong as a base to venture out into the far reaches of the Asian continent, to track down rarely heard of musical instruments and their players. Whether it involved arduous travel and hiking into inaccessible mountain areas of Yunnan province in China, long and uncomfortable journeys to Tibet or extensive field trips to Cambodia, Thailand and other places, she would not rest until she had, often at great personal hardship and discomfort, tracked down that 'one last musician', that 'very rare musical ensemble' or that 'hardly ever heard of instrument'. Dr Huskisson would deeply connect with people she did not know, people whose language and customs she had never before come into contact with, always using her musical passion as her shield and charm. Besides her determination, resilience and uncanny worldliness she would astonish by her ability to connect and establish true, lasting friendships with people who she had never before met and whose language she did not speak.

When she settled in Umtentweni, she became a true South Coast Hospice friend and supporter. She was fondly known as 'Doc' to the hospice teams over the years. Together with South Coast Hospice founder Kath Defilippi, they started Voices for Hospice, which became a popular annual international event celebrated around the world in October, bringing awareness to communities about palliative care as well as hospices. In all this, her vision was to bring young people together. Rural schools took part and the event reflected the ethos of hospice being multiracial and inclusive of all.

Sources: South Coast Herald and Politicsweb

Irvin Alexander Lampert (1941-2020)

Irvin Alexander Lampert (MBBCh 1964), “Irv” as he became known to his friends and colleagues, was born in Johannesburg in November 1941.   He was educated — and matriculated in the first class with three distinctions in 1958 — at King Edward School in Johannesburg. He entered the Wits Medical School in January 1959 and ultimately specialised as a pathologist. Dr Lampert worked briefly as a junior doctor in Johannesburg and in the late 1960s left for London. He met, and in 1971, married Dr Jo Boxer. In his later years, he was treated for bladder cancer, which eventually resulted in renal failure, and he died on 17 October 2020. Jo and their two children and two grandchildren, survive him.   

Dr Lampert spoke vividly of his early South African medical experiences — particularly in relation to his period at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. He was clearly deeply traumatised by the high incidence of children dying of famine. He spoke, too, of the violence around him. This, as much as anything else, governed his decision to pursue a career as a pathologist despite the early encouragement he received from his boss, Dr Moses Suzman (DSc honoris causa 1972) (Helen Suzman’s husband) to pursue a career in clinical medicine.

On his arrival in England, he first took up a post at the Nottingham University Hospital where he was mentored by Prof Ken Weinbren. Subsequently, he studied for – and attained - his Diploma in Clinical Pathology at Hammersmith Hospital, in London. Here he made lifelong friends and in due course became a consultant and lecturer. He subsequently gained his Membership of the Royal College of Pathology, becoming an FRCPath (Fellow). He was a senior lecturer at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, and at Hammersmith Hospital, and retained this honorary post until retirement. He was also a National Medical Examiner for maternal deaths for several years. In addition, Dr Lampert was the joint author of Bone Marrow Pathology, the definitive work on the subject on which he continued to work when he returned to the Hammersmith for his final working years, after leaving Ealing.

He moved to Ealing Hospital in the early 1980s where he started research, in addition to his full time diagnostic work, and became involved in working voluntarily with clinicians in Malawi and with his long-term collaborator, Dr Susan van Noorden.

In pursuit of this work, he visited hospitals in Malawi to see first hand the children suffering from Burkitt’s Lymphoma, diagnoses he had confirmed after analysing the specimens sent to him in London. Such diagnoses were frequently instrumental in enabling the patients to be treated and cured.

It was widely agreed amongst his colleagues and his family, that Dr Lampert possessed personal and intellectual integrity, even if speaking his mind could irritate people. He was a faithful and very affectionate husband, with whom life was described as always interesting, if sometimes noisy!

He was hugely knowledgeable with an unrivalled thirst for learning, covering a huge and diverse field.  By the 1970s he had already become interested in computing, and in his forties he taught himself to code. In retirement, he extended this intellectual skill by learning additional computer languages. He also learnt to read  music, specifically intended to enhance his joy of singing in a choir. 

Dr Lampert was also always abreast of politics, not just in the UK but elsewhere around the world.  His children recall – now with good humour – having to endure on a family holiday to America, visiting Civil War battle fields instead of Disney World! 

He was not always an easy person, but all would agree that he was an immensely warm and generous man. A huge number of condolence messages were received from colleagues, friends and family around the world, invariably paying tribute to him as warm, humorous and generous. He died just short of 79, possessed of all his intellectual faculties and, sadly, with still so much to give. 

Source: Professor Harry Rajak (BA 1962, LLB 1964)

Dr Praneel Ruplal (1975-2020)

Dr Praneel Ruplal (MM 2008, PhD 2018) passed away on 30 December 2020 at the age of 45. He was a valued member of ICASA and held the position of Executive: Engineering & Technology. Dr Ruplal Praneel

Dr Luci Abrahams, Director of the LINK Centre at Wits, wrote that he was a “a top student and committed regulatory professional who completed two postgraduate degrees at the Wits LINK Centre.”

“Praneel was articulate, mindful, and took easily to academic study. He loved ideas as much as he enjoyed acquiring technical proficiency. He lectured on LINK's Telecoms Policy, Regulation and Management course for many years, and acted as external examiner for the coursework modules of LINK's Master of Arts in ICT Policy and Regulation (MA ICTPR).

“Amongst his many contributions to his fellow professionals studying at the LINK Centre, there is one specific contribution that stands out. Praneel used the Atlas.ti data analytics tool, with great skill, in the writing and presentation of his PhD thesis. In our regular, monthly Saturday research seminars for postgraduate students, whenever we discussed the use of Atlas.ti for data analysis, I was guided by Praneel and his work, or recommended that students download and read his thesis.

“Praneel's work will continue to be a light to all in this student community of interdisciplinary digital economy studies. Praneel was a leader in this student community, in the electronic communications sector, through his work at ICASA; and also, clearly, in his familial and social circles, noting the beautiful tributes read for him.”

Jacqueline Whitaker (1950 – 2020)

Jacqueline Whitaker (BA 1969, Hons 1971) died suddenly in London in March 2020, aged 70. She was an inspirational English teacher for more than two decades at King’s College School, Wimbledon, one of Britain’s leading independent schools. Her appointment as the first woman in the English department broke gender barriers at a time when all the pupils were male, and female staff could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Jacqueline Whitaker

Whitaker “quickly established a reputation for academic rigour and scrupulous dedication in her teaching”, said the school’s tribute to her. Her sixth form classes “were renowned for her passionate, learned, thoroughly prepared teaching of a wide range of texts, and especially for her illuminating teaching of Anglo-Irish and post-colonial literature, poetry and Shakespeare, including voluntary advanced teaching for all those pupils applying to read English at university, as well as generous support for students who found English a more challenging subject to study. Many former students will recall these classes with immense gratitude and affection.”

One of those former students, the moral philosopher James Mumford, wrote in The Tablet magazine that her primary purpose was “that curious, beautiful dialectical relationship between instilling in pupils a love of learning and imparting the skills so they could pursue that passion for themselves”.

A devoted theatregoer, Whitaker took a residential course for teachers with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon (which included a visit to Prince Charles at his Highgrove residence), led annual study visits to Stratford for sixth-form students and organised the English department’s visits to London theatres by pupils. She played an important part in Britain in Print, a project to make original texts held in British libraries, including Shakespeare plays, available for study online.

After retirement in 2009, Jacqueline pursued her other great passion, art. She took an MA in Art History at the University of Buckingham, submitting her dissertation on the Italian Baroque painter, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino. She volunteered at the Royal Academy and, after moving to Dulwich in south London, at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, studying Italian and Dutch to deepen her understanding of the gallery’s classical collection.

Born in Ireland to James and Joan Henderson (née Durant), Whitaker emigrated to South Africa with her family when she was eight. After matriculating at Yeoville Convent, Johannesburg, she took her BA in English and German, and worked in Switzerland for a year before returning to Wits to take English Honours. Her course was punctuated by marriage to Raymond, a journalist, in 1971. Their first child arrived a year later. She had taken her teacher’s qualification at Wits and given birth to a second child by the time the family left for Britain in 1977.

In London, after having a third child, Whitaker began teaching in girls’ schools before applying to King’s, where the head of the English department had said he would appoint a woman “over his dead body”. But they became the best of friends, and she made the switch from an almost entirely female teaching environment to an almost all-male one with aplomb.

She is survived by Raymond, their children, Catherine, Martin and Michael, four grandchildren, and her sisters Stephanie and Philippa.

Source: Raymond Whitaker (BA 1969)

Tracy Claire (née Moolman) Pearson (1977-2020)Tracy Claire Pearson

Tracy Pearson (BA 1999) died suddenly from a pulmonary artery aneurysm on 10 June 2020.

She completed her schooling at Benoni High School and described her years at Wits as some of the best of her life. After teaching high school pupils for a few years, she started her own adult training business, Ingwe Corporate Training and eventually joined Dale Carnegie Training as account manager and facilitated training for many corporates.

She is survived by her heartbroken children, Chloe and Troy; her parents Marianne and Henry Moolman; brother Matthew Moolman and family;  grandmother Joyce Berman, aunts Jane and Claire Berman and Uncle Steven Baker.

Source: Dr Claire Berman (MBBCh 1975)

Fabrizio Marsicano (1947-2020)

Physical chemist Professor Fabrizio Marsicano (BSc 1970, PhD 1973) who worked in the Wits Department of Chemistry for 20 years, died on 29 December 2020. He was born on 20 November 1947 and matriculated at Jeppe Boys’ High School. After he graduated with a PhD in Chemistry in 1973.  He initially worked as a chemist at research institute MINTEK, after which, in 1977, he embarked on an academic career as a lecturer at Natal University, where he remained until 1988, before taking up a post as an Associate Professor at Wits. He was at Wits for 20 years until his early retirement due to Parkinsons’ disease. He was a physical chemist, and his research at Wits was in the field of the computational modelling of molecules. Over the course of his academic career, he lectured thousands of students and supervised a number of research degree candidates. A dynamic and popular lecturer, he is still fondly remembered by students. 

Source: Deborah Marsicano (BSc Eng 1993)

Eric Furman (1934-2020)

Dr Eric Furman (MBBCh 1958, DOH 1963) passed away at home in the care of his wife and daughter. Born and raised in Johannesburg, Dr Furman was a paediatric anaesthesiologist for 54 years, who is credited for innovating surgical techniques employed internationally. As chief of anaesthesia and medical director for most of his career in Seattle, Forth Worth, and Tulsa, he devoted his 54 years to the health and safety of his young patients and to teaching generations of doctors. Despite his demanding career, Dr Furman made his family his top priority. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, June, their three children, and granddaughters.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Heinrich Pietersen Rauch (1930-2020)

One of the giants in the field of geotechnical engineering, Heinrich Rauch (BSc Eng 1951, MSc Eng 1958) passed away on 4 October 2020.

Rauch’s fascinations with trains began as boy standing along the railway fence in his hometown of Trompsburg, Free State. He collected O-gauge Lionel model trains and build stations, signal cabins, bridges and tunnels for them. Rauch’s family moved to Johannesburg in 1933 because of the impact of the Great Depression. After matriculating from Germiston High School, he enrolled at Wits and applied for a South African Railway and Harbours (SAR&H) bursary.

One of his first projects was supervising the construction of one of the first caisson designed foundations of a railway bridge over the Vaal River near Vereeniging. He discovered his love for geology and geotechnical engineering. He completed his MSc in 1958 under the supervision of Professor Jeremiah Jennings (DSc honoris causa 1978) and for the next 50 years he remained the final year soil mechanics examiner.

Rauch established the SAR&H’s Geotechnical Department – and helped develop technical standards for soils and materials testing for railway formation design. Many respected specialist engineers learned from him. During the boom period of the mid-70s to mid-80s, Rauch’s department was considered as the centre of soil mechanics and foundation engineering excellence. The SAR Soils Index system, characterised by simple, yet solid geomechanics tests, enabled engineers to plan and execute earthworks and material selection with proficiency and it has stood the test of time.

Rauch was one of a team of Assistant Honorary Editors of the SAICE Journal between 1978-1968 – meticulously executing his duties in the days before computers.

He was described as “a visionary man. A strong, clear-thinking engineer. A committed mentor. A true son of the land. Engineering was enriched through his labours.”

His mother, Dr Johanna Victoria Rauch was a lecturer in the faculty of medicine during the early 1950s. His son Johann (BSc Eng 1979) and granddaughter, Christine (BPharm 2005) are proud Wits graduates.

He is survived by his wife Elmine, three sons, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Sources: Johann Rauch and Evan Giles, Civil Engineering

Oupa Motaung (1970-2020)

Oupa Motaung (BProc 1995, LLB 1997, HDip CoLaw 1998, LLM 2000) passed away on 28 September 2020 as a result of COVID-19 related complications. He practised as an attorney and, later, as a director of MMM Attorneys in Sandton, until the end of 2016.

On 11 July 2017, he was admitted as an advocate and started his pupillage with Fana Nalane SC. On 4 December that year, Motaung joined the JSA and became a member of Group One, at Sandown Village and later joined the Rivonia Group, holding chambers at 2 Pybus Road.

On 26 May 2018, Motaung was appointed as a member of the board of Transnet, where he served with distinction until his untimely death. He played a crucial role in ensuring stability at Transnet at a difficult time and established a platform in the organisation to improve both its governance and commercial performance.

Motaung rose to prominence from his humble beginnings as a farm labourer's son. “Throughout his youth, he had done jobs for extra money to afford his basic education and, later, to pursue his studies. As a boy, he milked cows and mowed the lawn on the farm, at university he had no qualms about cleaning toilets. We will remember him as a soft-spoken, decent, well-mannered and hardworking person. Through his death, the Bar has lost a strong juristic mind, a courageous fighter against state capture and, above all, a man of exemplary integrity,” wrote advocate Sarel Bekker, a colleague.

He is survived by his wife, Mabotsa, and their four children.

Source: Sarel Bekker SC, Advocate magazine

Lovell Fernandez (1950-2020)

Leading legal scholar in the field of transitional justice Professor Lovell Fernandez (PhD 1986) died on 18 December 2020.

He was a member of the Board of Directors at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and one of its founding board members. Prof Fernandez played a pivotal role in guiding the institute from its initial focus on facilitating dialogue in post-apartheid South Africa, to its current expanded scope across the African continent.

The IJR board chairperson, Glenda Wildschut, said: “Prof Fernandez’s incisive and astute knowledge of the law brought enriched deliberations on the board. He will be remembered for his quiet yet firm manner and long-standing commitment to IJR.”

Prof Fernandez attained his BA Law and LLB degrees from the University of the Western Cape in the 1970s, as well as a Master’s degree in Comparative Law from New York University. He obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy (Law) from Wits. He lived in exile in Germany from 1978 until 1990, studying at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, and working for Amnesty International as well as the Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People. He returned to South Africa in 1990.

Prof Fernandez became a member of the UWC academic staff in the early 1990s until his retirement in 2015. He was seconded to the Department of Justice in 1996 and 1997 as an adviser to the then Minister of Justice, Dullah Omar. At the time of his retirement, he was a Professor of Law in the Department of Criminal Justice and Procedure. During his tenure, he served inter alia as Head of Department, as Deputy Dean of the Faculty, and as the UWC Director of the SA-German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice.

Source: Institute for Justice and Reconciliation

Eric Glover ( - 2020)

Eric Glover, who came to Wits in 1967 as assistant registrar of staffing, died in Johannesburg in September 2020.

Eric came from Northern Ireland, where he was born in the town of Larne in 1941, and where he studied at Queen’s University, Belfast for a BA Hons in geography. He worked at Queen’s in the Finance Department before coming to Wits. Several years after his initial appointment at Wits, he became the registrar of staffing and then of staffing and planning.Eric Glover

In 1972 he was granted special leave to study for an MBA degree at Strathclyde University, Glasgow. After he was awarded the degree in 1973 he returned to Wits. During his tenure the staffing office more than trebled in size as both the student numbers and the staff complement grew.

In the late 1970s the University acquired the Milner Park showgrounds, which enabled it to expand to more than double the size of the original Milner Park campus. An enormous amount of planning and reconstruction were required to make the new area suitable for university activities. Eric was the person responsible for leading the team which accomplished this herculean task. Another of his accomplishments was the nurturing of BUWA (the Black University Workers Association) which was the first formal association of black University workers. Eric was also made chairman of the University Building Committee. Because of his experience with the re-development of the West Campus, as the former showgrounds became known, he was asked to serve as a member of the Council of the newly formed University of Bophuthatswana. In 1984 Eric moved to IBM South Africa where he was programme manager strategic planning and in 1984 also a part-time small business consultant.

In 2008 Eric was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he made every effort to follow exercise programmes to slow the progression of this degenerative condition. He is survived by his wife, Sue (BPrimEd 1988), and daughters Kerry (MA 2020) and Joanna and grandsons Zak (4) and Daniel (2). 

Source: Maeve Hersman

Abraham Lionel Clingman (1927-2020)

Abraham Lionel Clingman (BSc 1948, BSc Hons 1951, MSc 1953) passed away peacefully after complications of a fall on 15 July 2020 in Balitmore, Maryland in the United States.

Clingman was born on 22 April 1927 in Johannesburg to Charles and Vivien Clingman. His family was part of the small but prominent community of Latvian Jewish immigrants. His generation was the first of his family to attend university. In 1956 he married Eve (née Kallir) and they immigrated to the United States in 1961, settling in Wilmington, Delaware in with their three children. Clingman was a voracious reader, and also loved classical music, especially Mozart, Haydn, and Handel. He had a great affection for animals. In his later years, he took up watercolour painting.

He is survived by his children, Michael (Lorena), Eliot and Judy.
Source: Delaware Online

In Memoriam 2020 cntd

Solomon Elias Levin (1929-2020)

Professor Solomon Levin (MBBCh 1951) passed away on 12 July 2020 at the age of 91, a mere 11 days after his wife Cynthia.

Prof, or Solly, as he was fondly referred to, was a giant of a man. He was a gentleman who influenced countless students, registrars and fellows over a career which spanned close to 70 years. His reputation was far-reaching, and he made many close friends with most of the top paediatric cardiologists around the world. He willingly imparted, simplified and brought to life the fascinating field in cardiology. 

He was born in Johannesburg on 2 April 1929. After schooling at Boksburg High School, he matriculated at the meagre age of 15 years with a first-class pass. He qualified as a doctor from the University of the Witwatersrand in November 1950 at the age of 20. However, he had to wait another six months until he turned 21 before being allowed to graduate. While waiting to qualify, he joined the Department of Physiology at the Wits Medical School before commencing his internship year which was spent at Baragwanath Hospital in Medicine, Surgery and Paediatrics.

From 1953 to 1956 he studied in England working in the Paediatric Department at Guy’s and Hammersmith hospitals, as well as in the Departments of Pathology and Infectious Diseases. In 1957, Prof joined the Department of Paediatrics at Wits and completed his registrar time in 1960. Taking his studies further, Prof went on to do a Diploma in Child Health (DCH) in London in 1955 and then qualified with an MRCP in 1956 and thereafter an FRCP in 1972 (at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh).

As a consultant he worked in the Paediatric Department at Baragwanath Hospital from 1960 and then he moved across to the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for children in 1965, where he remained until 1978.

In 1968, he was awarded the Cecil John Adams Memorial trust travelling fellowship which enabled him to spend a year at the Children’s Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University, Chicago as a fellow in the Department of Paediatric Cardiology. From 1970 to 1978 he was appointed as a Principal Paediatrician in the Department of Paediatrics at the TMH and then at the Johannesburg Hospital from 1978 until 1992. In 1974, he was appointed an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics and then in 1978, ad Hominem Professor of Paediatric Cardiology through Wits. At the age of 64 Prof went into private practice but maintained a more than active part-time academic presence at the Johannesburg General Hospital until 1998, having had an illustrious academic career of 41 years.

Prof never really retired at all and he continued to teach students and registrars with the same enthusiasm. He maintained an ongoing interest in academic medicine and continued to contribute and present at our regular journal club meetings. He was never too old to learn new things and was always excited to hear about new cases and the new technology.

Prof’s contribution to the world of academia remains legendary and he published well over 120 articles in both local and overseas journals including seven chapters in books.

In addition, he participated on the editorial board of the Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiology in the Young journals.

He received many awards during his career. In 1995, the Paediatric Cardiac Society of South Africa acknowledged his contribution to the field of paediatric cardiology. In 1998 the Johannesburg branch of the South African Heart Association also acknowledged and recognised his service in the advancement of Paediatric Cardiology in South Africa. Wits conferred on him the title of Emeritus Professor of Paediatric Cardiology in 1998 and in 2002 he received in Exceptional Service Medal from the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences. 

Prof lived through the era of vectoragrams, reams of unrecognisable M-mode tracings as well as the first diagnostic cardiac catheterisations in children in South Africa. Angiograms were developed in a dark room and stockpiled to the roof in the Department. These were viewed on a temperamental projector, which only Prof knew how to control.

Prof’s clinical skills and auscultatory prowess would often outshine the findings of the ultrasound in the early days. His knowledge, energy and passion for his speciality was unmatched. The registrars used to joke that “what Prof had forgotten, we had yet to learn”.

Past registrars will fondly remember his ward rounds and teachings that would go on late into the night. Unfortunately, Prof had no sense of time and ward rounds would only end when he would get an irate phone call from Cynthia telling him that he was late for dinner.

I can clearly remember him coming to do ward rounds on a Sunday morning after playing tennis and walking into the neonatal ICU with his skinny legs protruding from his buttoned up, neatly ironed white coat.

He stood for fairness and equal opportunity for all. He had strong feelings against any form of discrimination and sexism. He showed respect for everybody regardless of their position or standing in society. He was compassionate and he also had the ability to laugh at himself with a great sense of humour.

He was a kind and wonderful husband to Cynthia, a caring and interested father to his three accomplished children, Bethia, Trevor and Haidee as well as a doting grandparent to numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of whom he was so proud.

He was a deeply religious man and actively participated in synagogue activities and was loved, admired and respected by his fellow congregants.

Although Prof Solly’s passing leaves a void in many doctors’ lives, his legacy lives on within us and we will continue to carry the wonderful memories of him and will cherish the time we had together.

Source: Dr Jeff Harrisberg (MBBCh 1981, DTM&H 1987)

Pearl Golda Colman (1916 – 2020)

Pearl Golda Colman (BCom 1937, BA 1959; BA Hons 1960, MA 1963) passed away in New York on 21 July  2020 at the age of 104 years and three months.  A true #Witsie4Life, Pearl was educated at Wits, and served on the staff at Wits (1967 to 1980) as founding director of the Student Counselling Service.  She and her husband, Harry (BA 1936, LLB 1938) were the first members of both their families to go to university, and they were followed to Wits by their three siblings, their three sons, and by many nephews and nieces.  

Pearl was born in Johannesburg on 23 April 1916, the eldest child of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, Aaron and Sophie (Shear) Kessel.  She had an amazing and productive life, with wonderful experiences of family, travel, and personal achievements, punctuated by the tragic early deaths of three people very close to her – her husband of 26 years, Harry, who died suddenly at age 52 in 1966; her 16-year-old grandson, Sean, who died in an auto-accident in 1998; and her middle son, Neville, who passed away at age 57, in 2003, from cancer. Image:Jenny Jimenez

Pearl was gregarious, socially active, and committed to community-support activities throughout her life.  She easily made and maintained friendships and kept a close circle of life-long friends, all of whom she outlived.  She was a serious and high-achieving student at school, the 1933 Dux Scholae at Germiston High School, and displayed this temperament at Wits too.  She participated in extracurricular activities and sports, playing field hockey and tennis in high school, continued with tennis and golf as an adult, and captained the women’s golf section of her local club into her 40s.  Before marriage, she taught at Union College, and after her marriage in 1939, she and Harry established their home in Germiston, near both their parents, and raised a family of three sons.  In her early 40s, with her sons in school, Pearl decided to return to Wits to commence a new career in psychology – at that time a very unusual path for a married woman with a family and children in school.  After graduating and completing clinical training and a clinical internship at Tara, Pearl took her first position as a clinical psychologist at the Johannesburg Child Guidance Clinic.  It was probably that full-time position which helped Pearl adjust to the sudden loss of her husband, Harry, an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar and part-time lecturer in the Faculty of Law with expertise in civil procedure and evidence.

In about 1967, Professor Ian Douglas MacCrone, who had been one of her mentors and head of psychology at Wits, was appointed Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University.  He invited Pearl to join the staff at Wits and founded the first on-campus student counselling service at a South African university, modelled on similar programs in the USA.  Pearl eagerly accepted the position, and set her career course for the next decade, retiring from Wits in 1980 at the age of 65. 

She decided then to move to the US, where all three of her children had settled, and she established her new home in Irvine, California.  Soon after settling into her new surroundings, Pearl embarked on the next phase of her career.  Lacking a PhD degree, she could not get licensed as a clinical psychologist in California, so she settled on the best alternative, getting herself certified as a child, family, and marriage counsellor, and commenced a new career working for a youth counselling service in Orange County, California.  Pearl worked full-time for the agency, including evening sessions to enable her young clients to attend school, and she worked closely with local police officers – with the shared objectives of redirecting young folks who had been charged with non-felony offences, to keep them out of the juvenile detention system and jail. 

Pearl finally retired from full-time employment in 1996, at the age of 80.  At that time, her two California grandchildren, to whom she had been very close through high school, had both moved out of state for graduate school, and Pearl moved to New York to be closer to her younger grandchildren.  Starting a new phase of her life in New York, Pearl quickly made friends with whom she played bridge, exercised regularly, and volunteered at the local Community Center.  When asked what she did at the Community Center, Pearl answered, quite seriously, “I help feed the old people!”  By then in her late 80s and early 90s, Pearl never saw herself as old.  She read voraciously, listened to music, and travelled extensively, within the US and abroad, often with her sister and brother-in-law, Rose and Syd Cohen.  Up to age 96, Pearl travelled almost every year to visit family in the US, and friends and family in England, Israel, and South Africa. 

Through to her late 90s, Pearl lived independently in a “granny flat”, built as an integral part of the home of her son, Robin, and daughter-in-law, Clare.  She drove herself around the local neighborhood until she was about 90.  She cooked dinners three times weekly for her family into her mid-90s.  Her energy and enthusiasm for life were maintained until her late 90s, when she began to show early signs of neuro-cognitive decline, resulting in an inevitable slowing down and disconnection from the activities that she had loved and enjoyed, and she needed help with the activities of daily living.  She, and her family, were very fortunate to have a dedicated full-time caregiver, Pauline Tenn, who took care of Pearl for the last six years of her life and enabled her to stay at home in her “granny flat” until the end.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions many family members were unable to travel, and Pearl was buried in a private ceremony at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York, with her New York family and Pauline in attendance, and others able to participate remotely through an audio-video link.  A slightly larger Zoom memorial was held several days later, coordinated through University Synagogue, Irvine, where Pearl had been a member before she moved to New York.

Pearl was predeceased by her parents, husband, Harry (1966), grandson, Sean (1998), and son, Neville (2003).  Her survivors include her son, Martin, and wife, Elinor; daughter in law, Glenys Lobban; son, Robin, and wife, Clare; 6 Grandchildren, Howard (Paula), Laurence (Alison), Stephen, Timothy (Liam Miller), Catherine (Tom Lawrie), and Jenna; and 9 great grandchildren, Ryan, Olivia, Amelia, Olive, Isaac, Mya, Ella, Hannah, and Alexander.    

Source: Martin Colman (MBBCh 1964; MMed  1971)

Helen Christina Mileham (1972-2020)

Helen Mileham (née Richards) passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from COVID-19 complications on 28 June 2020. She was 47 years old.

Helen qualified from Wits with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree in 1994. Schooled at Northcliff High School, she worked hard to get into pharmacy. She excelled during her years at medical school and graduated as one of the top pharmacy students in her class. Her love for pharmacy and the profession was evident very early on and her desire to help sick people was her overarching passion. Helen completed her internship in 1995 and went on to become a very successful, well-liked and respected pharmacist with a massive following. 

Helen met her husband David Mileham, who was also studying pharmacy, while at medical school and they married in 1997. Together, they have both worked for the Medicare Group of Pharmacies in Johannesburg for over 20 years.

Helen suffered from debilitating auto-immune diseases which made standing on her feet excruciatingly painful. Yet her desire to provide the best possible medical care to her patients and never wanting to let them down, kept her going back every single day. Her outstanding knowledge and professionalism, together with the relationships she held with her patients will remain her legacy. 

Helen is survived by her husband, David, her daughter Paige and son Braydon.

Professor Lungile Pepeta (1974-2020)

Professor Lungile Pepeta (MMed 2010) was the Executive Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Nelson Mandela University and had recently been appointed as Chairman of the Council for Medical Schemes when he passed away suddenly of COVID-19 related complications on 7 August 2020.

Professor Pepeta, born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape, was a respected paediatric cardiologist. He completed his MBChB at the University of the Transkei, now Walter Sisulu University, in 1997, and obtained a diploma in child healthcare in 1999. He qualified as a paediatrician in 2003 and worked in Komani in Queenstown, before returning to study at Wits and the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital to qualify as a pediatric cardiologist in 2008. 

In 2009 he moved to Port Elizabeth, where he set up the first paediatric cardiology unit at the city’s provincial hospital. Children who were born with congenital heart disease, a condition with an abnormally high incidence in the province, no longer had to go the Red Cross Memorial Hospital in Cape Town for open-heart surgery – instead, their heart problems could be sorted out with a two-hour procedure, often even shorter, and an overnight hospital stay. At the time of his death, Professor Pepeta was completing a PhD in paediatrics from Stellenbosch University.

In 2010 he was appointed head of the paediatrics department at Dora Nginza Hospital in PE’s Zwide township.

In 2012, when severe staff shortages in Nelson Mandela Bay threatened the collapse of the public health system in the metro, Pepeta, along with veteran cardiologist Dr Basil Brown and surgeon Dr Sats Pillay, took the department on in a press conference organised in contravention of departmental regulations. They were threatened with disciplinary charges and dismissal. Pointing at his warning letter, Pepeta laughed his trademark laugh: “Let them try,” he said.

In 2014, after the hospital was flagged for its extremely high death rate among babies and children, Pepeta publicly criticised the Eastern Cape health department’s failure to provide his unit with R5-million worth of life-saving equipment.

Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health, said: “SA has lost one of her best sons — confident, knowledgeable, articulate and inspiring ... one of the top thinkers, a brilliant mind, an outstanding academic and a pioneering researcher. He was a visionary who held high hopes for our country and an innovator who always harboured dreams of a better SA and spent time figuring out strategies to take this nation to the future of his ideals.”

At his funeral, many colleagues spoke of his fearless fight for a medical school for rural doctors and dreams of a better public healthcare system in the Eastern Cape. He will also be remembered for his fondness for sending messages with exclamation marks. On 28 June, in one of his last Facebook posts, he posted a picture of himself and his team in full protective gear about to perform an emergency procedure on a baby, with the caption: “We shall soldier on Covid-19 or not!!!”

Source: Daily Maverick

Peter Bold (1939-2020)

Peter Bold (BArch 1967) passed away on 27 June 2020 after a short illness at the age of 81.

He was born on 6 February 1939 and graduated from Wits University in 1967 with a degree in architecture. Bold was a founding member of an architectural practice with George Rhodes-Harrison and Robin Fee and became a joint senior partner in 1981 with the prime responsibility for Practice Management and Administration.

It is not surprising that Bold eventually left his very successful architectural practice and became involved in the workings of the Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC) on a voluntary basis some 34 years ago having specialised in computer and CAD applications at a time when there were no personal computers, let alone laptops, tablets and smart phones.

Bold became the first full time executive of the fledgling Section 21 Company in 1997 and through his sterling efforts, ably assisted by then Chairman, Dave Mitchell, put the JBCC onto a very sound footing. With the aid of the Technical Committee, he introduced the construction industry to the 1991 Principal Building Agreement and associated documents and followed this up with the 2000 Series of building agreements.

Bold developed a peculiarity of sharing knowledge and assisting other practitioners which he followed throughout his tenure as the CEO of the JBCC and which was particularly evident through his regular JBCC workshops, seminars and frequently asked questions.

On occasions he appeared to be stubborn when asked to make changes to the JBCC documents, had some heated arguments with certain committee members at the Technical Committee meetings but always acted fairly and in the spirit of agreeing all technical matters by consensus for the good of the documents and the JBCC in general.

Bold retired as the CEO of the JBCC in February 2011 to enjoy a well-deserved retirement and to pursue his other interests.

He is survived by his wife Alison and daughter Monica.

Sources: Stan Segal (JBCC immediate past chairman), The Association of South African Quantity Surveyors

Ralph Hirsh Zulman (1938-2020)

Honorable Justice Ralph Zulman (BCom 1959, LLB 1961, HDipTaxLaw) passed away in Johannesburg on 13 August from medical complications caused by COVID-19.

Justice Zulman was born 23 September 1938 in Durban. His parents Mosie and Annie Zulman were founding members of the Oxford Shul after they moved to Johannesburg.

As an advocate (barrister) beginning in 1962, he had a well-established practice as senior counsel at the Johannesburg Bar. Later, Justice Zulman was appointed to the Bench as a Supreme Court (now High Court) judge. In August 1996, about 24 years ago, then President Nelson Mandela appointed him to be a judge of the then Appellate Division (now Supreme Court of Appeal) in Bloemfontein. 

In 2010, Zulman was invited by the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS) Weinstein Fellowship Foundation to present a fellowship lecture on conflict resolution in the United States.

Justice Zulman was an internationally renowned expert on cross-border insolvency matters. He represented South Africa at the forum of cross-border insolvency of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“the Model Law”).

The South African Jewish Report wrote that a highly esteemed colleague, The Honourable Michael D Kirby AC CMG, who retired from the High Court of Australia in 2009, presented Justice Zulman a copy of a book he had authored. In it, Kirby inscribed, “For Ralph, whose big-heartedness, generosity of spirit, good humour, and high intelligence are an example to other judges, and an inspiration.”

Justice Zulman had a long relationship with Wits, serving as SRC member, Vice-Chairman of the Wits RAG Committee and Chairman of the Wits Constitution Committee and the Law Students Council. He continued his relationship as Honorary Professor with equality training at Centre for Applied Legal Studies, a lecturer, member of the alumni committee as well as a Convocation member. He has held a number of positions that include Chairman of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa, Honorary Professor at the University of Connecticut in the US and New South Wales University in Australia as well as Chairman of the Supreme Court Rules Board.

Justice Zulman is survived by his wife, Lynette, whom he married in 1965, son Jeff Zulman (BA 1988), daughters Adrienne Louise Kaplan and Charlene Hilary Wingrin, and their families.

Source: Anthony Chait, South African Jewish Report

John Ferguson (1933-2020)

Geoscientist, adventurer and avid bird watcher John Ferguson (BSc 1956, PhD 1967, DSc 1975) passed away peacefully on 10 July at his home in Whiskers Hill, Carwoola, New South Wales in Australia.

Dr Ferguson was born 16 February 1933 and educated at King Edward VII School. His exposure to geological wonders such as the Witwatersrand Basin, the Vredefort Circular Structure and the Bushveld Complex as an undergraduate at Wits from 1952 to 1955, ignited Dr Ferguson’s lifelong interest in similar structures elsewhere in the world.

After he completed an MSc at McGill University, Montreal in Canada in 1958, his Scandinavian professor-supervisor invited him to join the newly created Greenland Geological Survey. This was an adventure Dr Ferguson relished, despite the requirements of carrying a 35kg rucksack daily for 10 hours, fishing for one’s supper and sharing a tent for fourth months. He was involved in a helicopter crash in his first field season and spent a year-and-a-half in recovery before returning to Greenland.

He was back in South Africa at the Geology Department from 1962 till 1974 when he emigrated to Australia to join the Federal Geological Survey (Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR), now Geoscience Australia). In 1975, Wits awarded him an honorary doctorate for his outstanding sustained research. He left BMR in 1985 turning to focus on small, listed mineral exploration. This led him back to Greenland, where mining exploration was encouraged. He was named “Greenland Prospector and Developer of the Year for 2011,” by the Government of Greenland in recognition for his initiative and innovation.

During his lifetime Dr Ferguson explored Southern Africa, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Mongolia, China and Australia for diamonds, gold, platinum group elements, base metals, coal, uranium, and heavy mineral sands. He was a Reader-Professor at Wits, Chief Scientist at the BMR, Geology and Geophysics in Canberra, a National Research Council Fellow at the Canadian Geological Survey and a Life Fellow of the Geological Society of South Africa. Dr Ferguson had unique skills and extensive knowledge in mineral exploration. He was a lateral thinker who published widely and played an essential role in a number of world-class mineral discoveries.

He is survived by his sister Cynthia Makin; his first wife Gillian Ferguson, his children Miles, Sarah, Luke and Marcus; grandchildren Aidan and Elliot.

Source: John Rowntree and John Truswell

Hertzog (Harry) Berzen (1929-2020)

Herzog (Harry) Berzen (MBBCh 1951) was born on a farm in Slangfontein, Vereeniging as one of seven children. In 1945 he matriculated from Athlone High School in Johannesburg at the aged of 16.

After obtaining his medical degree from Wits, Dr Berzen worked for three years at the Johannesburg General and Germiston hospitals. He went to England in 1955 and completed his Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons in Edinburgh in 1956 and his Master’s in orthopaedic surgery in Liverpool in 1958. On returning to South Africa, he was the head of the Department of Orthopaedics at Wits in 1959. In 1961 he joined WT Ross and Astor Rupert Kushlick (MBBCh 1954) in private practice and he married his theatre scrub sister from the Brenthurst Clinic – Louisa Tyler.

Dr Berzen was knowledgeable, practical and thoroughly enjoyed teaching. He was happiest taking students on ward rounds.  From 1973 Dr Michael Sara and Dr Berzen practiced together for 36 years. Although he withdrew from surgery in his early 70s, he continued to work on medico-legal cases until finally retiring at 80.

His last 11 years were spent in Cape Town, building a formidable vegetable garden with his wife and family. He passed away at the age of 91. His wife followed him within 32 hours of his passing after 57 years of marriage. They are survived by children Len, Anne and Robyn and their families.

He touched many lives, had adventures and was loved for his sense of humour and witty, well-timed comments.

Source: Anne Berzen

Revil John Mason (1929- 2020)

Professor Revil Mason (BCom 1950) was born on 10 February 1929. After matriculating from St John’s Prep in 1936 he studied at Wits and graduated with a BCom degree. He garnered several prizes, including the Alexander Aitken medal for the best graduate in Commerce, as well as the Chamber of Industries Medal and the Dean’s award.

After attending a lecture by Prof Raymond Dart he became fascinated by archaeology and proceeded to study Archaeology at the University of Cape Town and obtained a doctorate at the age of 28.

Professor Mason was appointed a professor by Wits as a successor to Professor Clarence van Riet Lowe. In 1976 the university created the Archaeological Research Unit and appointed him as Director, a post he held until his rather early retirement in 1989. Revil Mason (image: Heritage Portal)

Professor Mason excavated many significant sites, including, in 1996, a miraculously preserved, 12 000-year-old, Late Stone Age site, 150m from the N1 Allandale exit. During his career Professor Mason determined the historical significance of Melville Koppies and other areas of Johannesburg through his meticulous investigations of Stone Age and Iron Age sites. He identified prehistoric iron furnaces and Tswana villages from Lonehill to Klipriviersberg in Johannesburg. He mapped the North West and Gauteng provinces and became a champion of pre-colonial Early African Iron Age technology.

Besides being an archaeologist, Professor Mason was also a keen adventurer and an avid mountaineer.

Professor Mason, renowned for his ideas about the importance of the archaeological past was a humble, down-to-earth man, often irreverent, with a dry sense of humour, eschewing physical comforts.

He died on 23 August at the age of 91 and is survived by two daughters, Tamar and Petra, a grandson and a granddaughter.

Source: Petra Mason

George Bizos (1927-2020)

One of South Africa’s most esteemed human rights activists and Wits alumnus Advocate George Bizos (BA 1951, LLB 1954, LLD honoris causa 1999), the oldest child of Greek refugees, was born on 14 November 1927 and came to South Africa at the age of 13 via Egypt during World War II. Accompanied by his father, Antonios, he stepped onto the dock of Durban Harbour speaking no English and with little money. The pair found their way to Johannesburg, with Bizos’s father taking small jobs while he worked in a café, rather than attending school. Through a chance intervention from a teacher and Wits alumna Cecilia (Feinstein) Smulowitz he was able to catch up his studies and started reading for his first degree at Wits in 1948.

At Wits Bizos served three terms on the Student Representative Council. His courage to speak out against discrimination against black students attracted the wrath of the apartheid government, who would deny him citizenship – and a passport – for more than 30 years. But he also forged life-long friendships with the likes of Nelson Mandela (LLD honoris causa 1991), Arthur Chaskalson (BCom 1952, LLB 1954, LLD hororis causa 1990) and Duma Nokwe (LLB 1955).

“I don’t think words can sufficiently express our indebtedness to men and women like George Bizos. He was really devoted to the cause. When he appeared for us, he did not do so as a man who is appearing for strangers, he did so as his contribution to a great cause to which we were all committed.” – Nelson Mandela (LLD honoris causa 1991) former President of South Africa, Nobel laureate for Peace 1993

Bizos graduated in 1954 remaining a committed and involved alumnus. “I was radicalised at Wits, for lack of a better word,” he said.  Within weeks of being admitted to the bar as an advocate Bizos was involved in political trials. His track record is long and distinguished: as junior member of the defence team in the 1963 Rivonia Trial; the Braam Fischer Trial in 1965; the first Terrorism Trial in 1967; as part of the defence team in the Delmas Treason Trial which lasted from 1985 to 1989; leading the inquests into the deaths of Steve Biko and Neil Aggett; he was counsel for Winnie Mandela and defended Albertina Sisulu and Barbara Hogan; representing the Biko, Hani, Goniwe, Calata, Mkhonto, Mlauli, Slovo and Schoon families during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; representing the Human Rights Commission and families of slain mineworkers at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry in 2012.

“He didn’t have the citizenship to which he was entitled. It would have entitled him to remain here and it was never granted to him. He was extraordinarily vulnerable, yet despite that vulnerability he never hesitated to do what had to be done.” – Former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson (BCom 1952, LLB 1954, LLD honoris causa 1990)

Bizos was the founder member of the National Council for Human Rights in 1979 and he worked on several of South Africa’s most defining documents including the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Mandela appointed him to the Judicial Service Commission, on which he served for 15 years. Well into his 80s, Bizos continued to work in the Constitutional Litigation Unit of the Legal Resources Centre.

“Arguably one of the finest freedom fighters and lawyers has departed. Without fail George Bizos understood that the struggle for liberation needed to be supported.” – Former Wits Chancellor and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke

Despite the intensity of his workload, Bizos cultivated a rich circle of friendships and was a devoted family man. He married his wife Rita (known as Arethe) in 1954 and had three sons, Kimon (BSc 1979, MBBCh 1983), Damon (MBBCh 1983, MMed 1997) and Alexi (BSc Eng 1983) – and seven grandchildren. Bizos was a keen gardener, and lovingly tended the vegetable garden his mother, Anastasia, who lived to 98, planted. In the documentary film Here Be Dragons (2010) he said: “As you know, I don’t cross-examine from notes. As spontaneous as some of my questions might sound, they’ve actually been tried out on the plants – very early in the morning, sometimes in my mind, but sometimes they hear me speak about it.”

“The gales of war blew a 13-year-old Greek boy to our shores. He was to become a South African civil rights lawyer of international standing, a devastating cross-examiner of apartheid's torturers and killers. Long before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was visualized, George Bizos pursued the truth about what was being done to those who suffered under, and had the courage to oppose, a racist regime that turned brutal tyrant. When George Bizos won a case, it was not just a professional victory, it was an imperative of a man whose deep humanity directs his life.” – Nadine Gordimer (DLitt honoris causa 1984), Nobel laureate for Literature 1991.

The indebtedness he felt towards Smulowitz for her earlier contribution to his education led to his central role in establishing the SAHETI School more than 45 years ago as well as the George Bizos SAHETI Scholarship and Bursary fund. “I quote Aristotle ‘that education is a jewel at the time of prosperity, and a refuge during difficult times’. I think we should follow Aristotle,” he said.

Bizos died peacefully in his home on 9 September. “He lived so well, and with boundless energy, optimism and selflessness,” read the statement from his family.

Sources: Wits, M&G and Sunday Times archives, Odyssey to Freedom (2007)

Christian Peeters (1956 – 2020)

Christian Peeters (BSc 1978, BSc Hons 1979, PhD 1984) was an internationally recognised and celebrated myrmecologist, born in Belgium on 30 April 1956. He passed away suddenly in Paris on the 1 September 2020 at the age of 64.

Professor Peeters’s father, Paul Peeters, and mother, Paulette Peeters, immigrated to South Africa in 1970 with their children Christian, Annie and Françoise from Belgium. The family lived in Mountainview-Observatory, Johannesburg and Christian matriculated from Marist Brothers College. His father was an electrical engineer and was the director of sales for Schindler Elevators, a Swiss company.  In 1978 the company shut its offices in South Africa and repatriated Professor Peeter’s father. The Peeters family moved to Lucerne, Switzerland and he remained at Wits to complete his studies. 

Professor Peeters was determined to become an academic zoologist when he began his undergraduate studies at Wits in 1975. With Professor Robin Crewe as his supervisor he graduated with a PhD in Zoology, and remained in contact with Professor Crew for the remainder of his life on academic collaborations and as friends.

During his studies Professor Peeters was active in adventurous outdoor activities as a member of the Wits Mountain Club, Wilderness Leadership School, and he was one of the climbers who went out every September to ring Cape Vulture chicks in the Magaliesberg and other mountainous localities for the Vulture Study Group led by Peter Mundy and John Ledger (BSc 1965, BSc Hons 1966, PhD 1976).

After his PhD, Professor Peeters went to Australia to work as a postdoc at the University of New South Wales, with Ross Crozier. He later moved to Nagoya in Japan to work with Yoshiaki Ito and then to Wurzburg, Germany to work with Professor Berthold Karl Hölldobler. Settling in Paris, he was Research Professor at the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences in the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Sorbonne University, and Director of Research at CNRS, the French National Scientific Research Agency.

Professor Peeters’s impact in myrmecology started with the discoveries that he made as a PhD student, finding that primitive ponerine ants could lose the queen caste and have colonies headed by mated workers for which he and Bill Brown of Cornell University coined the term gamergates (married workers). This lead him to the explore of a variety of different forms of reproductive division of labour in ants, providing insights into the plasticity of social organisation in these social insects. His research interests included comparing societies across ant phylogeny, especially the evolutionary divergence of castes (queens, workers, soldiers) and strategies of colony foundation.

Recently he turned his attention to the ant genera Melissotarsus and Rhopalomastix, which chew tunnels in healthy wood to accommodate their scale insect symbionts and are the only ants in which adults spin silk used in nest construction.  The strength of ants in lifting loads led to an interest in the biomechanics of load transport in insects. The queenless ponerine ant, Streblognathus peetersi was named after Professor Peeters. See more here

He was actively involved in communicating his research to a wider audience, through his website and to the public through accessible presentations, museum exhibitions, radio shows, and a series of animations on ant life made in collaboration with his partner Naret Phansua.

Professor Peeters had an enthusiasm for life and a passion for myrmecology, doing research on ants in localities around the world, including in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Thailand. He was an inspiring influence on research collaborators, students and friends. He took every opportunity to be in nature and to go hiking, including in the Drakensberg, Andes and Swiss Alps.

When asked what he planned to do post retirement he replied: “Continue with my research of course!”. After his death, his students and colleagues paid tribute to his impact on their lives and research. Their admiration and respect for him was evident in comments on his insights, thoughtfulness and kindness.

Professor Peeters is survived by his sisters and their families in Australia, Annie and Bryan Downes; Françoise and John Schilter and sons Nathaniel and Nicolas; and by his partner Naret Phansua and extended family in Thailand.

Source: Nigel Gericke (BSc 1978, BSc Hons 1979, MBBCh 1984)

Noel Cuthbert Pope (1925-2020)

Noel Cuthbert Pope (BSc Eng 1949, PhD 1960) was born in Queenstown, he attended Queens College and matriculated in 1942. He completed a year of mechanical engineering at Wits before joining the South African Air Force, where he earned his wings on his 19th birthday.

After World War II ended he returned to Wits to complete his degree. During this period Dr Pope rowed for Wits as stroke (usually the most competitive rower in the crew) that competed at the Henley Royal Regatta in 1948. Dr Pope’s airforce exposure led him to pursue an interest in aerodynamics and he started an MSc on Supersonic Wind Tunnel design, which was later upgraded to a PhD. This led to a post at Farnborough, UK where the “faster- than-sound” aircraft had arrived and supersonic bangs were then a great novelty. After a year there, the call home and the persuasion of the company “Boart Products” who employed him for a year before leaving for the UK, brought him back to Africa to pursue his other compelling interest, metallurgy. He spent the next 36 years with Boart International.

On his retirement in 1985, he and his wife, fellow alumna Vivia (BMus 1950, BEd 1970, Med 1979) née Jones, moved into the Magaliesberg and lived on a small holding where they grew oranges, avocados, kiwis and pecan nuts for the co-op and all who visited. They joined the Mountain Club and walked through all the kloofs and valleys in the region. They also hiked nearly all the trails available in South Africa and went on “safari” in their Landrover with the “tent-on top” to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Dr Pope started a conservancy called the Buffelspoort Valley Conservancy.

Dr Pope and his wife have always been very proud Witsies. It is where they met and said Wits helped shape their minds and attitude to life.

He is survived by his wife, Vivia, son Trevor (BSc Eng 1980, MSc Eng 1983) and daughter Jane. Trevor’s children Alexander (BSc Eng 2009) and Sarah (BSc 2015) are also proud Wits graduates.

Source: Vivia Pope

Lynn Gillis (1924-2020)

Professor Lynn Gillis (MBBCh 1948, MMed 1956), died aged 96, was founding head in 1962 of the department of psychiatry and mental health at the University of Cape Town and played an integral role in changing the custodial care to a comprehensive service for the region.

He initiated groundbreaking community services and clinics, unusually led by nurses. Under his guidance a day hospital was established, and a psychiatric social club promoting continuity of care for patients in the community, with outreach provisions to destigmatise mental illness. At Valkenberg Hospital and Alexandra rehabilitation centre he courageously defied apartheid segregation by integrating staff across wards. 

Professor Gillis was born to emigrant parents in Kroonstad, South Africa a small town where his father, Julius, a dentist, grew competition prize roses as a hobby, and his mother, Annie (nee Lynn), a concert pianist, gave music lessons. This parochial background grounded Lynn’s fluent vernacular Afrikaans, a language he deemed second only to Yiddish in its rich array of metaphors and colourful curses. Perhaps too it underpinned his initiatives in community and social psychiatry. Similarly, a spell in the Johannesburg children’s fever hospital aged nine for scarlet fever primed later innovative ideas. 

When World War II broke out, he served in makeshift hospitals in northern Africa and Italy. Between 1945 and 1962 he worked at Tara Hospital, a pioneering mental health facility in Johannesburg, taking a break in the 1950s to hold positions at the Maudsley Hospital in London, and becoming a founding member of the Royal College of Psychiatry.

These formative experiences bore fruit when he was recruited in 1962 to fill the position of head of department of psychiatry and mental health at the University of Cape Town and first consultant at Groote Schuur Hospital. He remained professor of psychiatry at the university until his retirement in 1989, when he became professor emeritus.

Professor Gillis won many awards and held esteemed positions, among them president of the SA National Council for Mental Health and as director of the South African Medical Research Council’s Clinical Psychiatry Research Unit, which was key in initiating a series of studies, and mentoring a number of careers.

As inspirational teacher, mentor and author of numerous professional books and publications, his many eminent trainees acknowledge his singular trusting style of leadership, which encouraged personal initiative. 

Ever curious, Professor Gillis was drawn to psychoanalysis, and in retirement pursued Buddhism, studied sculpture and created austere carvings in marble and rare woods. An avid mountaineer, he remained remarkably healthy and agile, lucid and fiercely independent to the end of his full and fulfilled professional and artistic life. 

Shirley (nee Lurie), whom he married in 1950, died in 2015. He is survived by their daughter, Jenny, four grandchildren, Josh, Gabrielle, Jason and Danielle, and three great-grandchildren, Nomi, Yael and Lev.

Sources: Joan Raphael-Leff, The Guardian

Linda Givon (1936-2020)

Often referred to as the doyenne of South African art and founder of the Goodman Gallery, Linda Givon passed away on 5 October 2020 at the age of 84.

Givon was born in Johannesburg on 2 August 1936, to Morris Finger and Hetty, who had immigrated to South Africa from Eastern Europe. She read towards a BA in 1954, but travelled to England before its completion and obtained a diploma in acting and teaching from the London School of Dramatic Art. During the 1960s she trained at the Grosvenor Gallery in London under the tutelage of its founder Eric Estorick and returned to South Africa in 1966. Linda Givon

At the age of 30, Givon opened the Goodman Gallery. Located initially in Hyde Park, it soon gained a reputation for exhibiting work that was socially engaged and confronted issues unlike other galleries at the time who exhibited “pretty scenes of life in the townships”. Thirty years later the gallery moved to the heart of Rosebank in 1996. In 2018 Givon sold the space and its brand at an enormous price. She hosted solo exhibitions for artists such as Dumile Feni, Julian Motau, Cyprian Mpho Shilakoe, Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Leage, Johannes Segogela, Edoardo Villa, Cecil Skotnes, Louis Maqhubela, Winston Saoli and later artists such as David Goldblatt, Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Deborah Bell, David Koloane, Sam Nhlengethwa, Penny Siopis, Walter Oltmann, Willie Bester, Tracey Rose and many others. Through her work at the Goodman, she brought a unique and unapologetic vision.

Givon was known for her generosity, passionately promoting the work of artists in whom she believed, irrespective of fashion or financial risk. She established a reputation for conviction and integrity. Artist Robyn Sassen (BA FA 1993, MA 2005) writes: “Givon grew into one of South African art’s most powerful gatekeepers, alongside the ilk of the Johannesburg Art Foundation’s Bill Ainslie, and Wits University’s Alan Crump. She was the ‘turnstile’ through which an artist had to go, in order to be taken seriously. Like American socialite Peggy Guggenheim or Denise René, Parisian art’s grand dame during the 1950s, Givon made artists. She lived in the cut and thrust of an artworld which found its feet and relevance in a country dragged down by apartheid.”

Givon’s support for the democratic movement in the 1980s included such activities as organising a 1km Peace Ribbon for the Black Sash made by artists around the country, the exhibition and sale of 100 works by 100 artists in the aid of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee at the Market Theatre Gallery and a human rights exhibition in Durban. These collaborative events are examples of Givon’s ability to generate support from others through evidence of her own commitment and powers of persuasion. There are many instances throughout her career of charitable giving in which she facilitated donations, gifts, sponsorships and patronage from others through her determination to “grow the arts” or enable a project.

Givon’s actions demonstrated her belief in the fundamental worth of South African art and the need to showcase it to the world. She created opportunities for South African artists to travel worldwide and develop an international profile through art events such as Biennales, art fairs and through high profile publishing. For example, after apartheid, she was involved in important international events including On the Road, an exhibition of contemporary art from southern Africa for Africa 95 Festival of Arts, the seminal African art event in London in 1995. Givon participated on the Curatorial Committee for Africus, the first Johannesburg Biennale in 1995 and was strongly supportive of this seminal event. She was an essential authority to consult for the many international curators who streamed into South Africa at the time.

Givon was on the boards of community art centres such as the Johannesburg Art Foundation and the Ainslie Remembrance Trust, government bodies such as the National Arts Council and Heritage sites such as Constitution Hill. She saw the need to invest in the future, making provision for educational bursaries at many educational institutions. Over the years she supported the Funda Centre in Soweto, helped raise funds to rebuild the Artists Proof Studio, a teaching facility for young artists that burned down.

Givon’s generosity was legendary, for decades she donated art works readily to public institutions. She personally donated funds to the Children’s Hospital Trust and inspired close friends to donate over R5 million. She received the 2008 Inyathelo Philanthropy Merit award. At Wits she made donations to the Wits Art Museum (WAM), and to other Wits Art Galleries, many of which reflect important moments in South Africa art history. This was essential at a time when the university’s budget for the acquisition of contemporary art had been suspended. Givon made the first major donation to support the development of WAM. In 2016 Off the Wall: An 80th birthday celebration was mounted in her honour. She donated funds towards projects such as the library mural by Cyril Coetzee and the Rock Art Research Institute. In 2007 she was awarded a Gold Medal by the university, in recognition of her immense contribution to South African art.

She leaves her brother Michael, daughter Lee and son Robert and their families.

“Her death is an enormous loss, but her legacy is deeply embedded in the artists and institutions of the South African artworld,” read the statement from WAM at the time of her death.

Sources: Wits University archives; Robyn Sassen, New Frame

Jack Lampert (1936-2020)

Dr Jack Arthur Lampert (MBBCh 1958) matriculated from Parktown Boy’s High School in Johannesburg aged 16 years.

He completed his medical and surgical internship at the Johannesburg General Hospital and developed an interest in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He served as registrar at the Bridgman Memorial Hospital in Brixton, Johannesburg, which was the largest hospital designed explicitly for care of women in the Southern Hemisphere, but was forced to closed in 1965 and later became the Garden City Clinic. Dr Lampert worked there until 1964 and became a member of the Fellowship of the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of South Africa in 1965. Soon after he joined his long-time friend Dr Les Picker (MBBCh 1959) with whom he had been at high school and through medical school and in a private general practice in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.

In 1974 he opened his own Obstetrics and Gynaecological practice also in Johannesburg, where he practised for 10 years. During this time, he conducted clinics and instructed Wits medical students at the Johannesburg General Hospital (now Charlotte Maxeke Hospital).

He took up the position of Chief Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Vaal Med, moving to Vanderbijlpark in 1985. Vaal Med served Iscor and other factories in the area and was based on the lines of the health medical insurance operating in the US. After 17 very successful years in this position he retired in 2002 and moved to Fish Hoek, Cape Town.

It was not long into his retirement when the call of medicine was great and he took up a part time appointment at a local provincial hospital where he rendered his services until ill health, at the age of 75, forced him to finally retire. Dr Lampert loved medicine, and often said there was not a single day in his working life, that he did not want to go to work.

He had many interests among them target shooting and fishing. He had a great general knowledge. His remarkable acumen, as well as his quick wit and humour remained with him to his end.

A few years after Penelope Machanik, his wife of 52 years passed away, he returned to spend the last five years of his life in Johannesburg where he died on 22 July 2020.

He leaves his partner Gail Wilson (BSc Physio 1968) and three sons.

Source: Gail Wilson

Daniel Plaatjies (1963-2020)

Chairperson of the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC), Professor Daniel Plaatjies (PhD 2008) passed away “unexpectedly of natural causes” at the age of 57 on 10 October.

Prof Plaatjies was born on 21 May 1963 in Netreg, Bonteheuwel, and educated at Modderdam High School. He obtained an honour’s degree in social science from the University of Cape Town followed a master of philosophy degree from the University of the Western Cape. At Wits he earned a doctorate in governance, public policy and public finance. He edited three books which reflected his passion of building state capacity, governance, public accountability and public finance and governance. Prof Plaatjies was a senior manager of the public finance unit at the National Treasury and special adviser to the Human Sciences Research Council. Daniel Plaatjies

Academics, colleagues, politicians and diplomats paid tribute to Prof Plaatjies as a South African patriot who dedicated his life to social justice and non-racialism. FFC Deputy Chairperson and Adjunct Professor at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at Wits, Michael Sachs, said Plaatjies's acute and insightful contribution to financial and fiscal debates would be sorely missed in Parliament and public life.

"The commission itself has lost an able and energetic chairperson, who had lifted the FFC to a new level. He was a former Head of the School of Governance at Wits, a former executive director at the Human Sciences Research Council and a Visiting Professor at the University of Free State School of Business. He served the Republic of South Africa in numerous positions in government," Sachs said.

Chris Barron wrote in the Sunday Times that he “was a voice in the wilderness, warning about the collapse of municipalities and making bold, evidence-based recommendations about how they could be turned around. No public servant ever spoke truth to power more persistently than he did, or was more persistently ignored.”

He is survived by his wife Lydia and three children.

Sources: Cape Argus, The Sunday Times

Ian Potgieter (1934-2020)

Dr Ian Potgieter (MBBCh 1957) passed away on 2 October 2020, less than a month after his 86th birthday, after a long, illustrious career and productive life.

Dr Potgieter was born in Swellendam on 7 September 1934 and spent his childhood in the Eastern Cape where he enjoyed school holidays on his grandparents’ farm De Hoop in Alexandria. He matriculated from Queen’s College in 1951 where he excelled both academically and in sport (rugby being his favourite), finishing school with honours and school colours.

He qualified as a doctor in 1957 and his passion for rugby saw him play in the Wits University under-19 first rugby team, together with Wilf Rosenberg and Clive Ulyate who went on to become Springbok greats, as well as Issy Bacher, brother of Ali Bacher. Dr Potgieter completed his internship at the Johannesburg General Hospital in 1958 after which he was awarded a fellowship in London to study orthopaedic surgery. Ian Potgieter

Fate however intervened when he was struck with type 1 diabetes mellitus at the age of 24 and was advised against the rigours of a career in clinical medicine. He became insulin dependent and stoically managed the challenges of his medical condition with the help of his loving wife June (a qualified nurse he had met as a fourth-year medical student) throughout their 62 years of marriage.

Not one to be easily defeated, Dr Potgieter worked as a junior doctor at the South Rand Hospital before joining the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa in the late 1950s when he was assigned to the Ernest Oppenheimer Hospital (EOH) in Welkom as a medical officer. In 1962, he was awarded a Diploma of Industrial Health by the College of Physicians, London.  In 1964 as Industrial Medical Officer at the EOH, his responsibilities included care of patients in the spinal ward where he developed an interest in the rehabilitation of the physically disabled and facilitated the re-employment of paraplegics on the mines.

In 1968, Dr Potgieter was promoted to medical superintendent and transferred back to the EOH. He was instrumental in the development of the Ithuseng Rehabilitation Centre in Welkom, where miners with disabilities lived and worked, as well as a huge audiology centre to prevent, screen and test for deafness. He recognised the therapeutic role that sport played in the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, and in 1974 became a member of the International Society of Paraplegia. During 1975-1976 he served as the National Vice-President of the SA Sports Association for the Physically Disabled and in 1977 as the national president of the association, a voluntary position he held for many years.

On 30 April 1980 Dr Potgieter was presented by the Rotary Club in Welkom with a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his work. In his acceptance speech, he appealed to employers to consider employment applications from people with disabilities when suitable vacancies arose, considering each individual’s residual ability. He also appealed to civic and government authorities as well as the private sector to allow for simple structural modifications needed to public buildings and amenities to facilitate the re-integration of people with disabilities into the community.

Dr Potgieter was transferred to Anglo American’s head office in 1981 where he took up the position of Assistant Senior Medical Consultant, followed a few years later by the position of Senior Medical Consultant, when he became responsible for the health of some 90 000 mine workers and some of their relatives. He retired from Anglo American in 1994 at the age of 60, but continued his earlier involvement with the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases, evaluating the respiratory system of mineworkers for tuberculosis and/or industrial lung disease for compensation, until he was 80.

He lived out the rest of his life with his wife in retirement, enjoying time with the family and tending to his garden, fly fishing at Dullstroom and following the stock exchange. A devoted family man, he is survived by his wife June, four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Source: Susan Auret

Ampie Coetzee (1939-2020)

Respected Afrikaans academic, author and publisher Professor Abraham Jacobus (Ampie) Coetzee (BA Hons 1961, MA 1963, PhD 1967) died in a Paarl hospital at the age of 81 on 15 October.

Born on 26 June in 1939 in Germiston on Rose Deep mine, he started his academic career at Wits in 1960 and flourished in the department of Afrikaans and Nederlands. At the time, the department had strong ties with distinguished Afrikaans literary figures and Professor Coetzee obtained his PhD under the supervision of NP van Wyk Louw. (The department closed in the early 2000s).  He worked initially as a postgraduate assistant and then full-time lecturer until 1986, after a brief stint at the University of Durban Westville.Ampie Coetzee, Source:Litnet 

When Andre Brink’s Kennis van die aand was banned in 1974, Coetzee emerged as a central figure in mitigating apartheid’s censorship laws, establishing an independent publishing house, Taurus, with Ernst Lindenberg and John Miles in 1975. Between 1975 and 1990 Professor Coetzee was director of Taurus and published many other literary manuscripts that would have been banned under the apartheid government due to the then Publications Act. Since 1962, he published 12 books of his own and was also a founding member of the Breytenbach Centre in Wellington.

In 1987 he joined the University of the Western Cape as senior professor and continued teaching Afrikaans poetry until his retirement. His interest was mainly in the relationship between literature and society as well as literature and politics. He was considered an expert on the poetry of Breyten Breytenbach. Professor Coetzee was also part of the delegation of Afrikaans intellectuals who met with the then banned members of the ANC in Dakar, Senegal in 1987.

He is survived by his wife Anne-Ghrett, two sons and two grandchildren.

Sources: SABC news, Rapport

David Edwin Proctor (1932 – 2020)

Dr David Proctor (BSc Eng 1962, PhD 1977) died in Johannesburg on 26 September 2020 of complications following surgery. He was 88. He had spent his career at the National Institute for Telecommunications Research (NITR) of the CSIR, based, initially, on the Wits campus and then at the former Observatory site, both in Johannesburg. Born in Johannesburg and educated at Kearsney College, a private boarding school near Durban, the young Proctor moved around the country, depending on where his father, a Methodist minister, happened to be serving at the time.

After leaving school, Dr Proctor’s interest in radio and electronics led him to work as a technician at the NITR but it was clear that he had the academic ability to attend university. However, money was tight. Fortunately, the Faculty of Engineering at Wits had the foresight to set up a part-time process by which ex-servicemen, returning from the war, were able to complete their degrees over six years. And so, after spreading the first two years of the degree over four, while continuing to work at the NITR, he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1962 and immediately became a research officer at the NITR. David Proctor.

In 1967, at the instigation of the NITR Director Dr Frank Hewitt, who had detected Ultra High Frequency emissions from lightning during his own research in the early 1950s, Dr Proctor established a new research programme with the purpose of measuring and characterising such radio emissions that occur during lightning activity. In doing this, he was following in the footsteps of Basil Schonland (DSc honoris causa 1957) and David J Malan who had made important discoveries in the field of lightning research when based at the Bernard Price Institute of Geophysical Research at Wits many years before. Dr Proctor’s dedicated and almost single-handed research programme was to become his life’s work and over more than 30 years he established himself as one of the leading authorities in the field of lightning investigation using both radio and radar techniques.

The test site was situated north of Johannesburg at Nietgedacht. It consisted of two intersecting baselines, roughly 30 and 40 km long, at the ends of which were situated Very High Frequency (253 MHz) radio receivers with an additional one at their point of intersection. The network’s purpose was to receive the sferics (lightning-induced radio noise) produced by the lightning stroke processes and from them to determine the position and other features of the emitting sources in three dimensions. The fifth receiver provided redundancy to confirm the adequacy of the locating system. Dr Proctor pioneered this intermediate baseline, time-of-arrival (TOA) technique, which included dedicated microwave links to feed the data directly from each receiver to the “home” station at the intersection of the two baselines. Subsequently, for operational reasons, the observing frequency was moved up to Ultra High Frequency (355 MHz). The accuracy of the method depended on knowing the positions of the five radio receivers precisely and for this purpose Dr Proctor used a Tellurometer, the microwave distance-measuring instrument invented by Dr Trevor Wadley, also at the NITR, to fix those positions to within 10 cm.

A measure of the value of any research is its publication in the international scientific literature. Dr Proctor published his first paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research in 1971. Between 1971 and 1997 he published 12 papers, all involving detailed analysis of the results obtained from that time-of-arrival network as well as from the radar system that augmented it. The radar experiments followed on from the work of Hewitt when Dr Proctor, in the mid-1970s, pressed into service three synchronised radar transmitters, their respective receivers and their associated antennas that operated on wavelengths of 5.5, 50 and 111 cm. Their purpose was to locate the source of lightning and to measure how its properties changed according to the probing radar wavelengths. In addition, two other radars, operating at very much shorter wavelengths of 3 and 5.5 cm, were also used. On purely theoretical grounds the longer wavelength radars were expected to receive reflections from the lightning strokes which were invisible at the very much shorter wavelengths. This proved to be the case and it confirmed that intervening precipitation was shielding the lightning emissions at that shortest wavelength. Of particular interest were the estimates Dr Proctor was able to make of a parameter called the radar cross-section of the lightning stroke. He concluded that the radar echoes received were caused by many reflectors distributed throughout the volume of a cloud. This work, along with that carried out in New Mexico at about the same time, is regarded as the most thorough conducted to date.

In 1986 the CSIR experienced a convulsion – and an ensuing crisis – when it was decided that all its research had to have some definable commercial objective and, even more alarmingly, that it had to be self-funding. Pure science, whose applications were undefined – and in many justifiable cases was impossible to define in those terms – was essentially doomed. As a result, the NITR ceased to exist and Dr Proctor was summarily transferred to a unit carrying the uninformative title of EMATEK where he soon saw his research come to a precipitate end. However, he managed to persuade the Water Research Commission to support him and his miniscule team in a project with the objective of determining how lightning was related to precipitation while also considering lightning phenomena in their own right. In the subsequent internal CSIR report that was never published in the scientific literature because Dr Proctor himself was required to bear the costs of publication, he was able to show, from the 773 lightning flashes measured with his TOA network, that lightning exhibited peaks of activity at two altitudes, nominally 5.3 and 9.2 km above sea-level, but with their characteristics being markedly different. In addition, his radar network mapped 658 flashes and from those results it emerged that lightning begins in regions with the highest electrical charge which is where the smallest raindrops were to be found. It was intended than an aircraft be used to fly into those parts of a cloud where lightning flashes begin in order to discover what characteristics were peculiar to that relatively small region. Though Dr Proctor designed the necessary equipment to do this, the six flights that were undertaken all took place on days when there were no storms!  Since the aircraft was not dedicated to this project other more pressing needs always took priority when, as luck would have it, suitable meteorological conditions were just waiting to be exploited. In his closing comments to that 1993 report to the Water Research Commission, Dr Proctor paid particular tribute to his technician, Dick Uytenbogaardt, “for his wisdom and for many hours of diligent and intelligent labour”.

Whilst out in the scientific wilderness Dr Proctor received an invitation to contribute to a book called Handbook of Atmospheric Electrodynamics which was published in 1995. He wrote the chapter titled “Radio noise above 300 kHz due to natural causes”.

He was awarded the PhD degree from Wits in 1977 based on a thesis entitled “A radio study of lightning”. His last two papers were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in 1997. In one, he collaborated with four US-based authors in comparing time-of-arrival techniques with another powerful method that used an instrument known as an interferometer to determine the features of lightning. It transpired that the two methods mapped two distinctly different aspects of the complex lightning stroke process and so were complementary. Thus, as is so often the case in scientific research, new avenues immediately opened up for exploration. Both papers bore Dr Proctor’s home address of Honeydew, South Africa, because his lifelong affiliation with the CSIR had, by then, come to an end. He had retired in 1992 while his two colleagues, who had assisted him for so long, had been retrenched by the CSIR the year before.

Dr Proctor was an extremely nice man. As is so often the case with people who don’t set out to beat their own drum, his remarkable achievements in the fields of radio science and geophysics went unsung almost everywhere except in the closest confines of the NITR and among those scientists around the world whose fields of research overlapped with his.

He married Judy Stone in 1963 and they had four sons, all engineers.

Source: Brian Austin

Sulayman Karod Domingo (1953-2020)

Dr Sulayman Karod Domingo (BSc 1976,  MBBCh 1980), or as we all knew him “Dr Solly”, passed away in early July 2020 succumbing to cancer. He practiced as a General Practitioner in Bez Valley and then on Queens Street in Kensington. He was a very special family doctor, who would treat anyone and everyone who came through his door – often without any fee if it was obvious they could not afford to pay or he would just charge a small sum. Clearly, he had little interest in the business aspects of running a medical practice.

He was a humble, humane, caring person; a man with a strong ethical sense who lived the Hippocratic oath and the values of his religion (he was a Muslim) daily.  When I called on him I always felt proud that we were both products of Wits. He had also studied homeopathy and invariably combined a pharmaceutical prescription with a recommendation for a natural cure.  He would advise his patients how to treat themselves and not just to rely on a pharmacy nostrum.

Randall Bird, former member of the Wits School of Architecture and planning, pays the following tribute: “Solly Domingo was one of the kindest human beings who I have ever met. I agree with Roald Dahl, who said that for him kindness is his number one attribute in a human being. Through the information you gave me, I was aware of the tragedies he experienced. Despite his personal losses and resulting grief, I was never aware of it in his presence. He was a superb diagnostician and offered practical ways to improved health. Unlike many physicians I have encountered, he had a deep and practical understanding of pharmacology, including contraindications of combinations of drugs and efficacy of treatments.”

During the struggle years he suffered the misfortune of having his house on the West Rand bombed by right wingers, which was a serious financial and emotional blow to the family. He kept his sense of humour and described himself as representative of the United Nations, having African, Chinese and Portuguese blood. In the time between patients he would read and research online all the latest medical options so that he was constantly learning about his subject. He was an unsung hero of the suburb. 

He worked pro bono at the Johannesburg General Hospital and at Chris Hani Baragwanath and was absolutely committed to a life of service.  He was a family man, but sadly his wife passed away from cancer. They had three children but his youngest son was killed in a car accident on the south coast in KZN. When he talked about the pleasure of a grandson his eyes lit up.   

Dr Solly was much admired and we shall miss him hugely.

Source: Kathy Munro 

Tshiamo Daphne Matlapeng-Vilakazi (1964-2020) Tshiamo Daphne Vilakazi

Tshiamo Daphne Matlapeng-Vilakazi (LLB 1990) was born on 22 August 1964 to Keutlwile and Rebontshitswe Matlapeng in Molatedi. She attended school in Dinokaneng and later went to Fort Hare University where she obtained her social work degree. 

She earned her LLB Degree from Wits University, where she met and married Mthetho Vilakazi (BProc 1989).

Mathlapeng-Vilakazi’s drive, passion and commitment to her work led to an illustrious career.  She served as an independent non-executive director on the board of directors of Fortress for nearly five years and acted as chairperson of both the renumeration and social and ethics committees. She established valuable professional relationships and founded Vilakazi Commercial Attorneys, Notaries and Conveyancers.

She met her untimely passing in a freak accident at a time when she was highly diversified in her business portfolio including agriculture, which was close to her heart. Being at the farm is when she was most at peace.

She is survived by her four children, Mziwakhe, Gomolemo, Xolani and Thando; grandchild Cordell; siblings, and a large family which includes Coco, Chico, Bruce and Rocky – her lovely dogs.

Source: Matlapeng and Vilakazi families

Belinda Bozzoli (1945- 2020)

Professor Belinda Bozzoli (BA 1967, BA Hons 1970) distinguished academic and strategic leader passed away on 5 October 2020 after a long battle with cancer.Belinda Bozzoli

She was the daughter of former Wits Vice-chancellor Guerino Renz “Boz” Bozzoli (1968-1977) and remained a proud alumna throughout her life. She was appointed to the university’s top position for research in 2003 at the age of 63 after starting her career in the Faculty of Humanities, moving through the ranks as head of the Department of Sociology in the late 1990s before leading the entire School of Social Sciences from 2001-2003. She completed her MA and PhD at the University of Sussex. At the time of her appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at Wits, she told The Star newspaper: “I was a student at Wits and it’s like home. It’s a place which elicits loyalty and even when it behaves badly, it still manages to draw affection.”

Professor Bozzoli contributed to the prestige and reputation of Wits University through her various academic achievements and institutional roles. An excellent academic administrator, Professor Bozzoli was awarded an A-rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2006, making her the first sociologist in the country to obtain this rigorously peer-reviewed ranking which recognised her as a world leader in her field. She was committed from the beginning to create an enabling environment for academics and was instrumental in the establishment of six 21st century research institutes at Wits. She also served as the acting director of Wiser, the pre-eminent interdisciplinary research institute in the humanities and social sciences in South Africa.

She was an Associate Fellow at Yale University, a Research Fellow at Cambridge and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in France, a visiting Fellow to Oxford and served as a board member of the NRF. In her career, she singly authored three internationally published books and was editor or co-editor of a further four; and the author of numerous articles. In 1991 her book Women of Phokeng, which drew on the oral histories of 22 black women from a small town near Rustenburg – won her the Human Sciences Research Council’s Top Researcher Award.

In 2014 Professor Bozzoli stood for election to the National Assembly as 77th on the Democratic Alliance’s national list. At the election she won a seat in the National Assembly. She became the Shadow Minister of Education and Training. She was re-elected to Parliament in 2019 and made Shadow Minister for the newly created Higher Education, Science and Innovation portfolio. DA MP and chief whip Natasha Mazzone said that as an MP Bozzoli was “deeply committed” to her work in Parliament. “Her work was that of a true patriot. A fighter of principle and a true democrat. Belinda worked long into her illness, demonstrating her absolute commitment to South Africa and her caucus, Mazzone said. “She was kind, smart, knowledgeable, a voice of reason and love,” Mazzone said on Twitter.

Professor Bozzoli is survived by her husband, acclaimed historian Professor Charles van Onselen (BA Hons 1971) and their three children Jessica (BA DA 2002, PDM 2005, MA 2009) Gareth (BA Hons 1999, MA 2001) and Matthew (BA Hons 2007, MA 2010). When asked how she managed a family juggling life as a top researcher and administrator she said: “Isn’t it what all women do?”

Sources: Wits University and Wits Review archives, Wikipedia, Daily Maverick

Dawn Lindberg (1945-2020)

Dawn Lindberg

One of the most prominent theatre personalities and advocate for the arts, Dawn Lindberg (BA FA 1967) passed away from COVID-19 related illness on 7 December 2020 at the age of 75.

Lindberg was the founder and CEO of the Naledi Theatre Awards – one of most prestigious awards events in South Africa. Lindberg matriculated from Parktown Girl’s High School and completed her degree in 1962, meeting her husband and long-time partner in music and theatre, Desmond Lindberg (BA 1963), at Wits.

She said: “He was like a gentle Viking, tall, with blond hair falling over his eyes and a guitar slung over his back.” In 1965, Des and Dawn were married; they embarked on a tour of South Africa and then Rhodesia, visiting small towns and cities with their legendary show, Folk on Trek. It was promptly banned on the grounds of obscenity because of adjusted lyrics to the nursery rhyme, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and the spiritual, Dese Bones Gonna Rise Again. They went on appeal but lost the case, and all copies of the album were ordered to be destroyed. In 1973 they produced the groundbreaking musical Godspell, the first multiracial show to be staged publicly in South Africa.

When the couple brought the show to South Africa, it was promptly banned by the censors on the grounds of blasphemy. Des and Dawn took the case to the Supreme Court, and they won after the show was allowed one performance so that Judge Lammie Snyman and the censors’ legal team could view it. Godspell went on to triumphantly tour the country for 18 months. It spearheaded the opening of theatres to all races in 1977. The success of this production prompted the Lindbergs to move more into the theatrical arena and over the years they staged a succession of musicals and plays that included Pippin; The Black Mikado (the first West End musical to premiere in Soweto); The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (the title was banned); and The Vagina Monologues about the abuse of women. Des and Dawn participated in the Free People’s Concert at Wits and showed what a vibrant, non-racial free South Africa could be like. The couple’s most famous songs included The Seagull’s Name was Nelson in 1971, which topped the charts for 20 weeks.

Lindberg’s influence in the South African theatre industry was far-reaching and significant: her greatest achievement was the creation and nurturing of the internationally recognised Naledi Theatre Awards, which have honoured many artists and theatre makers, and awarded over 60 Lifetime Achievement Awards. She believed that “theatre and the arts are much more reflective of our current society and the demographics of the practitioners. New voices are telling our own stories and expressing our unique cultures through dance, music and the visual arts.”

In 2015 the couple were appointed “Living Legends” by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa. Lindberg is survived by her husband Des, children Adam, Josh, daughter-in-law Zuraida and grandchildren, Zaria and Shia.

Sources: and

In Memoriam 2020

Michael John Kimberley (1934 –2020)

Michael Kimberley (Wits 1954 – 1959 – graduated in Arts and Law) died on 03 January 2020 in Harare, Zimbabwe. He was an only child. He was President of the Students Representative Council whilst at Wits. After graduation he returned to the then Salisbury Rhodesia and began his legal career there in 1960 in the Attorney General’s Office becoming legal adviser to the City of Salisbury in 1963. In 1975 he became legal adviser for Rhodesia’s equivalent of Eskom becoming its Secretary in 1978. In 1993 he joined the law firm Honey & Blanckenberg later becoming a partner. He retired from that firm in September 2013. He married Rosemary LIGHTON (Wits, 1957-  ; DOB 11 MARCH 1937, DOD 22 APRIL 2012)  in 1961. His two sons survive him.

In the WITS REVIEW April 2019 Volume 41 in the photograph at the bottom of page 7 Michael was seemingly shown in the front right side of the photograph building the monument to Zorro Mascot at College House.

Samuel Ludwin (1944-2020)

Born in Johannesburg and schooled at King Edward VII School, Dr Samuel Ludwin (MBBCh 1967) qualified as a doctor at Wits and enjoyed a distinguished medical career.

In 1975, he and his family moved to Kingston, Ontario, where he became a Professor of Pathology at Queen’s University and an outstanding neuropathologist at Kingston General Hospital. His erudition, warmth and generous teaching style inspired generations of students and residents. Dr Ludwin devoted his professional life to studying degenerative diseases of the brain and nervous system, and made important research advances in multiple sclerosis.

Despite his international reputation, he was best known for his modesty and efforts to nurture the professional growth of others. His infectious energy extended well beyond his professional life; he was interested in everything and everyone and will be remembered for his loving, whimsical, and mischievous spirit. He collected antique maps of Africa, among other things, climbed mountains, enjoyed water-based activities and was passionate about music.

He died after a battle against the nervous system disease ALS on 21 January. His wife Vivien, sons Derek (Stacey) and Raymond (Karen) and grandchildren Andrew and Elizabeth survive him.

Source: Jack Metz; The Globe and Mail

Anthony Graham Phillips (1947–2020)

Anthony Graham Phillips (MBBCh 1970) practiced as a GP before qualifying as a radiologist in 1981. He emigrated to New Zealand, then permanently settled in Sydney, Australia with his wife, Vivien, and three children, Brad, Kenny and Robyn.

Radiation treatment for laryngeal cancer in 2001 led to significant vocal damage that forced Phillips into an early retirement. He sought to develop a new career in writing and his main focus was a book on theoretical physics, which he hoped would bridge the fields of science and theology. This effort, involving extensive research and the development of a theory of quantum physics, took 15 years to write. It was completed before he received a devastating diagnosis of untreatable hypopharyngeal cancer in July 2019. This was a recurrence of the disease that had first occurred in 2016 and been successfully operated on at the time. His family will now seek to have his book published.

Phillips was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Though gentle, he displayed courage in the face of the terrible health ordeals he faced. He believed the best in people because of his integrity.

Phillips passed away in January 2020, leaving an immense hole in the lives of his family. They take comfort in the knowledge that the values he passed on will continue in the lives he touched over the years.

Source: Brad Phillips

Eric Krystall (1928-2020)

Eric Krystall (BA 1957) passed away in his sleep in January, just a few weeks before his 92nd birthday. He had been living in Kenya since 1971.

Nine years ago he published his autobiography, Swimming Through Life, which details the fascinating episodes of his life. Krystall was born in South Africa, to which his Jewish father had migrated from Lithuania in 1899. He lived there for the first 28 years of his life. It was during the rise of apartheid, and as the country moved further towards segregation, his stance moved further left.

When he joined Wits University, the government decided to extend its segregation laws to the campus. He was active in the protests against segregation and became one of the first students denied a passport. He pioneered and chaired the marvellous Wits Arts Festivals in the 1950s. Despite this, he managed to leave for England, to study at the London School of Economics. There he heard trade unionist Tom Mboya speak about the desire for Kenya’s independence. Studying with him was Mwai Kibaki, who later became the third president of Kenya, and they organised a joint forum comparing the situation in South Africa to that in colonial Kenya.

During part of his time in London Krystall lived close to Baker Street. To help him pay for his education he took a job at John Bell and Croyden, the pharmacists to the British Royal family.

On graduating from LSE in 1960, he moved across the Atlantic with his wife Abigail Ruskin to the US. Here his post-graduate studies became deeply engaged in the civil rights movement. During his days in the US he prepared the arguments that successfully petitioned John F. Kennedy to allow African Americans into the Peace Corps, and he helped train Peace Corps volunteers before they set off for Africa.

His exposure to many emerging disciplines, from behavioural science to conflict resolution and population studies, provided the base for his contributions to the social development of Kenya when he moved there nearly half a century ago.

The opportunity arose when he contributed to a proposal for an East African population programme. He was selected to lead the Kenyan element, which became the first to be funded by the recently formed United Nations Fund for Population Activities. For 40 years he pioneered and developed innovative approaches to public health projects in Africa and around the world.

Source: Mike Eldon and Paul Krystall

Solly Gerald Stoch (1925-2020)

Solly Gerald Stoch (BSc Eng 1947), who was popularly known as Gerald, grew up in Carnarvon in the Karoo where he attended primary school. His father started off as a smous, who later became a successful sheep farmer and businessman owning a number of small businesses on the main street. His father was fondly remembered by the community of Carnarvon for his generosity during the great depression.

His home language was English, but as one would expect in a small Karoo town in the 1920s, his “street” language was Afrikaans. He was completely bilingual and enjoyed speaking Afrikaans whenever possible until the day he died at the age of 95.

He completed his school education at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth as a boarder.

When asked by his granddaughter if it was boring growing up in a small town, he replied “… not if you had an enquiring mind”. When home on school vacations from Grey, he would attach himself to practitioners of various trades – the local electrician, carpenter, auto electrician and plumber. Not surprisingly Gerald acquired a phenomenal practical knowledge of how things worked.

He completed his Degree in Civil Engineering at Wits in 1947. Gerald was part of a group of illustrious of engineers such as Alf Abramowitz, Tony Goldstein and Philip Slotzky.

In 1948 soon after starting his career he married Sadie.

In the early 1950s Gerald started his own practice, a basement room at home serving for his office. Sadie was his secretary and office manager. In the days before word processing his children remember Sadie retyping documents until Gerald, always a perfectionist, was happy that they were flawless. His enquiring mind was a defining trait – reading almost exclusively about how things worked – from rotary engines, to the movement of objects in the solar system. He had a large collection of slide rules and calculators used by engineers which he donated to the School of Civil Engineering at Wits. It is housed as a special collection at Wits, attributed to him. The collection was the subject of an article in SAICE’s Civil Engineering magazine of March 2008. It makes for fascinating reading especially for those of us old enough to have used slide rules.

Around 1962 Gerald sold his consulting practice to Ove Arup & Partners, joining them as a project manager. Sadie became the Office Manager at Ove Arup until her retirement when she returned to working with Gerald, until she died in 2003.

After a relatively short period Gerald left Arup to start Metricomp Programmes, to develop and market engineering software on a rental basis. In 1965, this was the first company in South Africa to do so.

The author met Gerald and became a renter of Metricomp software in 1978. The programs were all written and ran on Hewlett Packard “Desk top programmable calculators” in HP Basic language. Gerald started programming on Olivetti 16k models before switching to HP. By 1980 the HP “calculators” were a “massive” 128k machines. No one knows how many structures still proudly standing today were analysed and designed using his software-testament to the man.

Professionally, Gerald was still active well into his late eighties, marketing finite element software and consulting in that area. He used to present lectures to practising structural engineers usually challenging them to draw in free hand (definitely without using a laptop) how a structure would deflect under various load conditions, a subject which is basic to structural engineers. He would get great delight in catching them out!

Over 50 years ago, Gerald was president of the SA Association of Consulting Engineers (CESA today). He was a Fellow member of the SA Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) and

CESA. He was a committee member of the Board of the Joint Structural Division between SAICE and the Institution of Structural Engineers.

Speaking about his father, Len said: “Gerald was always a progressive thinker. Since I was born until the day he passed away, I never heard him speak in a derogatory manner about anyone of another race, language or religion. He was always community minded, spending his younger years as an active member of Round Table and the Greenside School Governing Body, and in his later years he was both a committee member and chairman of the Emmarentia Rate Payers Association. He could often be seen in the early mornings walking around the Emmarentia Dam with his wife Sadie. Both would be armed with black garbage bags, picking up litter left lying around by the many users of the dam’s facilities. For this he was awarded civic recognition by the Mayor of Johannesburg”.

Gerald is survived by his son Leonard, his daughter Hilary Janks and his partner of 16 years, Sally Thompson.

Source: Spencer Erling

Professor Albert (Bernard) Janse van Rensburg (1960-2020)

The Health Sciences Faculty mourns the untimely passing of Associate Professor Albert (Bernard) Janse van Rensburg on 23 April 2020. The School of Clinical Medicine penned the following tribute:

The School of Clinical Medicine and especially the Department of Psychiatry, as a collective are overcome by grief, at the loss of a colleague, a consummate professional and leader, a mentor, a dear friend, an academic and kind humble soul. Apart from this tremendous contribution to our department, and the school of clinical medicine, Associate Professor Albert (Bernard) Janse van Rensburg (DTM&H 1987, PhD 2010, PGDip 2018) was very involved in many endeavours related to Psychiatry and human rights.

He was the immediate past-president of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP), the secretary of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry and an honourary member of WPA. He was also the chair of the SAMA Academic Doctors Association. He was known as an experienced organiser and convener of CPD-accredited academic meetings, including chairing the local organising committee of the WPA International Congress in Cape Town, co-hosted by the SASOP in November 2016.

Professor Bernard Janse van Rensburg was an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Wits and head of the psychiatric unit at the Helen Joseph Hospital. He completed his medical training in 1983 and qualified as a psychiatrist in 1996, having come to us at Wits as a senior registrar from Stellenbosch. Even then, Professor Janse van Rensburg promised to be a psychiatrist of utmost commitment with a special way about him that went beyond academics. After leaving Wits for a brief stint in Mpumalanga, he returned to take up a position as a consultant within the department, Professor Janse van Rensburg had a myriad of interests in the academic arena. He obtained a PhD from Wits in 2010 on the role of spirituality in psychiatric practice and was actively involved in projects with this theme. He was passionate about health planning and epidemiology, general and consultation liaison psychiatry, research development and governance of professional associations. He also completed a post graduate diploma in Health Sciences Education in 2018. In March 2019, Professor Janse van Rensburg was appointed as Assistant Head of School of Clinical Medicine, head of Cluster B (Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, Neurosciences and Radiation Sciences). He made a great contribution to the management of the School, where his methodical approach to problem solving was invaluable. He was the Chair of the SOCM 2019 Research Day Committee, which was a huge success.

A stalwart of human rights activism and public mental health, Bernard was instrumental in championing the establishment of the National Mental Health Alliance of mental health organisations during his presidency to strengthen advocacy for mental illness. He was also vocal in his thoughts about the stance SASOP took against the Gauteng Marathon Project that led to the Life Esidimeni tragedy. It was, in fact, thanks to his meticulous record keeping that SASOP was able to demonstrate all our efforts in advising government against the project.

Professional achievements aside, those of us who worked closely with him will remember his beautiful soul, his indomitable spirit, his hardworking nature, his willingness to help, and as a gentle person who made a huge impact on our lives.

He is survived by his wife, Associate Professor Ariane Janse van Rensburg in the Department of Architecture at Wits, his son Briard and daughters LeOui and Renate. We salute this son of South African Psychiatry and recognise his immense personal sacrifices.

Source: Faculty of Health Sciences

Herbert Maurice John Prins (1927-2020)

Herbert Maurice John Prins (BArch 1952, PGDIpTP 1973, MArch 1990), distinguished architect, professional conservation and heritage architect and practitioner passed away on Wednesday, 15 April, 12 days short of his 93rd birthday. His was a long, rich and remarkably productive life. 

Prins was a role model in his work and ongoing commitment to the heritage of Johannesburg and other part of South Africa until a few months before his death. It was a joy to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2017.  His professional career   extended over 72 years – surely a record. I found his last email to a discussion group from 10th March 2020 (about the draft regulations for property practitioners) and January 2020, in which he took a stand on the proposal to move the oldest of Johannesburg’s war memorials, the Indian Memorial on the Observatory Ridge; he firmly said “ no”. 

Prins’s career fell into three parts – first as professional architect (1948 to 1970), then as an academic at Wits University (1970-1996) and finally as specialist conservation consultant and eminent heritage authority, with his own practice (1997 to 2020). Of course, there was a degree of overlap. 

This lengthy professional career had many highlights and enabled Prins to become a specialist of some distinction.  His work was recognised and valued. Wits University, his alma mater, awarded him the rare distinction of a Gold Medal in 2019, the South African Institute of Architecture honoured Prins with their Gold Medal of Distinction and in 2002 the Simon Van der Stel  Foundation (now Heritage South Africa) awarded Prins its Foundation Gold Medal. The Gauteng Institute for Architecture honoured Prins with its prestigious Life Membership Award and he was a lifetime member of the South African Institute of Architects. 

 Prins was born in Kimberley in 1927.  He was educated at St Andrew’s School in Bloemfontein as well as spending part of his Junior Certificate year at St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown. He studied architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand, earned his Bachelor of Architecture in 1952. In those days this was a five-year qualification and Prins started his practical training in 1948. He worked for a short stint for at Monty Bryer, followed by Harold Porter and Partner and then spent few years working for John Lowe at the Rand Water Board, where he took over a great deal of design work for the civil engineers.  

In 1952, he and his lifelong friend, Ivan Schwartz, left for England to enjoy the excitement of travel, youth, adventure and gain overseas work experience.  After a short spell with an old firm, Lanchester and Lodge, he landed a plum position with Frederick Gibberd who was pioneering an entirely new approach to town planning and creating a new post-war English town at Harlow in Essex.  Prins worked for the Harlow Development Corporation from 1952 to 1956 gaining experience in the design of industrial buildings, shops, houses and offices.  It was a broad education with the best of British post- war planners and architects.

In 1956 Prins returned to South Africa because of his father’s ill health. In 1956 he joined the architectural firm of Hanson and Tomkin (formerly Hanson, Tomkin and Finkelstein).  He became a partner in charge of the Johannesburg office in 1960, when Norman Hanson (a contemporary of Rex Martienssen) was appointed to the Chair of Architecture at Manchester University. The firm was now known as Hanson, Tomkin and Prins Architects. In an unpublished transcript of an interview with British journalist James Ball in 2010, he described the firm’s work as belonging to the New Empiricism. This was an architectural approach which learnt from the past in order to allow experience and knowledge to inform the aesthetics of the building.  Architecture had transitioned from Modern to New Empiricism.  A good example of a building done by Hanson and Tomkin in this manner was the New Medical Centre in Jeppe Street, Johannesburg.  Prins, through his work for Hanson and Tomkin, was deeply involved in the design of the Zionist Federation Building on the corner of De Villiers and Banket streets in Johannesburg.   

Increasingly, Prins took on the design work of the practice notably commissions for the University of the Witwatersrand, specifically the Mining and Geology Building (now the Geosciences building). I share Hannah Le Roux’s view of the beauty of this building and why it matters. Having both attended and delivered many a lecture in the Geology Lecture Theatre, I can vouch that it works to perfection with its raked-theatre-like floor, correct acoustics and high lecture desk.  I love the introduction of the art of Eduardo Villa on the panels of the facades, filled with symbolic meaning of place and purpose. During the Hanson and Tonkin years Prins was also responsible for the new Wits Medical Library and the second Medical School in Esselen Street in Hillbrow designed and erected between 1964 and the late 1960s. Prins also completed a masterplan for the Science Campus together with a Physics building for the then University of Natal’s Science Campus. 

His reputation as an architect of quality university buildings, drew Prins closer to Wits University.   Prins started an association of part-time studio work in the tradition that existed in Johannesburg. This allowed for a ready interchange of professionals teaching students, who in turn became draughtsmen and learnt the practicalities of architecture.  In 1970 Duncan Howie invited Prins to join the Department of Architecture at Wits on a full-time basis and he took up the position of senior lecturer. This launched Prins’s second career as a teacher and lecturer, while at the same time keeping his creativity alive with part-time architecture design work.  Wits management valued his talents; for example, he handled the project to convert the School Hall that had been part of the McAuley House Convent into a theatre. This small heritage gem that we now call The Nunnery, became part of the East Campus at Wits. Prins was also responsible for the new Annex building for the Department of Architecture in the late 1970s. This was a difficult design challenge as it meant linking the existing John Moffat building via a first floor corridor to the new building. This had to be erected ahead of the next academic year and quickly responded to the demand for more studio space.  Prins remained at Wits until 1996 when he retired.  

Over the years he taught and influenced many students who went on to become the next leaders of the profession. Many recall with great fondness of Prins’s presence and authority during the Headship of Pancho Guedes.  Herbert also served as Head of Department between 1976 and 1978. There are fine tributes from the children of the late Professor Pancho Guedes testifying to the pivotal role played by Prins in the facilitating the work and achievements of Guedes at Wits. Prins served as an external examiner at several other South African universities and fulfilled the usual functions of a University senior position – committee work, board work, teaching and examining students.

Prins became involved in the cause of heritage in the 1970s, when at the request of Selma Browde, he rallied the architecture students to protest the destruction of a JM Solomon House when the City of Johannesburg created the  Pieter Roos Park on the edge of Hillbrow.  It was his first lost battle but the Heritage cause had gained a fighter and stalwart and his interests evolved.  In the early 1980s, Prins became the chairperson of the Save the Markhams Building Committee, when there was a proposal to demolish Markhams and its clock tower on Eloff Street in Johannesburg.  Through public action and Prins’s leadership, Markham’s facades were saved and today Markhams boasts a blue plaque. That battle prepared Herbert for the even bigger campaign around the Colosseum Theatre and building on Commissioner Street in Johannesburg when redevelopment was planned. Prins was a pragmatist but also a conservationist and was prepared to work with the developers to contribute his designs pro bono for a redevelopment that would keep the old Colosseum.  The Prudential (the new owners) refused to even look at the sketches and the case for heritage became a unpleasant. Prins took on the Prudential in a legal fight and was defended by Edwin Cameron.  Justice Cameron became a lifelong friend and ultimately the case was settled out of court with Prins using the modest financial settlement to create and endow a trophy (made by the artist, Cecil Skotnes) and a heritage award.  The purpose of the new Colosseum Award was in Herbert’s words: “Not to be nostalgic about something lost, but rather to use the name symbolically to honour those who value heritage more than the Prudential did when it demolished the Colosseum”. It was a floating trophy and the recipients of the trophy have been: The Turbine Hall, the Newtown head office of NUMSA, Salisbury House in Belgravia and the Shandukani Clinic at the old Johannesburg Hospital.

In 1990 Prins himself earned the new Wits Master’s degree in Heritage Conservation.  He retired from Wits in 1997 at the age of sixty but it presented the opportunity for him to turn his passion for heritage into his profession. He opened his own consultancy practice, H M J Prins Architect, in the new specialisation of heritage. It was the right moment as the new government had a wider and more inclusive conception of heritage.  Prins went on to produce some splendid heritage Impact Assessments, which became valuable archival resource material.  Prins was the heritage consultant for a number of major projects – the restoration of the Reserve Bank in Pretoria, the restoration of the Pretoria Railway Station (designed by Herbert Baker) and gutted by fire in 2001, the  Walter Sisulu Square of  dedication in Kliptown (commemorating the  1955 Congress of the People), the Barbican building in Rissik Street,  Chancellor House  the  Newtown Precinct  among others.  Most prestigious was the redevelopment of the Johannesburg Newtown Power Station that became Turbine Square and the headquarters of Anglo-Gold Ashanti.  Another special project was the upgrading of Vilakazi Street in Soweto. There was the major redevelopment of the Constitutional Hill site in Johannesburg’s old Fort and prison.   He served as a valued member of the Building Committee of the Constitutional Court and played a key role in the design and construction of the new Constitutional Court.  Justice Cameron commented at the time that Prins’s views were “knowledgeable, authoritative and compelling and bring a truly vast array and depth of architectural design, aesthetic and cultural-historical wisdom and knowledge to the work of the Court”.

Over the years Prins was actively involved in the work of the South African Institute of Architects and its committees that benefit architects, including the South African Council for the Architectural  Profession (SACAP), the National Monuments  Council (NMC), and the Provincial Heritage Resources Agency (Gauteng). He held several service positions including that of president of the Transvaal Institute of Architects (TIA, in 1978 and 1979), president in chief of the Institute of South African Architects (ISAA, in 1982 and 1983).    Herbert served on the Gauteng Provincial Heritage resources Agency (PHRAG) between 2002 and 2006. He was a member of numerous heritage committees during his career.

In the area of public and civic engagement, Herbert was chairman of the Rosebank Action Group.  He was involved in the Blue plaque movement from 1986 and his initiative drove the Johannesburg 100 landmark blue plaque series for the Johannesburg centenary and erected under the auspices of the Simon van der Stel Foundation and the City of Johannesburg.  A few of those old blue plaques can still to be seen, for example at the Johannesburg Zoo, at the entrance to the West Campus of Wits University, on the Beardwood-designed building at the Holy Family College (the old Parktown Convent) and at St James’ School in Belgravia (the original St Mary’s School).     

It is also appropriate to record in this account of Prins’s work and influence the establishment of the Egoli Heritage Foundation in Johannesburg, which he established in the early 1980s.  This Foundation was formed as a result of a merger between three older Johannesburg heritage organisations, the Johannesburg branch of the Simon van der Stel Foundation. The Johannesburg Historical Foundation and the Sandton Historical Society.  It is not difficult to imagine the negotiating skills required to bring these bodies under one new voluntary organisation.  Prins was the leader able to bridge divides.  Egoli, a voluntary organisation, is involved in creating an awareness of heritage conservation and comprises a small group of interested and concerned people.  It coexists and runs in parallel with the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation (the successor body to the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust) established by Flo Bird.  Bird and Prins decided that it was desirable for heritage to be promoted through two independent platforms, JHF and Egoli and it would not be desirable to merge these bodies. Prins was never a member but was a trustee of the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust and remained a trustee of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation from its foundation until 2019  and  served these bodies with  disinterest,  wisdom and distinction.  Prins would always make the firm authoritative comment on critical items of business.

Prins joined Neil Fraser in the effort to revive and revitalise the inner city of Johannesburg and served on the Johannesburg Heritage Trust with Henry Paine from its inception in circa 2000 and its closure in circa 2015. He was the Vice Chairman of this body.

Prins was a lifetime member of the Johannesburg Country Club and it was a delight to be his guest at the annual Life Members Christmas lunch in December 2019.  Tony Beart who was the general manager of the Country Club for 13 years recalls that Prins was the resident consultant in all things heritage at the Country Club, “we did not move without his input”.  He ensured that the Auckland Park Country Club  retained its billiard room, understood the value of the old brick water tower and the new  patio development was guided in its design by  Prins to ensure a  happy blend of heritage,  revitalisation and good aesthetic design.  The development of the conservation and nature reserve surrounding the Woodmead Country Club (of the Johannesburg Country Club) also shows his influence.  

Prins was a connoisseur of fine furniture, art, silverware and ceramics. His beautiful home in the Art Deco apartment block, Mentone Court, was filled with treasures. He was a collector of fine objects throughout his life, this was informed by his knowledgeable taste. Len Raymond comments that   Herbert “was an expert on early Cape Furniture and assembled  an impressive collection including some of the best  and oldest pieces of Afrikaner as well as the best collection of early Martavaans many of which are included in  Barbara Woodward’s book on  pottery and ceramics  in South Africa from the east. Herbert’s best chairs are prime examples of the cream of their style in South Africa.”

The need to move into an hotel owing to old age, forced the sale of most of his fine collection 2014.   At that point  Prins donated  the greater part of  his impressive  archive to the University of Pretoria, School of  Architecture, a small Wits collection went to  various Wits repositories  and the Johannesburg Heritage Impact Assessment Reports were donated to the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation’s Resource Centre.  

Prins passed away after a short illness at the Morningside Clinic.  He was a confirmed bachelor and never married.  He is mourned by his many friends in the heritage community in Johannesburg and nationally.  Such was that combination of professional stature and his capacity for meaningful friendships that his close friends became his family. His personal assistant Liz Kirsten was his devoted helpmate for many years.  He was much loved and respected by all who worked with him.

Source: Katherine Munro, friend, colleague and admirer.

Elizabeth Scholtz (1921-2020)

In 1972, when Elizabeth Scholtz (BSc 1942) became director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the splendid 52-acre urban garden founded in 1910, she was not only the first female director of a major botanic garden in the United States; she was also one of the few women in charge of a large New York City cultural institution. This made for some awkward collisions.

At the time, members of the Cultural Institutions Group, which included the directors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum and the garden, met at the Century Club on West 43rd Street. To attend the meetings, Scholtz entered through the service door, so as not to upset the stodgy membership of what at the time was an all-male club. 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden / Image: Radhika Chalasani

With typical good humour, said Scot Medbury, who led the garden until January, she did so throughout her tenure, with one notable exception.

One day her arrival coincided with that of Thomas Hoving, director of the Met, and Thomas Nicholson, director of the Museum of Natural History, who linked arms with Scholtz and frog-marched her through the club’s front door, causing many male jaws to drop. It did not, however, change policy at the club, which did not admit women until 1988.

Scholtz died on 22 April at her home in Brooklyn Heights, said Diane Steinberg, chair of the garden’s board of trustees. She was 98. 

“Betty knew how to make an entrance and an exit,” Steinberg said, pointing out that her death came on Earth Day.

With a distinctive South African accent that had been sharpened by Anglican boarding school, and with a flair for brightly coloured clothes, Scholtz was a beguiling and beloved figure in the horticulture world.

“She was a rock star,” said Medbury, who is now executive director of the Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Sonoma Valley, California, recalling how she inspired generations of horticulturists, including himself. She was a skillful diplomat, he said — able to disarm, for example, the toughest union negotiators by inviting leaders to tea. “She made everybody happy.”

Horticulture, like the Century Club, was famously slow to accept women, said Pat Raven, former executive director at Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble, Texas. “That’s why Betty was so special,” she added.

“She led without threatening. There were no female directors of big botanic gardens in her time. Now, about half are run by women.”

Trained as a scientist in her native South Africa, Scholtz came to the United States on a yearlong medical fellowship in hematology at Beth Israel Hospital (now Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) in Boston. There she met George Avery, then the Brooklyn garden’s director, who in 1960 offered her a job running the adult education programme. She took it.

In 1966, she began leading garden tours around the world; by the time she stopped, in 2008, she had led 100 tours through 46 countries.

She became the organisation’s director in 1972, guiding it through the city’s near bankruptcy in 1975. Half of the garden’s operating costs came from city funding, which was wiped out during that fiscal crisis, Medbury said.

Not only did Scholtz refill the garden’s coffers, she also managed its three satellite properties: the Kitchawan Research Station and Teatown Lake Reservation, in Ossining, New York, and the Clark Botanic Garden on Long Island.

In 1980, she became director emeritus. Until last fall, she was a daily presence at the garden.

Elizabeth Scholtz was born on 29 April 1921 in Pretoria. Her mother, Vera Vogel Roux, was a nurse. Her father, Tielman Johannes Roos Scholtz, was a general surgeon who died at 45 from septicemia after accidentally puncturing his thumb with a nail brush in the operating theatre, said Martin Scholtz, a nephew of Scholtz’s.

Betty was 11 at the time; her brothers, Boet and Tielman, were four and two. It was before the widespread use of penicillin, as Martin wrote in an email, “and their father came home one day and said, ‘Vera, I have only a few days to live.’ Betty and her brothers were raised by their single mother for many years until she remarried.”

Scholtz graduated from the University of Witwatersrand with degrees in zoology and botany. After earning a certificate in medical technology, she oversaw the laboratory at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

But she had always loved plants, her nephew said, having grown up spending time with her family in a bush camp near the Kruger National Park and making watercolours of bushveld flowers.

Among the many awards Scholtz received during her long career were the Liberty Hyde Bailey Medal from the American Horticultural Society, considered the field’s highest award; the gold Veitch Memorial Medal of the Royal Horticultural Society; and the Honorary Life Member Award from the American Public Gardens Association.

Medbury, the garden’s former director, recalled the Public Gardens awards luncheon in 2008:

“She was 87 at the time, and she bounded to the stage and addressed all the director-types: ‘Here’s how it works. If somebody comes to me with a complaint, I say, his office is down the hall. If somebody comes with a compliment, I’ll say, How lovely, I’ll be sure to pass it on.’ Her point was that directors emeritus should not meddle in administrative matters once retired. She was a model for all of us.”

Last month, an open-air walled garden, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and financed with a gift of $5 million from an anonymous donor who asked that an area be named for Scholtz, was scheduled to open to the public. (The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is closed because of the coronavirus.)

When Scholtz retired in 1980, the garden embarked on what it called Operation Mum — a secret project to develop a rose in Scholtz’s honour, and in her favourite colour, yellow. It took eight years to develop the flower, a cross pollination of the hybrid tea roses Granada, Oregold and Sunblest and the grandiflora Arizona.

Source: Penelope Green, The New York Times

William John Richard Alexander (1924-2020)

World War II broke out in September 1939 when William Alexander (BSc Eng 1950) was in his second year at Durban High School.  At the end of 1941 he “scraped through” the final exams and was said to have remarked that “academic prowess was never one of my priorities”.

Alexander asked the school principal for advice on a future career. Despite an interest in chemistry and science, the principal suggested a direction in civil engineering, a career which had never occurred to him.

At the beginning of 1942 he enrolled at Wits at a time when the University’s rules were much more formal. Students wore jackets and ties to lectures and those in residence had to wear suits and gowns for dinner.

According to his family, his heart was not in his studies. A month before his 18th birthday, Alexander wheedled his way into the army as a member of the South African Engineer Corps (SAEC). His reasons for joining up had nothing to do with patriotism, but rather with seeking out adventure and escaping university. When volunteers were called to go “up north”, he was first in the queue. Arriving in Egypt he joined the 11th Field Company of the SAEC, receiving training in the construction of Bailey bridges. He served in this company in Italy for the rest of the war. (BSc Eng 1950)

The second time round, Alexander took his studies more seriously. He graduated from Wits at the end of 1949, facing the prospect of a lean job market. After attending a talk by CW Sandrock, from the Department of Irrigation (which later became the Department of Water Affairs, and is now the Department of Water and Sanitation), describing various dam-construction projects he decided to join the department and never looked back.

During the period 1950 to 1969, Alexander and his late wife, Gladys lived like nomads, moving from one construction site to another. He was involved with several dam constructions, including Rooikrans, Leeuw Gamka, Erfenis and Floriskraal Dams. His unit moved to the Orange River for the construction of the Orange-Fish Tunnel - at that stage the longest continuous water supply tunnel in the world (now moved down the list to fourth longest).

In 1969 he was transferred to the Department's planning division in Pretoria, where he undertook the numerous studies on water supply schemes and was later promoted to become the Chief of the Division of Hydrology, where he broadened his knowledge in hydrology by attending courses at Colorado State University in the US and the University of Reading in the UK.

In the years that followed, he became increasingly involved in the hydrological complexities of short data sets and water resource development. In this capacity he served on the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's National Programme for Environmental Sciences and chaired its Inland Water Ecosystems Committee, which approved the funding of multidisciplinary research in this field. He was also a member of the Natal Parks Board's St Lucia Scientific Advisory Committee and the Southern African Commission for the Conservation and Utilisation of the Soil, the only international committee which then allowed South Africa membership. 

Driven by a desire to share his knowledge, particularly in the field of hydrological phenomena and multidisciplinary studies, he authored a host of publications between 1970 and 1984. The paper that emanated from the work done by him and colleague Paul Roberts as members of the committee advising the Cabinet on the reconstruction of Laingsburg after the ravaging flood of 1981, received the South African Institution of Civil Engineers prize for the paper of the year.

In 1984 he retired and was immediately appointed by the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Pretoria.  He was appointment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as a member of the UN's Scientific and Technical Committee on Natural Disasters, attending meetings in Yokohama, Moscow, Paris, Geneva, Washington and Nairobi, and presented papers at conferences all over the world. His specialty research field involved Applied Hydrology and Flood Calculations, in which he made large contributions.

He retired from the University of Pretoria in 2000, but was made Professor Emeritus in the Department of Civil Engineering, and remained active in the field of advanced hydrology by writing numerous papers. According to fellow researchers at the University of Pretoria, he will be remembered as “a free spirit, formidable applied statistician, self-taught programmer and an individualist who was always willing to share his views and had space to accept when he erred”.

Alexander died on 9 June, at the age of 95, after a brief illness. He will be lovingly remembered by his daughter Evelyn Stoddard, grandchildren, colleagues and friends.

Source: Evelyn Stoddard, Marco van Dijk and Fanie van Vuuren

Dr Michael Plit (1937-2020)

Dr Michael Plit (MBBCh 1960) was born in Vereeniging in 1937 to Lithuanian immigrants. He matriculated from General Smuts High School, as its first head boy and started medical school at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1954. He completed his internship in 1960 and qualified as a physician in 1965.

In 1967 he married his wife Yvonne. Shortly after Dr Plit was awarded a scholarship in February 1967, the couple moved to Jerusalem where he worked at the Hadassah Hospital. In June 1967 he was appointed leader of the triage station just as the Six-Day Arab, Israeli war broke out.

In November 1967 he and his wife embarked on a tour of Europe, returning to South Africa in 1968, where he opened the first private pulmonology practice in Johannesburg. He was a founding member of the SA Pulmonology Society (SAPS), now the SA Thoracic Society (SATS) in July 1968. His only daughter, Lisa, was born in 1970.

In 1980 he entered the public sector. He spent five years working at now Helen Joseph Hospital, joining the modern medical, respiratory and academic teaching unit, established by Dr Andre van As (MBBCh 1960, PhD 1976). In 1985 he returned to private practice.

In 1990 he was appointed personal physician to Nelson Mandela. In discussions with investigative journalist Terry Bell in 2016, his daughter, an environmental law specialist Dr Lisa Plit (BA 1991, LLB 1994), said her father recalled that Nthato Motlana (MBBCh 1954, honoris causa LLD 1999) probably advised Mandela on which doctors to include on his initial medical team.  Apart from Dr Plit, these were John Barlow (MBBCh 1951, Master of Surgery 1968, honoris causa Med 1991) Michael Kew (MBBCh 1961, DMed 1968, PhD 1974, DSc Med 1982) and Louis Geselter, with Peter Friedland (MBBCh 1988) called in later. 

Dr Plit retired officially in 2011, and was awarded the Chris Barnard certificate in recognition of “outstanding service to the medical profession and the people of South Africa”. Despite being retired, he was often summoned to Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, to attend to Mandela. 

Zelda la Grange, who was Mandela’s personal assistant for many years said she met Professor Plit in 1994. “Dr Plit would always ready himself when Madiba called. He was never too busy to see him, sometimes at the drop of a hat and to him, Madiba was his utmost responsibility and almost his purpose in life. He was a person on whom Madiba depended greatly, trusted his judgement and always listened to. He was much more than a doctor but also a close friend to Madiba, Graca Machel and myself. There goes a kind, soft-spoken professional and dedicated man who served Madiba and all his patients with exception.”

Pic:Nelson Mandela Foundation
Zelda la Grange with Dr Michael Plit and his wife Yvonne.

He served as National Asthma Education Programme president from 1999 to 2000, as president of SAPS from 1992 to 1993, and was awarded honorary fellowship by SAPS.

On 7 May 2020, Dr Plit passed away in the comfort of his home at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife, Yvonne, née Huddle (BSc Physio 1959, MBBCh 1965) who was also a Wits Rag princessdaughter Lisa, two grandsons (Adam and Ethan) and his younger brother Clive.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation issued the following statement at the time: "We have been saddened to hear of the loss of yet another person who played an important role in Nelson Mandela's life – Dr Michael Plit, who was Madiba's personal physician for well over two decades. We send heartfelt condolences to his family and friends." 

The foundation said although Mandela was treated by several medical practitioners, especially in his last 10 years, it was Dr Plit who he called on the most.

"Dr Plit became more of a friend than a hired professional, more of a trusted counsellor than a physician. He was always there for Madiba, through thick and thin.”

Dr Plit was a pioneer in the field of pulmonology in SA – he was instrumental in establishing the subspecialty and in developing the careers of many past and current pulmonologists. His immense contributions and humility will not be forgotten.

Sources: African Journal of Thoracic and Critical Care Medicine, VaalWeekblad, Nelson Mandela Foundation

Colin Allen Carter (1925-2020)

Colin Allen Carter (BSc Eng 1946, MSc Eng, 1948) passed away peacefully at his home in Knysna 1 April 2020. 

Colin retired as Director of Ninham Shand in 1991, but continued to work for a number of years after that.

He served on the Committee of the South African Institute for Civil Engineers Water Engineering Division for many years, and as chairman in 1980. He was also a respected and active Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) until his age made it difficult for him to attend functions. But even at the age of 95, he continued to be well informed about world events and maintained his interest in water projects, which had been his main field of engineering.

He took up tennis when he was 12 and only stopped playing in 2008. He remarkably also found the time to play the piano throughout his life.

Colin married Chris in Cape Town in August 1956. She was a keen mountain hiker, accomplished sculptor, and a superb homemaker and mother. They both enjoyed caravanning around Knysna, but mostly at Hermanus Yacht Club where he and the family enjoyed sailing. Chris passed away suddenly while hiking near Knysna in 2013.

Colin is succeeded by his four children – Juliet, Nicholas, Alison and Daniel.

He was a respected engineer and mentor as these quotes from colleagues attest: “As a member of the first student stream-gauging expedition to Lesotho, working for Colin, I learned to like and respect him. He and I did a few long horse rides, during one of which he displayed courage and fortitude in a major thunderstorm.”;  “Colin definitely had an uncanny knack for getting to the nub of projects at an early stage and my person experience from early on showed me he was able to greatly improve clients’ understanding of complex technical and other issues during reporting, and later, stages of projects.”; “He recruited me in London in 1971, it changed my life and was the start of a most-rewarding career, during which Colin was a respected mentor and friend.”

One of his children wrote: “In spite of how important his engineering career was to him and all he achieved in his work, it was remarkable that he always there to spend evenings, weekends, and holidays with the family. We all consider ourselves to be very fortunate to have had such an intelligent, kind and generous father.”

Colin was born in Cape Town and attended Tamboerskloof Junior School before moving to South African College School (SACS) in Standard 3, becoming a boarder from Standard 8, when he was just 13 years old. He matriculated from the SACS at the age of 15 and then went on to study Civil Engineering at the University of the Witwatersand.

After graduating in 1945, he joined the South African Railways and Harbours (as it was known then) where his father worked, and served in Port Elizabeth on “boring construction work” as well as on the Cape Town harbour works, which he found more to his liking.

While still in Port Elizabeth, he was fortunate to hear Ninham Shand present his address as President of SAICE (1946). Four years later, in Cape Town, he saw the firm’s advertisement for an engineer. He applied immediately, was called for an interview and was astonished when Ninham offered the 25-year-old the job on the spot. In 1950 he joined the firm, which at the time had a total staff complement of 20, and so began a career in Shand’s that went on to his retirement 41 years later.

His first recorded project was to improve the water supply for Bredasdorp, which he enjoyed doing, and which, proved to be the beginning of his “water” journey. Many others followed, largely municipal water supplies and agricultural irrigation projects in the Cape Province and into the Orange Free State.

In 1955 things changed when Colin was called into Ninham’s office. The boss was clearly elated, having just returned from a trip on horseback up the pony trail known as the Moteng Pass. His plans for a dam and tunnel to transfer water from Lesotho to South Africa were taking shape, and he had picked Colin to be his chief lieutenant.

At that time the hydrology had been based on limited flow records from small weirs installed by the then Basuto Hydrology Department in the headwaters if the Malimabatso River and other tributaries of the Senqu River. Accurate calibration of these weirs was obviously necessary. Colin researched and purchased current meters which were difficult to use for gauging floods in the swiftly flowing rocky mountain streams, and therefore he perfected a way of gauging the flows by the “salt dilution method”, which was published as a paper by SAICE. Colin personally led the calibration of the flow gauges confirmed the high runoffs in the upper Malimabatso River catchment and showed, as was set out in the Ninham Shand report of the Government of Basutholand in 1956, that, by tunneling westward through the Maluti and Thaba Putso mountains, a substantial hydro-electric power station could be developed with water transferred to the Orange Free State.

In 1963 the Carter family moved to Johannesburg after Colin had been chosen by Ninham to represent the firm as the Deputy Chief Engineer and Alternate Director on the Board of the French/South African International Orange River Consulting Consortium (IORCC), which had been appointed for the design of the Hendrik Verwoed (Gariep) and van Der Kloof dams. His quiet, firm manner, keen insight and technical knowledge were put to the test in developing teamwork and an effective working relationship in the multinational design team.

In October 1965, while living in Johannesburg, and some 10 years after his key role in starting the hydrological studies in Lesotho, he wrote a paper titled Basutholand as a Source of Water for the Vaal Basin which was published by SAICE which was published by SACIE in October 1965 and presented in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein. This confirmed that the transfer of water would have benefits to both countries, and formed part of his MSc thesis which was supervised by Prof Des Midgley at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Colin returned to Cape Town in 1969, becoming an Associate, then Partner and later a Director of Ninham Shand Inc. He was involved in numerous water resource, water supply and pumped storage projects, as well as other urban infrastructure schemes, including the tricky canalization of the Elsieskraal River which flowed through a highly urbanised area.

In 1983 the South African Department of Water Affairs appointed the Olivier Shand Consortium, and Lesotho appointed Lahmeyer McDonald Consortium to carry out a Joint Feasibilty of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Colin was the Shand’s elder statesman for the project and an influential member of the team, respected by all parties.

Working with hydropower specialist, Colin initiated the investigation of an option which linked the transfer tunnel from Katse directly to the hydropower station, without an intervening head pond at Sentelina. This would provide additional head, directly from Katse to the hydro power plan at Muela and result in additional energy at the power station. Although the concept of the headrace tunnel being 48km long was, to say the least, unconventional, it proved technically sound.

Photo by Andrew Tanner 2006.
Colin Carter was central to the planning of the Katse Dam.

In October 1986, the Treaty between Lesotho and South Africa was signed and the project proceeded to the design and construction phases. Construction commenced in 1991 the year Colin retired, and the first water flowed into the Vaal Dam in 1998.

Apart from these milestone projects, Colin played an important role in numerous other projects and was always available to support various project teams.

When Colin retired from Ninham Shand in 1991, the MD Peter Thomson said at Colin’s retirement party:
“If you ask Colin Carter a question, more likely than not you’ll get a surprising answer.” This is perhaps best captures Colin’s propensity for lateral thinking.

In 2011, Colin and his wife left Cape Town, moving to their Leisure Isle house in Knysna, fulfilling a long-held ambition. Colin continued living there after his wife’s sudden death in 2013. In his own memoir Colin wrote, under the heading “Lucky me”:

“I have enjoyed an exceptionally fortunate life. First my health has always been excellent, and I have seldom suffered from infectious diseases, no doubt largely due to a good diet, first by my Mom and then by Chris. Second, writing this has drawn my attention to the great support offered unfailingly by my Dad. Then there was the matter of choosing, without much knowledge, a career that could offer the sort of work I enjoyed doing, and finding employment which made this a reality, working for the very special Ninham Shand.

“So here I am now… long past the standard three score and ten years, still able to get around, living extremely comfortably and enjoying the support and frequent company of my four devoted children, and other relatives and friends.”

Colin, you counted yourself lucky, but none were so lucky as your colleagues and friends who had the privilege of knowing you.

Source: Andrew Tanner: SAICE: Civil Engineering Magazine

Ian Campbell McRae (1929-2020)

The much respected former CEO of Eskom, Ian Campbell McRae (BSc Eng 1954, DSc Eng honoris causa 1989), died in the early hours of 12 July 2020. He was 90 years old.

Dr McRae was aware that his place of birth would be central to the direction of his career. In his biography The Test of Leadership – 50 years in the electricity supply industry of South Africa (2006) he wrote: “I was born into a Victoria Falls Power Company (VFP) residential property at Simmerpan in Germiston on 24 September 1929.  VFP had been established as a private company, primarily to transmit power from the Victoria Falls down to the Reef.  The technology was not available at that time and, due to the long distances, was not viable.  The VFP then proceeded to build coal-fired power stations along the gold reef – the Witwatersrand.  Some of the houses in the area where I was born still stand today, even though the power station has long been replaced by Eskom’s National Control Centre and other departments.” 

After school, Dr McRae enrolled for an engineering degree at Wits. “For some unknown reason or maybe the influence of school friends, I applied for a BSc degree in civil engineering at the Witwatersrand University. Shortly after I enrolled, I changed to mechanical engineering, a decision I knew was right, and for which I am forever grateful, as it opened a door for the career that followed.” But his parents were unable to keep him there.

 “After my first year in 1946, which I passed, I realised my parents could not afford to keep me there without considerable hardship.  I worried over what would happen if I failed.  This led to a decision to go and serve an apprenticeship as a fitter with the VFP in their maintenance department at Rosherville.”

Having some knowledge of his father’s employers, Dr McRae applied to the VFP for an apprenticeship. He completed his fifth year and then applied for a bursary from Iscor, now Eskom, as they were the only company advertising bursaries at the time. When he submitted his application to Eskom with a request for a recommendation, Eskom decided that they did not want to lose his talents and the utility decided to start awarding bursaries. Dr McRae was one of the first recipients.

He returned to Wits and started his second year in 1951, by which time he had six months left to complete his apprenticeship and had to complete the outstanding time during his university breaks. “It was quite tough, having to back to the bench during university vacations.”

Dr McRae completed his university degree in 1954 and from there decided that his future would be intertwined with that of Eskom. He rose through the ranks, primarily in power stations and engineering until he was appointed as Chief Executive in 1985.

Working as an apprentice fitter and turner proved an invaluable experience. “This was a great learning curve, and my experience would help me tremendously later in my career, right up to the time of being chief executive of Eskom. I came to understand and, most important, relate to them, and hopefully they did to me.”

Dr McRae oversaw the construction of Eskom’s current fleet of power stations, as head of its Central Generation Undertaking from 1971 to 1977, head of operations from 1977 to 1980, head of engineering from 1980 to 1984, and chief executive from 1985 to 1994. He oversaw the construction of all the major Eskom “six-pack” coal-fired power stations (Kriel, Matla, Duvha, Tutuka, Lethabo, Mathimba, Kendal and Majuba), the hydro-electric power stations (Gariep, Vanderkloof and Cahora Bassa), the pumped storage power stations (Drakensburg and Palmiet), and the Koeberg nuclear power station in South Africa. He was chief executive from 1985 till his retirement in 1994.

His only son, Donald (BA 1982, BA Hon 1983), a renowned journalist and author of Under Our Skin: A White Family's Journey Through South Africa's Darkest Years, recalls his father could not escape a picture in his office at the national electricity provider: "Against a canvas of blue sky, giant cooling towers and gleaming electrical plant shimmered in the distance. And yet, curiously, an African mud hut in the corner of the photograph always caught his eye. It was a black home without electricity, and its contrast with the lavish new power station haunted him."

At this most challenging time in South African history, Dr McRae worked tirelessly to promote the benefits of electricity as a driver of social and economic development. Business Day’s obituary commented: “His remarkable courage was revealed in his meetings with the ANC in 1988, his promotion of equal opportunity during the height of the apartheid era, and his legendary ‘electricity-for-all’ electrification campaign. These initiatives, and others, helped Eskom pre-empt and adapt to the social changes of the 1990s.”

Dr McRae brought great credit to Eskom and South Africa through his activities in the World Energy Council and the World Association of Nuclear Operators. The leadership given to these organisations, together with his activities in the Southern African Development Community, cemented his reputation.

Dr McRae was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering in 1989 for his outstanding contribution to the industry. Presenting the honorary degree, Professor David Glasser, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering said:  "McRae has a vivid vision that Southern Africa can become a growth centre of the world and that electricity has the potential to provide the platform for the economic upliftment of not only South Africa but also its neighbouring states. To achieve this, he is ignoring the current political constrains and the resistance to the idea of economic cooperation with states to the north of our borders. 

"He is using his engineering background, his managerial and negotiating talents and the infrastructure available to him at Eskom to clear the way towards and integrated subcontinental power grid."

Professor Glasser added that under McRae's leadership, Eskom was moving aggressively toward achieving the target of providing all South Africans with electricity.  "McRae is an engineer who is continually championing new, innovative approaches to attain this end."

After retiring from Eskom in 1994 he was appointed as the Chief Executive tasked to establish the National Electricity Regulator.

Current Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter said: “All of us at Eskom were saddened at hearing of the passing of Dr Ian. He was a true giant in the SA energy industry, and transformed Eskom with his inspirational leadership. Personally I was humbled to have met him soon after I stepped into the role of CEO, and personally experienced his passion for Eskom, and his keen interest in the business that he built.”

The Engineering News obituary offered high praise: “Dr McRae’s passing defines the end of an era in South Africa’s electricity supply, an era characterised by his remarkable visionary leadership. Committed to genuine consultation, McRae epitomised at-your-service leadership.”

Dr McRae received many awards, the most notable being: The Order of Meritorious Service (Gold Class) South Africa in 1993; the Servant Leadership Award (Samford University US) in 1992; and the World Energy Council 75th Anniversary Award for Global Leadership in 1998.

Dr McRae lost his daughter Heather (BA Hons 1980) in 2018, his wife, Jess, in 2019 and leaves his son, Donald, who recalls his relationship with his father in this 2012 article from the Guardian.

Sources: Eskom archives, Mining Weekly, Business Day and The Guardian

June Schneider (1939-2020)

Dr June Schneider (BMus 1959, PhD 1962), much-loved wife, mother, grandmother, friend and family bedrock, died in New York on 22 July, three days after her 61st wedding anniversary at the age of 81. A composer, champion of music and dance, esteemed professor, critic and musicologist, she obtained her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand at the age of 23 - the youngest at that point in the University’s history. She went on to teach in the University’s music faculty, as well as at Emory University and Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. 

She developed the award-winning exhibition “Sensation” at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and was a co-founder of the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. In New York, June continued to build upon her passion for childhood education and she revamped the Children’s Museum of Manhattan where she curated many exhibitions including the life and work of artist Maira Kalman.

She was the dance critic for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and wrote frequently about dance, music and opera. June loved ballet having studied it in her youth. She went on to serve on the board of the American Ballet Theatre and was a founding board member of Complexions Dance Company. She was often seen backstage at the Metropolitan Opera House, where she was a friend, supporter and advocate for the dancers who adored her.

She met the love of her life, David (LLB 1959), at an engagement party in Johannesburg. They were married before the couple for whom the engagement party was held, and they danced the night away at their wedding and on their honeymoon, and never stopped dancing together. They loved to travel and entertain; loved collecting art and supporting aspiring artists.

June was known for her warmth and hospitality, always graciously welcoming visitors from Wits to New York. “She remained a loyal Witsie throughout her life and played an important role in setting up the University of the Witwatersrand Fund Inc. The University is extremely grateful for the enormous contribution June made to her alma mater and very proud of her remarkable achievements and illustrious career,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib.

June is survived by her beloved husband David, sons John (Hope Cohn) and Anthony (Caroline Levy), and her grandchildren Jack, Sophie, Harry and Max as well as her “big” brother Colin Benjamin, and about a million devoted friends. She was a collector of music, art, friends, and quotations. June was fond of quoting the Rolling Stones on any occasion, and, quoting William Blake, exhorted everyone she loved to “kiss the joy as it flies.”

Inspiring influence

June was a great inspiration and tireless supporter of new music and new ideas. She made an indelible imprint on her students, who include accomplished composers such as Kevin Volans (BMus 1972) and Michael Blake (BMus 1976).

Volans, who currently divides his time between Ireland and Spain, spoke about June’s influence on his early career in Wits Review (Oct 2014): “She encouraged me to write my thesis on modernist Karlheinz Stockhausen, who, in 1970, in terms of audience attendance figures was the world’s most successful composer of all time, as well as a leader of the avant-garde. When I first heard Stockhausen’s piano pieces, I was fascinated. They were beautiful – it was abstract impressionism but without the introspection of pre-war expressionism, which I found too turgid. For me, in a visual sense, Stockhausen’s music was very similar to the art of Jackson Pollock.”

He dedicated two compositions Looping Point and Turning Point from 2012 to June and recalled her impact:

June Schneider, or Dr June as she was always known, arrived at the Wits Music department to teach in my 4th and final year there in 1971. From my point of view, she arrived in the nick of time. After an extremely stressful 3rd year, I had had something of a breakdown and was at a very low ebb, ready to throw in the towel and maybe even join the family dry cleaning business. June changed all that.

She was exquisitely turned out, always. This in itself was a breath of fresh air in the department. Beautifully coiffed and made up (this was the age of Mary Quant) she floated into our dull lecture theatre, exuding style, cool charm and delicacy. Fairly soon after she arrived one of our class began making notes on her dresses, convinced that she never would wear the same one twice! Her delivery mirrored her appearance: always lecturing without notes, always precise, clear and fascinating. Nothing bumbled, nothing fumbled, no waffle. What distinguished her from almost everyone else who lectured us is that much of her lecture material was original research.

She was in many instances a prime source – if she talked about the music of Stockhausen or Berio, it was as a musician who both knew these composers and had discussed their work with them.

Very soon after her first lecture, she asked me to accompany her to her office. I was nervous. What had I done wrong now? She asked me to be seated, and began, “I have been asked to supervise your 4th year thesis, and I think I should tell you that I have been warned that you are a dangerous young man. So... RIGHT! Let's show them what you can do!” Nothing could have given me a greater lift or greater incentive.

Little did I know how many times I would have to re-write that thesis. Every draft came back from Dr June covered in her immaculate italic script with things like: Clarify. Give an example. Too many ideas in this sentence. And very helpful suggestions too. This was in the days before word processing, so everything had to be written out again and again by hand.

She taught me how to write. One idea per sentence – clearly and concisely stated – just like her lectures. Thank you, dear dear Dr June!

Marian Laserson (1936-2020)

Marian Laserson (BArch 1975), ­nee Spilkin, architect, town planner, champion of wetlands, and heritage campaigner passed away on 10 July at the Morningside Clinic from COVID-19 at the age of 83.

Marian was born in 28 September 1936, the daughter of Joseph and Rachel Spilkin.  Her father was a Johannesburg civil and structural engineer, whose practice was involved in many of the buildings in the city. He retired at age 85, but he clearly sparked an interest in his daughter in engineering and building technology. From her mother, Marian drew her social activism, as Rachel was politically active in the Progressive Party. 

At over the age of 80, Marian was still a practicing professional architect and activist. She was a person of considerable intellect, but her human touch, her sense of humour and her service ethic were her outstanding traits. 

Marian was an active campaigner in town planning and urban regeneration across a wide swathe of the north east of Johannesburg. Her interests were varied. Her knowledge of City bylaws and routes through the inner city and how to lodge objections (which she often did on behalf of public interest groups) was vast.  Her advice was concise, practical and always followed up with an e-mail to explain exactly what needed to be done to fight a heritage case.

Marian was instrumental in saving many wetlands and green spaces at the Huddle Park golf course. Over the years she managed to block many proposed developments on this land, which could have destroyed it. It has been developed into a unique recreational facility that combines golf, cycling, walking, dog walking and acrorobics. Marian believed in the link between wetlands, ecology, biodiversity, wild life and a green belt. She also kept a close eye on the rehabilitation of the Bruma Lake and was keenly interested in the Orange Grove Waterfall and the long-term project to restore this site.

More recently she was involved in trying to save the graveyard area in Linksfield where many patients of the Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital are buried. About 7000 graves from between 1895 and 1957 are concerned and Marian defended the preservation of the medical history and the graves. The facility was the then Rietfontein Hospital.

While never afraid to voice a strong opinion about planning issues, she also saw opportunities to create new green urban spaces, for example, around Paterson Park.  She sought to integrate architecture, social theory and compatible property development.  

Marian grew up in Johannesburg and matriculated in 1952 at 16 years old from Johannesburg Girls High School (Barnato Park).  She was awarded a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1975 and started her career as lecturer in the Department of Building Management at Wits.

Between 1973 and 1974, she influenced the career trajectory of Professor Franco Frescura (BArch 1977, MArch 1980, PhD 1986). “I first met Marian in 1974 upon my return to academia following my rustication. I never did manage to pass Physics in my second year of studies, and when the Department replaced this plague with a course called Building Science, Marian became one of my lecturers. Marian not only got me to do enough work to pass, but, strangely enough it was thanks to her efforts that I eventually entered a life in academia. One of the courses she taught was Social Surveys, and although I had worked out the ethical implications of Pilot Surveys on my own, it was thanks to her that I realized that life as an architect could be more fun than doing window details. It was due to Marian also that my first major research project was a study of the social and economic impact of demolitions in Doornfontein and New Doornfontein, which introduced me to the world of heritage and historical research.”

She did not pursue architectural design in a significant way, opting for a career in teaching. Between 1985 and 2005 she worked as a lecturer at the Technikon Witwatersrand in the departments of Architecture and Management and Quantity Surveying. Here her principal specialisation was in construction technology. She promoted architectural technology as an equal field to design. After 1992 she established her own professional architectural practice and offered a service in preparing town planning applications, handling rezoning and obtaining consent use.

Marian married Bob Lurie in 1960, but he died in May 1966 in a boat-related accident while on a scuba diving trip in a remote area in Mozambique.  She had a 16-month-old son, Marc, and was three-months pregnant, with her second son, Keith, at the time of this tragedy. In 1980, Marian married Jack Laserson, an optometrist who died in 2014.

Throughout her life Marian was “a joiner” – all the many societies she joined show her breadth of interests and the depth of her curiosity about life and many of her interests went beyond interest to sustained passion. Marian was even a volunteer firefighter. She was the first female Rotary chair in South Africa and a Rotarian of 23 years. It was another dimension of her commitment to community service and desire to improve the lives of people from all walks of life.

Her community activism saw her join the City’s Ward 73 Committee with the portfolio of Urban, Management and Development Control, including heritage, storm water, ground water and rivers.  This was where her expertise and her passion for water management married happily. She was a member of the Orange Grove Residents Association committee for some 25 years and until recently served as its Vice Chairperson.  It is not surprising that her advice was sought by other Residents Associations on land use and building regulations.

In 2019 she was given a Lifetime Achiever award by the South African Institute of Architectural Technologists for her work over the years. She was one of the founders of the institute and was the first architect who registered as a member.

Marian is survived by her two sons, Keith and Marc, and four grandchildren.

“Dynamite in a small package. As tiny as her feet were, I could never fill her shoes, but am really proud to walk in her footsteps," said Keith Lurie.

Source: Kathy Munro

Antoinette Murdoch (1972-2020)

The art world has lost a very fiery and colourful character, Antoinette Murdoch (MA 2010); artist, arts administrator and former head of the ArtBank-Jhb and the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG).

I have known Antoinette since she was an exceptional student at the then Wits Technikon in Johannesburg. Her work as a student was best known through her iconic series wedding dresses made entirely out of tissues, embroidered, smocked and exquisitely sewn together as a statement around women and the roles they are required to play. Her solo exhibitions at the Civic gallery, Spark and most recently at Circa continued the themes of the role of women and the perceptions of women in society. Her work was skillfully made, chartered new material uses (like the use of tape measures, felt or carpeting as a medium) and was loaded with social commentary often with a sharp and acerbic sense of humour and wit. 

I got to know her better when she was appointed as curator/manager of the Civic Gallery where she came into her own as an administrator and feisty champion of the arts within the Civic Theatre complex where she fought for the gallery to remain open. (This sadly is no longer so).

Later on Antoinette took over the running of the Johannesburg Artbank – an initiative that I had helped to get off the ground. Sadly, this again did not get the local government support that it needed and was closed down and sold off. She fought hard to make this work but lost out to the powers that be.

All the while she was making her own art and raising two beautiful daughters. She showed on group exhibitions at Godart Gallery and other spaces in Johannesburg and taught at various tertiary institutions like LISOF Fashion Design College. When the Chief curator position opened up at JAG, Antoinette was appointed and her fight for the arts continued.

She engaged with Johannesburg city officials in every possible way to repair the aging building, she worked on policies for the collection and supported the Friends of JAG in their efforts to raise funds and provide money for acquisitions. Her days became increasingly frustrated taken up by endless city council meetings and lobbies on behalf of JAG. Because she was an opinionated fighter, she bore the brunt of antagonism from any in these meetings who made their fight personal. In spite of this she was able to get funding to initiate various phases of the roof and building repairs that are still ongoing to this day. These fights took their toll on her mental and physical self, culminated in her resignation while at breaking point. This resulted in her publishing a scathing open letter about her experience at JAG. Her health suffered as did her state of mind.

After a self-imposed, she started making artwork again and engaging with the art world through her work with Stephan Welz and Co auctioneers as a consultant. Sadly, her situation worsened to a point where she was isolated again.

My last engagement with he was her contribution to the Ampersand Foundation Award 21st Anniversary exhibition at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery that I curated in September 2019. At that point she was already frail and disoriented. She remained fairly reclusive from that point onward and only really engaged with family and close friends by telephone. It was with shock that we learned of her succumbing to COVID-related complications. I pay tribute to her talent as an artist, her role as a mother and a feisty fighter for the art world in South Africa. Antoinette leaves a legacy that will be continued by her daughters Zoey and Mia. RIP dear Antoinette, may you find peace at last.

Source: Gordon Froud (BA Fine Art 1987, PDE 1987), Art Times

Julien Ivor Ellis Hoffman (1925- 2020)

Professor Julien Hoffman (BSc 1945, BSc Hon 1946, MBBCh 1949, DSc 1970, DSc Med honoris causa 2015) died on 23 June 2020. He was born on 26 July in Salisbury (now Harare), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1925. He received the degree of BSc Hons in 1945 and graduated cum laude from the Wits Medical School in 1949 and began an internship in Internal Medicine at the Johannesburg General Hospital.

In 1952, he was an intern and then a Registrar in Internal Medicine at Central Middlesex Hospital in London. He returned to Johannesburg in 1955 to a position of Registrar in Internal Medicine at the General Hospital. His career in Cardiology was initiated as a Research Fellow at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London in 1957. He then moved to the US in 1959 as a Fellow in Paediatric Cardiology at the Children’s Hospital, Boston, and in 1960 was a Fellow in the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. Julien Hoffman

He returned to Zimbabwe to practice clinical cardiology, but returned to the US in 1962 to join Abraham Rudolph (MBBCh 1946, MM 1951, DSc Med honoris causa 2006) in the Paediatric Cardiology Division of the Department of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

In 1966 Rudolph and Hoffman joined the Pediatric Department at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) and the two were also were appointed as Senior Staff of the Cardiovascular Research Institute. Although their clinical interests in Paediatric Cardiology were similar, Rudolph’s research interests centred on fetal and neonatal cardiovascular function, whereas Hoffman was primarily interested in the physiology of coronary circulation; separate research laboratories were established.

After 32 years, he became an Emeritus Professor in 1994, but continued to actively participate in clinical care and particularly, teaching. He also continued to consult with and advise former Fellows and to contribute to the literature.

During his BSc degree, Hoffman developed his first interests in research, directed to studies of spermatogenesis. He also began to appreciate the importance of statistics. While in Johannesburg, he assisted members of the faculty in Medicine in statistical analysis and expanded his expertise by association with John Kerrich (BSc 1924, BSc Hons 1926, MSc 1928, LLD honoris causa 1972), chief of the Statistics Department at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1964, he introduced a course in statistics for Fellows in the Cardiovascular Research Institute and taught this course for about 30 years. He was a member of the Biostatistics Group of UCSF, responsible for coordinating statistics practice and also served as a consultant in statistics for several medical journals. In 2015 he published the book Biostatistics for Medical and Biomedical Practitioners, which reviews the basic aspects, the applications and the reliability of statistics.

Early in his career in Paediatric Cardiology, Hoffman reported on the high incidence of spontaneous closure of ventricular septal defects, particularly in young children. This stimulated a continuing interest in the natural history of all congenital cardiovascular malformations. During the 50 years of practice in clinical pediatric cardiology, he pursued this interest in natural history and also assessed the effectiveness of various surgical procedures. He authored a book The Natural and Unnatural History of Congenital Heart Disease, published in 2009. This presents an outstanding review of the natural history of the various congenital cardiovascular anomalies and how they respond to surgical procedures. He also discussed how variations in morphology and haemodynamics of the various lesions influence outcomes.

Hoffman was a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher. He made himself readily available for comment and advice to students, residents, fellows and faculty to discuss clinical issues, research interests and to provide guidance regarding statistics. He also maintained contact with many of his former fellows, now faculty members in institutions in the US and abroad, to share in their interests and provide advice and criticism. He had a congenial personality and was frequently invited as a visiting professor and as a speaker at clinical and research conferences, because his informal presentations and lectures were always stimulating.

He served on many NIH and other boards and committees and received many awards, including Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, many distinguished visiting professorships and invited lectureships. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Medicine from his Alma Mater, the University of the Witwatersrand in 2015. He delivered the annual UCSF Faculty Research Lecture, one of the highest honours awarded to a University of California academician, and had an endowed chair, the Julien IE Hoffman Chair in Cardiac Surgery at UCSF, named in his honour. 

Despite his exceptionally busy academic life, Hoffman found time to read avidly and travel extensively, to develop deep understanding of and knowledge in an amazingly diverse number of subjects, including the collection and study of minerals. Hoffman was the epitome of integrity, humility, and erudition with a brilliantly critical mind and sometimes acerbic sense of humor. He also played a great game of tennis, no doubt applying a superb understanding of mathematics and statistics to his shot placement to offset his lack of speed.

Hoffman leaves behind his loving wife of 34 years, Dr Kathy Lewis, and two adult children, Anna, a neonatal intensive care nurse in the unit her mother formerly headed, and Daniel, a third-year surgical resident at the University of California in San Francisco.

He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Source: Abraham M Rudolph (MBBCh 1946, MM 1951, DSc Med honoris causa 2006)











Obituaries 2019

Sydney Brenner (1927-2019)

Wits Review’s April 2019 issue touched on the life and work of the scientist Sydney Brenner (BSc 1945, BSc Hons 1946, MSc 1947, MBBCh 1951, DSc honoris causa 1972), who died in Singapore just as the magazine was on its way to readers. In the following tribute, we focus on his early years and time at Wits.

Brenner’s father, Morris, came to South Africa from Lithuania in 1910 to escape conscription; his mother, Leah, came from Latvia in 1922. Morris was a shoe repairer and never learned to read or write, though he had a great aptitude for languages. Sydney spent a good deal of time with a friend of his mother’s, and learned to read by the age of four from the newspapers that were on her table in lieu of tablecloths. A customer of his father’s noticed him reading one day and took him to kindergarten, run by the Presbyterian church in Germiston. He completed the first three years of school in one year and matriculated at the age of 14.

Recalling his boyhood in the video series Web of Stories, he said that discovering the world of books in the Germiston public library (which was funded by Andrew Carnegie) was very important – especially as there were no books at home – and he read voraciously about all kinds of things. One standout book was The Young Chemist by Sherwood Taylor, which got Brenner started with chemistry experiments and particularly an interest in pigments found in plants. Another was The Science of Life by HG Wells, Julian Huxley and GP Wells, which Brenner took from the library and didn’t return – he just paid the fine. Experiments and teaching yourself were the key: “I realised you didn’t have to ask people to do things, you could just go and do them… That is something I’ve kept all my life. I’ve never learnt anything from going to courses. If I want to learn a new subject, I get a book and I start doing it.”

Any subject was food for the mind. His uncle would take him for lunch (mixed grill) at the Fordsburg Hotel and give him some pocket money to spend on a series of second-hand books called Amazing Stories. He joked later with his scientific colleague Francis Crick that he should be wary of plagiarism because the idea of life on earth being seeded from outer space had already been published in Amazing Stories back in the 1930s.

He didn’t come top of his classes at school and didn’t find it a stimulating environment. University, on the other hand, was “a tremendous liberation”. In 1942, aged 15, he enrolled at Wits to study medicine – the only course for which he could get a bursary from the Germiston Town Council. That covered tuition alone. Commuting from Germiston by bicycle and train every day, carrying his homemade sandwiches, he also had to fit in his sideline: prayers for the dead at the synagogue, earning sixpence a session as a minyan man.

In the first year of medicine, students had to learn botany, zoology, chemistry and physics. One of his influential teachers was “a very great man” called Edward Roux (BSc 1924, MSc 1927), who was mainly interested in plant physiology. (He was a Communist, wrote Time Longer Than Rope, and was banned in 1964.) Another impressive influence was a Mr Weinstein, a refugee, who showed him chromatography in the laboratory after classes. Fellow student Harold Daitz (BSc 1943, BSc Hons 1944, MBBCh 1947) was another; “someone who really taught me about the importance of asking questions in science”. Then there was his friend Seymour Papert (BA 1950, PhD 1953, DSc Eng honoris causa 2016), “a brilliant mathematician” who became known as the “father of artificial intelligence” at MIT. Papert got Brenner interested in computers and was also involved with him in leftwing politics.

Brenner played some rugby in his first year at Wits. He was SRC President in 1950, active in debating, and also made friends with students in the arts, including Stanley Glasser (BCom 1950), with whom he wrote a film script. Those were days when “you’d try your hand at anything, so we did lots of these things as students; it was all very exciting.”

The one subject he wasn’t that interested in was medicine. In any case, by the time he graduated he would still be under 21, too young to register as a doctor. So he deviated into a BSc, still keeping his bursary at first, with the plan of returning to medicine later.

Histology lecturer Joe Gillman (BSc 1929, BSc Hons 1930, MBBCh 1933, PhD 1940) was a significant figure in his life. “People couldn’t stand to be with him,” Brenner recalled, but Gillman had a wide intellectual influence. Alfred Oettle (BSc 1939, MBBCh 1943) taught him about microscopy. “I found this field of being able to look down a microscope and actually see cells completely fascinating.”

The compulsory BSc subject of history and philosophy of science aroused his interest, especially in the thinking that had emerged from science in the 20th century. “This kind of tinge in one’s attitudes to things became quite important in my development.”

Studying physiology at the medical school “was the beginning of a new kind of interest … what is now called biochemistry”. In the library he found Perspectives in Biochemistry (a book apparently unknown to his lecturers), which “opened my eyes to the great richness that could come from the molecular explanation of living processes. I think it is then, in about 1943, that I realised that you’ve got to do chemistry and biology and there’s got to be a science that studies the function of cells which brings together life and chemistry in some strong sense.” A book called The Cell in Development and Heredity spurred him to look at chromosomes – first using onion cells and then, for his Master’s thesis, the elephant shrew. “I was the first person to do this. Phillip Tobias then did the gerbil and so cytogenetics had become established from this ... the first connection of genes and cells.”

For anatomy under Raymond Dart, he was assigned to a cadaver with five Afrikaans-speaking students who refused to speak English, so he became fully bilingual and never had trouble getting train bookings again, he said. He also studied palaeontology under Robert Broom.

Working towards his BSc and Honours, he was taught by postgraduate students such as Joel Mandelstam (BSc 1940, BSc Hons 1941) and learned in a collaborative way with a small group who were doing research projects. Sometimes he built his own equipment – he even had to learn how to blow glass so he could make a Warburg manometer for cell physiology observations.

His bursary was suspended when he decided to do Honours, but to pay his way he got a job as a histology laboratory technician, making teaching slides of the human body by sectioning, staining and mounting tissue. “There I discovered the wonders of Pacini’s fluid”, a preservative containing alcohol … “I decided to have a taste of this stuff … I woke up on the floor of the laboratory the next morning still holding the cylinder.”

Brenner’s first published scientific paper was “Porphyrin fluorescence in the livers of pellagrins in relation to ultra-violet light” (Nature 1945), written in his Honours year with Joe Gillman and his brother Teddy Gillman.

It was a time when a Wits student might feel he could do anything, a “turmoil of ideas … everything was on the go” – and Brenner’s interest was caught by multiple subjects, including astronomy, geology and palaeontology. Students went to dig at Sterkfontein on weekends and played poker there all night; “the only thing I ever discovered from this excavation was the ‘Sterkfontein hand’, which was a royal flush in hearts.” He went on an expedition with geologists to the Kalahari in 1947 and wrote a paper about desert cycles being correlated with glacial cycles. He also met the geologist Alexander du Toit, who proposed the idea of continental drift, and who dressed for the Kalahari in a black suit with waistcoat, tie and hat.

When the time came to decide about returning to medicine, Brenner consulted Dart, who was then the Dean and “a very wise man”. He advised Brenner to finish medicine so that he could get a job as a biochemist in a medical school. The reluctant medical student continued with research and “used to just polish off the [medical] course in the last six weeks of the year”. He didn’t feel suited to clinical work. “I think I’m the only person who’s ever passed medicine who had never seen a patient until his examination.” But he got top marks in obstetrics and gynaecology, because he didn’t mind being sent to work in a particular hospital on the docks in Durban and staying in the grotty hotel there. “There was nothing else to do except learn how to deliver babies … and I learnt a lot about life that way.”

Speaking of his strengths and weaknesses, he said “one should always have a complete sense of how ludicrous you can be”. His sense of humour and love of wordplay were put to good use in his columns in Current Biology, “Loose Ends” and “False Starts”.

He felt his main intellectual achievements were showing the triplet nature of DNA, and proving the existence of messenger RNA. “I think my great contribution to that was to find a way of doing a decisive experiment.” His work on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans pointed to the genes regulating organ development and programmed cell death, and won him the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

As he grew older he became more interested in biography, “because I think the past does live on, does live in individuals, and it’s very interesting to be able to read about it.”

Brenner’s wife, May (born Covitz, formerly Balkind) was an educational psychologist. She died in 2010 and her first son Jonathan Balkind died in 2018. Sydney and May’s children Belinda, Carla and Stefan survive them.

Sources: Web of Stories; The Nobel Prize; Nature; Science; The Lancet; The New York Times; The Guardian; Agency for Science, Technology and Research; Wits honorary degree citation

Dr Jonathan Paul Clegg (1953-2019)

Musician Johnny Clegg with a Witsie Forever poster

The University of the Witwatersrand extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the legendary Johnny Clegg, a Wits alumnus and former lecturer, whose life and work illustrate the multiculturalism and social integration that is envisaged in the South African Constitution. 

A lifelong friend of Wits, Johnny obtained his Bachelor of Arts (1976) and BA Honours (1977) degrees at Wits University and joined the Wits Social Anthropology Department to pursue an academic career for four years. He wrote several scholarly papers on Zulu music and dance over the years. 

The University of the Witwatersrand bestowed its highest honour, an honorary doctorate (DMus), on him in 2007. (Read the citation at:

A true, brave South African hero has fallen, but his music and art will remain with us and serve as a gift for generations to come.  

Johnny Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66 on the afternoon of 16 July 2019 at his family home in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As a singer, songwriter, dancer, anthropologist and musical activist he showed what it was to embrace other cultures without losing your identity, said his manager Roddy Quin. "He used his music to speak to every person. With his unique style of music he traversed cultural barriers like few others. In many of us he awakened awareness."

He was born on 7 June 1953 in England and moved to Johannesburg with his mother Muriel, a cabaret and jazz singer, as a child. His stepfather, Dan Pienaar, was a reporter who sometimes took him into the townships.

His exposure to migrant workers (including Charlie Mzila, a cleaner and musician) during adolescence introduced him to Zulu culture and music. In 1971, he was the only white person in South Africa to write Zulu as a matric subject. He remembered his time at Wits as one of being stretched, struggling at first to adapt but eventually excelling and enjoying his studies and campus activities. Later, he enjoyed teaching, seeing it as a kind of performance.

When he was 17, he and Sipho Mchunu formed their first band, called Juluka. At the age of 33, in 1986, at the height of apartheid, he partnered with Dudu Zulu to form his second inter-racial band, called Savuka. He also recorded several solo albums and enjoyed international success, selling out concerts wherever he performed.

Under apartheid, the bands’ crossover music was subjected to censorship and restrictions on the state-owned radio. Touring brought the bands into conflict with laws forbidding racial mixing in public venues. Many shows were closed down by the police but a substantial following of students and migrant workers developed.

Juluka performed at the first Free People’s Concert at Wits in 1971 and at subsequent concerts. One of the student organisers recalled seeing the “sheer joy and exuberance” on the faces in the audience during their performance.

Johnny received awards from a number of local and international bodies for his contribution to music and society, notably the Knight of Arts and Letters from the French Government in 1991 and the Order of the British Empire in 2015. In 2012 he received the Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) from the South African government. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Dartmouth College in the USA and the City University of New York, as well as Wits University.

He authored the book "UkuBuyisa Isidumbu" (1981, Ravan Press) and presented papers on "The Music of Zulu Immigrant Workers in Johannesburg" in 1981 at the Grahamstown International Library of African Music and "Towards an Understanding of African Dance: The Zulu Isishameni Style" in 1982 at Rhodes University.

Johnny was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015 but continued to tour and perform around the world.

He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Jenny, and their sons Jesse and Jaron.

A group of South African musicians recorded one of his songs, The Crossing, as a tribute to him last year. Watch the video:

King of Time video, filmed by his son Jaron:

I’ve Been Looking, performed with his son Jesse:

Video of memorial:

Sources: Wits University statement; Honorary degree citation; Roddy Quin (manager, friend and family spokesman);; Wits Review July 2008 and October 2017.

“We were completely absorbed by this idea that there could be another possibility … in a time when we were fragmented…”

  •  Johnny Clegg, in an interview on Kfm, February 2018

Jesse Clegg (BA 2012, BA Hons 2013):

In 2017 my dad and I wrote a song together [I’ve Been Looking]. It’s a song about the things in life you can’t replace. To my dad that was his family. Despite his success, he regarded his role in his family as his most important duty. He was a vulnerable, generous and loving role model for my brother and I. He taught us to be curious about the world and to shape our lives around our passion. He believed the greatest gift that a father could give a son is a strong moral compass. 

Tribute by Paul Clingman (BA 1973):

For more than 45 years, Johnny and I were the closest of friends, friends whose ideas, likes, dislikes and affinities affected each other in so many ways, and whose closeness must count as a gift in a world all too ready to ride roughshod over the fragile.

How do you pay tribute to Johnny, to the person in all his roundedness, to the friend known in ways that so many, who have been exposed to one or another side of the singer, the dancer, the brilliant performer, have not necessarily had the chance to get to know?

When someone irrevocably goes from your life, and you know that memories are all you have, it is only with trepidation that you call to them, as, unshareable any longer with their shared origins, something essential to their meaning has gone forever. Yet, at the same time, that meaning that remains carries the full weight of a kindred lifetime, of spirit, of so much that never needed articulation beyond perhaps a knowing look, whose knowledge was full of…  

…Driving around the Yeoville of our ringing youth, guitars always present in the back of the car. Mons Road, Muller Street, Alpha Court, a chaotic bedroom, sticks, a shield, whitewall tyre sandals, like the ones that Bafazana Qoma would make when he finally managed to scrounge a place to sleep at the Wits compound, a concertina, umhupe bow, hand-made for the first time in someone else’s garden. The backyard room in West Street, with Sipho Mchunu, already having earned his praising as Down Below, leaping up to execute a giya, hands and stick whistling, unseeable from the unhearing house, at the sound of a Pondo scale I was playing seated on his high bed. My place in Becker Street, with the bell of Maddy Prior’s voice tolling out Long Lankin, and the Celtic echoes and snare clack that rang so resonantly with us both. Tuesday nights in the courtyard at the old Medical Research, he alive with the dancing, and its songs like Apollo 11, chronicling a unique perspective on this world and the world beyond it, tying concrete to an old night sky, and a cassette recorder misidentified as a television, at a time when such a thing could only be guessed at in South Africa. The worn dice thrown on the floors of backrooms in search of the elusive ’leven, rand notes clenched between teeth, snapped fingers and little pillars of cents scattering. The dusty comings and goings at George Goch, at Mai Mai, beer passed hand to mouth in a tin, he dancing, regardless. His demure figure seated, as yet still seated! on stage, beside me at the Wits Great Hall, evoking threads of magic from the strings of a Bellini guitar, and his harmonies sung, adding a special life to my songs, taking us away from where we had been. Sitting between the bushes at Urania Street, thinking about other things. Dark days, when you had to work hard to experience Padre Padrone, or take a real chance to see Z, or take your courage to watch The Sorrow and the Pity, or The World at War, sixteen-millimetred into a deserted Central Block Sunday night. An attempt to buy a toasted sandwich at the Doll House, after a gig, in the hope that the midnight would obscure the sight of Sipho on the back seat, so that we could eat together, and laughing at them all when we couldn’t. And that laughter – always with us – in his narrow office at Wits, on the squash courts in Hillbrow till we rolled on the floor with it, at the rakish snooker tables in miscued disbelief, at the disreputable Space Invader machines in focused astonishment, over Scrabble boards, raucous, proclaiming words invented for the spur of the moment, crying with hilarity in my bass-player Lanny’s rehearsal basement over nothing more than the sheer magic of the brand new sounds we found we could make together, and the promise of it all. And years later, with promise reaching upwards, unbridled roaring at a table in Paris. The discussions about absolutely everything, but often about endlessly beckoning irreconcilables, with Vincent Gray – not yet Professor, but going there – in the Wits staff canteen in a restaurant which in another time revolved, and where once we had seen Barney Kessel eke a different kind of infinity from just six strings. I, sleeping on his floor, he, sleeping on mine, our lives changing, and changing our lives, readying ourselves as best we could, we thought, for what happens and what does not. GaRankuwa, Duduza, ThabaNchu, Qwa Qwa, Botshabelo, Ermelo and so many other nights in so many other places, the backs of vans, the fronts of trucks, the bottom of a bridge in London, the pages of my words. He, cherishing the loved Jenny, holding the still holdable Jesse and Jaron. I, with Aliza, bringing our Tslil and Eden into a different world. Weekly and more than weekly breakfasts here and there, godfathership, real and honorary, each other’s children flowering in each other’s hearts. And a million other things – all till the last kiss as we parted, both of us knowing the moment for what it was, and both seeing it so clearly in that look, that look that really never had to say anything at all…

So I pay tribute the only way I can – not with any song or poem or the exuberance of youth’s doubtlessness, but with a flow of older thoughts, tufts tossed on an eddying, overflowing river of endless other moments swirling behind my eyes, alone, that now remain to me alone.

I pay tribute to one who left, alone, so, so much too soon. I pay tribute to my friend, to a man whose boy’s heart never ceased searching, never ceased affirming life, never ceased feeling things with extraordinary generosity, and with all the weight that feeling can muster, never ceased driving those muscles to say something that could be seen out there in the world, loud, clear, uncompromising, real. Like love. Like friendship. Like silence. 

“We experimented so much – at a time when it was really not fashionable or legal to do so – with finding space for one another in a song.”

  • Johnny Clegg

Extract of tribute by Professor Charles van Onselen (BA Hons 1971), at Johnny Clegg’s memorial:

When the political power grid collapsed in the 1970s the country and the campuses were plunged into proverbial darkness. Hoping to find each other and a way out, many reached for isms. .. The isms, like torchlights, cast long, narrow beams, enabling us to pick out some of the central features of our collective predicament. But it was Johnny, as creative as he was intellectually independent, who invented the Clegg lamp. The Clegg lamp casts a gentler, rounder, warmer light, capable of illuminating forbidding spaces in ways that allowed us to see without squinting and to find and recognise friendly faces.

In the 1980s, at a large public gathering at Wits, Johnny delivered an unforgettable lecture on the origins, development and inclusive nature of African migrant workers’ musical repertoires.  … He charmed, delighted and entertained his audience in a stunning fashion. The content of the lecture, illustrated with bursts of music, was itself a work of art… Like all great teachers, Johnny could make ideas sing and dance and take on a life of their own. … The light shed by the amazing Clegg lamp was not just about feel-good sentiments …. Turned up to its brightest setting, the lamp transmitted a piercing analytical light, capable of illuminating the deepest of theoretical issues with pertinent examples …

“People rush to find solace and comfort in their identity as a safe haven, but … you don’t really have to go there … you don’t have to outline yourself in a cultural, ethnic, racial or religious way.”

  • Johnny Clegg, in an interview on Kfm, February 2018

Extract of tribute by Adam Klein (1973 SRC President), Adjunct Professor, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, New York, writing in the Daily Maverick:

Johnny was 15 and I was about to start at Wits following conscript military service in the SA Navy. A friend and I purchased a 1948 Land Rover for R400 and planned to spend the year-end holidays driving through southern Africa – with a personal budget of all we could afford, R80 each.

We needed four people … An ad in the Johannesburg Star classifieds elicited a call from a wonderful woman, in the music industry, saying she had a son in high school who was kind of different but would be good on such a trip, would we accept him?

… So Johnny Clegg became our fourth travelling partner.

… We were near Monkey Bay on the shores of [Lake Malawi] … Johnny was sitting on a rock with his feet in the water, singing to his guitar.

Quietly, a woman appeared from a nearby village and sat near Johnny – she was in floods of tears. Raised a Zulu, she had married a Malawian miner and come to his home village, near where we now were. She had not heard Zulu ever since, let alone Zulu songs sung with the intensity, subtlety and beauty that was Johnny.

They talked, hugged, cried, sang.

Stephen de Stadler (BCom 1988), writing in The Village News:

As a young undergraduate at Wits University in 1984, I remember attending the Free People’s Concert and listening to (then) Juluka and being amazed at the humility of Johnny Clegg and his fundamental commitment to the elimination of racial inequality. The music and the songs will stay with us forever, but the man himself was truly an inspiration and an example that should be followed by all of us.

Alan Fine:

In September 1973, police were called into Anglo American’s Western Deep Levels Mine compound to deal with conflict. And 11 miners were shot dead by the police. With the headlines of these shootings in the newspapers, there was another round of demonstrations at Wits University. The Wits Wages Commission, headed by Steven Friedman, called a meeting intended to channel this student activism... 

A couple of dozen people signed up. One of them was Johnny Clegg, then just a junior student at Wits...

The first project in which that group was involved related to the then NP government’s decentralisation and “border areas” policy. The work involved … standing outside factory gates, and asking workers how much they were being paid … On about three occasions, the police arrived and took the student interviewers off to the local police station for questioning. Johnny Clegg was a regular in that research and in those encounters.

Glenn Moss (BA 1974, BA Hons 1976, MA1983) (In The New Radicals: A Generational Memoir of the 1970s):

Johnny Clegg’s fluency in Zulu made him a particularly valuable new member [of the Wages Commission], and he undertook translation of articles for Umsebenzi/Abasebenzi, the worker newspaper distributed by the Wages Commission at factory gates.

Arthur Goldstuck (BA 1984):

Every encounter with Johnny was memorable. It started at Wits when this offbeat anthropology lecturer was invited to give a guest lecture to our psychology class. Even in that dry academic setting, he was captivating, and his enthusiasm infectious. As a music journalist in the 1980s and 1990s, it was a privilege to get to know him intimately, yet telling his story was never ordinary. On one occasion, I went with him to the home of another pioneering musician, Paul Clingman, where Sipho Mchunu was living “illegally”, pretending to be a gardener because he was barred by the Group Areas Act from living in a white suburb. The interview was both inspiring and sobering, highlighting their struggle not only to make music together, but simply to be friends. Possibly the strangest memory of that day was giving Johnny a ride from his home to Sipho’s in my first car, a beaten-up old Beetle, because he didn’t have a car at the time. For me, the memory symbolises the extent to which his rise to fame was never easy, and the extent to which his humility was always a defining character.

Joyce Segerman (1926-2019)

Joyce Segerman (BSc 1948, MSc honoris causa 1995) died in Johannesburg on 10 July 2019 at the age of 93. She was the daughter of Betty and Abe Weinberg, he being a Lithuanian immigrant, and grew up in Johannesburg, matriculating at the Barnato Park High School before enrolling for a BSc at Wits University.

She was an accomplished research entomologist and widely recognised for her work on fleas of medical importance. She spent over 30 years in the Department of Medical Entomology at the South African Institute for Medical Research, providing training and advice on the control of fleas, mites and lice infestations to students and public health practitioners alike. She was awarded a Master of Science honoris causa in 1995 from Wits University, based on a revision of the flea fauna of southern Africa.

Joyce has one flea mite (Notiopsyllopus segermanae Fain 1977) and one mosquito (Aedes segermanae Huang 1997) named in her honour by colleagues in Belgium and the USA respectively. During her academic career, she published 20 scientific articles, including two books and one book chapter. 

Joyce was a committed member of the Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society for many years and is remembered by her many friends and family for her elegance, grace, generosity and dignity. She married her late husband Bernard Segerman in 1951 and leaves a daughter and three sons. 

Source: Maureen Coetzee, Lizette Koekemoer, Basil Brooke

Professor Sidney Setzer (1937 - 2019)

Professor Sidney Setzer passed away on the 11th of April 2019. Professor Setzer, taught at the Wits dental school for close to 50 years. He was Acting Dean and widely regarded as the father of paediatric dentistry in South Africa. He received various local and international awards during his career.

Wilfred Bruce Jackson (1930 – 2019)

Wilfred Bruce Jackson was an Electrical Engineer and trained at Wits from 1948 / 1947. 

Professor Frank Stuart Jones (1933-2019)

The economic historian, scholar and mentor Professor Frank Stuart Jones who was described as “intellectually vigorous and brilliant and extremely well read” died on 19 October 2019.

He was born in Timperley, near Altrincham, Manchester. His final years of school were in Altrincham Grammar School, before pursuing studies at the University of Oxford. He completed a BA degree in economics and history first class, and an honours degree at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford in 1955.Professor Frank Stuart Jones Photo by The Times

After completing a postgraduate diploma in education in 1958, he joined the Department of History at the University of Manchester as a research student in local history. At Manchester he completed his MA degree entitled ‘Education and Faith’. He taught in Whiteman School, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, USA, between 1958 and 1961. His academic career took him to Ricker College in Houlton, Maine, where he was an Assistant Professor between 1962 and 1965.

He sustained an intense interest in the interaction between the English cotton industry and financial institutions in Manchester – first by exploring the transformation of the independent Manchester financial institutions serving the growing cotton industry, and subsequently how the cotton magnates ventured into banking. This was the subject matter of his PhD, completed at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada between 1965 and 1968.

His academic career shifted to South Africa when he was appointed senior lecturer in economic history at Wits in 1969. As head of the Department of Economic History at Wits (1981–1983) and later head of the Division of Economic History (1987–1990), he emerged a prolific writer on the South African economy. In 1993 he was appointed Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa in the Department of Economics, where he published extensively on the development of the South African economy. After retiring from UNISA in 1999, he concluded an esteemed academic career as Honorary Professor at Wits between 2004 and 2010.

Professor Jones was one of the founding members of the Economic History Society of South Africa in 1980 and served as president in consecutive terms. He was also a long-serving editor of the society’s journal The South African Journal of Economic History. He spearheaded collaborative research on the development of the South African economy. His fascination with financial institutions ultimately resulted in the most acclaimed book on the imperial banks in South Africa, The Great Imperial Banks in South Africa (UNISA Press, 1996). Professor Jones contributed more than 20 scholarly articles to the South African Journal of Economic History and several more to other scholarly international journals in England, the US and India, and to local journals. He also edited and contributed to several special issues of the SAJEH on the macro-performance of the South African economy on a decade-by-decade basis. Jones delivered the most systematic and penetrating assessment of the performance of the South African economy in three books: The South African Economy, 1910–1990 (Macmillan, 1992), with A. L. Müller; The Decline of the South African Economy (Edward Elgar, 2002) as an edited volume with specialists in South Africa; and The South African Economy in the 1990s (Manchester University Press, 2010), an edited volume with Robert Vivian. His prolific scholarly enterprise leaves a footprint of excellence in print as well as an excellent intellectual legacy. A staunch critic of persistent ideological intervention by the state, his academic endeavours constituted the energy behind the study of economic and business history in South Africa for his more than 40 years of dedicated labour in South African universities.

Professor Jones believed in the virtues of a liberal arts education that, he believed, “can open the mind to the world of the past, and prepare new generations to raise up new worlds in the future” (quoted in the Houlton Pioneer Times, 11 April 1963, from his address to the Business and Professional Women’s Club, Houlton). He was a dedicated member of the St Mary’s Anglican Church in Johannesburg. He fed the poor and cared for the infirm. He was described as “a humble person blessed with the brilliance of analytical intellectual capabilities”.

Sources: Economic History of Developing Regions, Grietjie Verhoef

Dr Tessa Hochfeld (1972 – 2019)

Tessa Hochfeld graduated from Wits with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work in 1996 and from the London School of Economics with a Masters degree in Gender and Development Studies in 2000.  She started her professional career as a social worker for the Johannesburg Jewish Community Services in 1997 before moving to Wits as a lecturer in the Department of Social Work.  She spent a year at WISER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) and then followed Dr Leila Patel to the University of Johannesburg in 2006, where she found her academic research home in the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA). After obtaining her PhD (Wits) in 2015, she was promoted to Associate Professor at the CSDA.  The focus of her PhD was the Child Support Grant and she was viewed internationally as an expert on the administration of welfare assistance for children. She developed strong working relationships with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden and the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.  In addition to her daily work,  looking at wider issues of social welfare, social protection and social and gender justice, Tessa was supervising Masters and PhD students in South Africa and in Sweden, and was working on 11 journal articles at the time of her untimely death at the age of 46 in a freak cycling accident on 17 August 2019 in Johannesburg.  She leaves her husband, Rafi and two children, Jordan and Asher.

Dr Herbert Judes (1961 – 2019)

Herbert Judes succumbed to cancer in Israel in March 2019.

He was born, grew up and schooled in Springs, Gauteng. His father had wanted him to follow in his lawyer footsteps. However, his passion was Dentistry and he devoted himself to building an illustrious career in this field. He graduated BDS in June 1965 through Wits University.

In 1965, as a new graduate, he left South Africa for London. In 1967 he and his wife, the former Ruth Jaffe, a physiotherapy graduate from Pretoria, and their son relocated to Israel where his second son was born. In Israel he was instrumental in building an excellent Prosthodontic Department at Tel Aviv University. He became Head of the Department and will be remembered as an outstanding Academic, Teacher and Mentor to all the students. He was at one time Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at Tel Aviv University. He will also be remembered for establishing a Dental clinic for Special needs children.

After Ruth passed away he married Lili. Their children and grandchildren continue to live in Israel.

Source: Prof Russel Lurie (Wits 1965)

Yvonne Blake (1926 - 2019)

Dr Yvonne Blake was the psychotherapist’s therapist for many decades in Johannesburg. As such she had an extraordinary influence on psychoanalytic psychotherapy. She set the tone for an object relations perspective for the professional development of aspiring psychotherapists.

Following matriculation at age 16, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science at University of the Free State in 1945. She then worked therapeutically in a supervisory capacity with young children at the Play Centre Department of the Johannesburg City Council. In 1949 she obtained her B. A. Honours in Psychology at University of Witwatersrand. That year she undertook a 3 year Child Psychotherapy training at the renowned Tavistock Clinic in London, which she completed in 1952 . In 1953 she returned to South Africa where she immediately became influential, offering a keen awareness of child emotional development especially in the sphere of separation anxiety. In London she was a protégé of psychoanalyst/paediatrician Donald Winncott and John Bowlby at the Tavistock.

Drawing on her Tavistock training in infant Observation, she earned her PhD in Psychology at the University of Witwatersrand in 1958. 

Her psychotherapeutic approach was a blend of Winnicott and Klein together with her essence as a salt of the earth, South African. Having established a successful private practice in Johannesburg city centre and then Hyde Park, after many years, she moved her practice to the farm in Broederstroom, where she resided. Many of her devoted patients and therapists she mentored, continued their work with her. This involved attentive driving on an unpaved pot holed road to reach her consulting room on the farm. She used to joke that she did not need to administer the Rorshach test that people’s reaction to the undulating red dusty road was in itself diagnostic! 

Once one reached her milieu, chickens, ostriches and peacocks could be seen casually strolling around. 

One of our fond memories is of a peacock nonchalantly displaying his splendid colourful plumes while perched outside the wide window behind her, framing her face like a radiant crown. 

Several years later she retired together with her husband, Oswald, to the family farm in Carolina in Mpumalanga. 

She always had a twinkle in her expressive eyes, a delightful sense of humour, remarkable recall of and observation of exquisite detail, incredible insight and heartfelt compassion. In her clinical work she would occasionally share an anecdote from her own personal life that was relevant to understanding one’s own situation. This was done in a careful thoughtful way. She was matter of fact about her clinical acumen and expertise, and was understated about her pioneering accomplishments. Many regretted that she did not publish more widely. A paper “Psychotherapy with the More Disturbed Patient” British Journal of Medical Psychology 41 (2),1968,199 was cited by Donald Winnicott in Playing and Reality and by Harry Guntrip in Psychoanalytic Theory, Therapy and the Self”

Her impact will long endure as she was a positive strong internalized authentic figure for those fortunate to work with her. 

She died peacefully at 93 years. She is survived by her sons Edwin and John and their families, including 3 grandchildren. 

Source: Psychologists Diane Wulfsohn in collaboration with Stephen Bloch

Traver Francis Hugh Legge (1942 - 2019)

Traver Francis Hugh Legge (1947-2019), or better known as Prof Francis Legge, was a significant advocate for the Civil Engineering profession.

Matriculating from St John’s College, Houghton, South Africa, he went to Wits University to study Physics. Soon after realising that this wasn’t for him, he decided to study Civil Engineering instead (following in his father’s footsteps). He graduated, in 1970, and then went on to work at Watermeyer, Legge, Pielsold and Uhlmann (WLPU) in the Braamfontein office. He was then transferred to the Cape Town Office, where he went on to spend a year in Picketburg working onsite building a private road for the government to a military base. After marrying Helen in 1972, they moved to London, so Francis could complete a Master’s degree, cum laude, in Geotechnical engineering at Imperial College, an area which had always fascinated him. After graduating, he worked for Golder Associates in North Wales, working on the Dinorwg Pump Storage Scheme. While in Wales, they had their first daughter Angela. After moving to Maidenhead, in the UK, with Golder's, he soon left and returned to WLPU in their Ashford office, in Kent. While in Ashford, Helen and Francis, had their second daughter, Janet. While working for WLPU in the UK, Francis travelled extensively, but primarily to the Far East, returning with many exciting and interesting stories of his time over there, as well as amazing gifts for his family. In 1983 he was instrumental in the building of the Bobbijaans Bridge, on the N2, in the Western Cape. In 1987, Francis and Helen decided to return to South Africa for a few years to spend time with family, although this decision would mean that Francis lived in South Africa for the rest of his life. Upon his return, Francis started his own consulting business and travelled for a while longer, with one of the most memorable and scary ones being when he was caught in the coup in Manila in 1989 - the most serious coup d'etat against the government of Philippine President Corazon Aquino. Thankfully, he returned home safely and shortly after in 1990, was approached by his very good friend Tony Brink to lecture at the then Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), which later changed to the University of Johannesburg (UJ). He took up this position of Associate Professor with relish and for the next 20 years lectured Geotechnical engineering at RAU/UJ. From that moment on, he became well known and loved by all as “Prof”. He loved his time teaching students, taking them on excursions and sharing his knowledge. In 2012, Prof finally retired from UJ and moved down to Plettenberg Bay (Plett), a place very special to his heart, that he had visited from the age of 12. While retired, Francis spent a lot of time working with SAICE, Rotary, supporting the local school in Plettenberg Bay and was a significant part of the local community in Plett and the wider Civil Engineering community. He had a great passion for learning, sharing his knowledge, education, and encouraging those from disadvantaged backgrounds. He also had a passion for South Africa and everything the beautiful country had to offer.  Sadly, on the 19 August 2019, Francis left us, but his passion for all things engineering and South African, will live on with his family, friends and colleagues and the many students lives he touched.

Stanley D Kaplan (1926 – 2019)

Stanley David Kaplan M.Sc Civ. Eng. Born 1926. Died 18th November 2019, in Chicago, USA.

A consulting civil engineer, Stanley D. Kaplan worked primarily in the UK, Southern Africa, Israel and the USA. He was the founding partner of Stanley Kaplan, Bahr & Jacobs Consulting Engineers who pioneered the use of pre-stressed concrete in South Africa. Some of the notable buildings in South Africa he was involved in constructing, were the Central News agency (CNA) building, the Johannesburg Civic Center, Whitbread Brewery, Waterford School and numerous bridges and apartment buildings.

Stanley D. Kaplan was a Past President of the South African Association of Consulting Engineers and a member of the Agrément Board of the National Building Research Institute. He was active in redesigning the code of practice for reinforced concrete, as well as instrumental in formulating new standards for contracts and other engineering documents. He was the author of many influential professional papers, participating and presenting papers at numerous conferences and was the organizer of a World Conference on Development.

The subject of Stanley D. Kaplan's Master’s Thesis was "Reducing the Risk of Construction Failures", a topic to which he was wholeheartedly committed throughout his professional life. As a senior lecturer in the Building Science Department at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa,

Stanley D. Kaplan was influential in imparting a general systems methodology approach to preventing building failures, to architectural and engineering students.

Having volunteered to serve in the Israeli army in the War of Liberation in 1948, in an engineering field unit, Stanley had a lifelong deep connection to Israel. 

Arriving with his young family in Israel in 1967 just before the Six Day War, he spent a year working and living in Haifa. In 1979 Stanley D. Kaplan and his wife emigrated to Israel and he worked for the Municipality of Herzlia on Urban Renewal projects, as well as editing the development journal for the International Technical Cooperation Center (ITCC) for the Architectural and Engineering Institute of Israel.

From 1988, working in San Francisco, California as a Risk Management Consultant, Stanley D. Kaplan further developed his multidisciplinary methodology to prevent, reduce and analyse failures in building construction. He was also the Editor of a new professional journal for the American Design and Construction Quality Institute, and instrumental in introducing Total Quality Management (TQM) in the construction industry.

Stanley D. Kaplan is survived by his wife Bluma, three daughters, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Kevin Richard Cron (1956 – 2019)

Internationally esteemed lawyer Kevin Richard Cron (BCom 1978; LLB 1980; LLM 1985) passed away in August 2019 after a relatively short battle with cancer. He left an exceptional legacy of legal excellence, professionalism and mentorship, as well as being a family man with a love of reading, travel, and wildlife.

Kevin was born in Vereeniging, Gauteng, but soon moved to Benoni, where he spent his childhood and later attended Benoni High School, matriculating in 1973. Kevin read for the degrees of Bachelor of Commerce (1978), Bachelor of Laws (1980) and Master of Laws (1985) at the University of the Witwatersrand. He participated in debating competitions during his LLB, exhibiting his sharp mind, wit and oratory accomplishment, for which he became well known.

In 1980, Kevin started his professional training, doing articles with the law firm Deneys Reitz Ridsdale and Guinsberg, and married Barbara (Hirschfeld) the following year. He remained with the same firm, now Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc., until his untimely death. As the recipient of a scholarship from the Anglovaal Group of Companies, it was natural that Kevin would start his career in the field of Mining Law under the guidance of Morris Kaplan, the leading author and practitioner in that field.

As circumstances in South Africa changed, Kevin broadened his practice into the field of corporate and commercial law working with Peter Simkins and others in the firm, building expertise in banking and finance, mergers and acquisitions and international finance.  For 25 years Kevin was consistently rated in the top tier of practitioners in these fields and was the lead lawyer in many of the notable commercial and banking transactions in South Africa. In 2005 he advised Barclays on its acquisition of a majority stake in Absa and 11 years later in its disposal of such majority stake. In 2006 he advised on the creation of Exxaro and in 2017 its replacement empowerment transaction. In 2007 he advised Alexander Forbes on its delisting from the JSE and its subsequent restructure. In 2008 he advised Exxaro on the US$3.4 billion combination of its Mineral Sands Operations with the businesses of titanium dioxide giant Tronox. 

More recently, in 2016, Kevin advised on the disposal of TekkieTown to Pepkor. In 2017, he advised Absa on the acquisition of the store card book of Edcon in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho, in a deal valued in excess of ZAR10 billion. Kevin also, in 2017, advised Goldman Sachs as underwriter in relation to its underwriting of a rights offer by African Bank Investments Limited in an amount of ZAR4 billion.

Kevin was ranked in the top tier by all international and local rating agencies. Each year his clients recorded his “virtually unrivalled reputation and the respect he enjoyed amongst commercial lawyers and clients”.  He was described as “an indispensable person for big ticket items”.

Despite his extensive practice commitments, Kevin participated actively in the management of the firm and was known for his accessibility to all lawyers across the firm. He mentored many young lawyers over his career of 39 years. He assumed the role of Chairman and acted in that capacity until he became ill. His colleagues remember him as humble despite his brilliance, and calm and decisive in his professional life. He is sadly missed by family, friends and colleagues. In addition to his wife Barbara, Kevin leaves his son Dylan, daughter Erin, daughter-in-law Pooja, and sister Glynis.

Source: Mike Hart and Georg Kahle, Norton Rose Fulbright; Glynis Goodman-Cron, School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, Wits.

Dr Elliot Chesler (1932 – 2019)

Chesler, Elliot, M.D. (Rand.) F.R.C.P. (Edin.) F.A.C.C. Age 87, Born February 16, 1932, in Johannes- burg, Republic of South Africa. Died June 19, 2019, San Antonio, Texas, United States of America. Dr. Chesler earned his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in Johannesburg, followed by a residency at the Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. He became the youngest South African physician to qualify as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and later the American College of Cardiology. In 1967 Dr. Chesler completed a year of post-doctoral work in Minneapolis, Minnesota under Dr. Jesse Edwards, an internationally recognized authority in the emerging field of cardiac pathology. Upon returning to South Africa, Dr Chesler joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town Medical School and the Department of Cardiology at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, where Professor Christiaan Barnard had performed the first successful human heart transplant just a few months before. After five years at Groote Schuur, Dr. Chesler became Chief of Cardiology and Professor Medicine at the University of Natal. In 1977 Dr Chesler emigrated with his family to the United States and returned to Minneapolis, where he served for 22 years as Chief of the Cardiovascular Division of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Over the course of his career, Dr. Chesler co-authored over 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals, published Clinical Cardiology in the Elderly, and edited the fourth and fifth editions of Clinical Cardiology, originally published by his friend and mentor Dr. Velva Schrire, founder of the Cardiac Clinic of Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town. Dr. Chesler held a particular fondness for the veterans he served at the VA, to whom he dedicated Clinical Cardiology in the Elderly with the quote:" To the veterans we serve, who served us so well." He could often be found at the bedside of the veterans under his care in the cardiac clinic, joking with them and enjoying their memories of wartime experiences from World War II though Vietnam. Of his time at the VA, his longtime friend and colleague Dr. Edward Weir said: "His knowledge and experience were greatly appreciated at the VA. Through all those he taught, his scientific lineage continues, and will continue as long as his "cardiological" children and grandchildren practice medicine. One innovation that he made, which continues to be extremely valuable, was to hire a number of Nurse Specialists - super-RNs who are very experienced and provide excellent care to the patients and teaching to the medical students. By being a superbly competent "chief", he allowed the rest of us to avoid much administration and to get on with our research and teaching." Dr Chesler retired from full time practice in 2004 when he moved to San Antonio, Texas to be closer to his grandchildren, alternately serving as chauffeur, consigliere, and co-conspirator. After moving to San Antonio, Dr Chesler regularly attended adult learning classes on literature, read voraciously, and cultivated interests in outdoor grilling and gardening. He travelled extensively to gardens all over the world with his wife of blessed Memory Dr. Rosalind T. Chesler. Elliot is survived by his son, Alan Chesler and his wife Laura Ehrenberg Chesler; and grandsons, Marton Simon Chesler and Isaac Bernard Chesler of San Antonio; his son, Louis Chesler M.D., Ph.D. and his wife Heather; and granddaugh- ters, Sophie Rose Chesler and Hannah Mae Chesler of London, England and relatives in South Africa, Australia, Israel, Norway, the United States and Canada. In Lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the San Antonio Botannical Gardens or the Jewish National Fund. Dr. Chesler was buried at the Congregation Rodfei Sholom Cemetery on June 21, 2019.

Hugh Paterson (1926 – 2019)

Hugh Paterson obtained his BSc in 1949 and a 1st class BSc Honours degree at the University of the Witwatersrand (1951) and spent a year in Oxford as a British Council Scholar while employed by the South African Institute of Medical Research (1952-1963) and as a consultant by WHO (1961 and 1962) before taking up a lectureship in 1963 at the University College of Rhodesia. He completed his PhD (“Evolutionary and Population Genetical Studies of Certain Diptera”) under the supervision of Professer B.I. Balinsky at Wits. In the same year, 1967, he took a senior lectureship at the University of Western Australia before returning to Wits in 1975, as Professor and Chair in the Department of Zoology. Hugh returned to Australia in 1985 as Professor of Entomology at the University of Queensland.

Hugh was a singular figure among evolutionary biologists and academics. His formality and attachment to traditional ceremony (as in graduations) could not long hide is iconoclastic mind, and this made him a rebel to large swathes of the establishment. Students, though, loved this – after all, they had come to a university! He encouraged students, indeed everyone, to think freely.

And this is where we confront Hugh’s singularity. Hugh was more thoughtful than anyone I have known. His thought was as deep and logically consistent as it was broad. Coupled with his intense belief in the “sanctity” of truth, this yielded an intense focus on ideas not seen too widely, and meant trouble for tradition. Nevertheless, Hugh was sympathetic to the notion that sometimes there was more than one truth in human affairs, that truth could be complicated.

At the University of the Witwatersrand (where I first worked with Hugh) he was asked to organise a themed conference for the “Senate Special Lectures” series. His response, after much thought and in the darkest days of Apartheid South Africa, was “Truth Telling, A Dangerous Duty”, a matter of grave concern to the society that sustained the education sector, but little appreciated by that society. Speakers were carefully selected and included such prominent figures as Sydney Kentridge KCMG, QC and Terence Ranger FBA.

Truth and fairness characterised Hugh. Whilst Head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Queensland, the hierarchy approached him to adjudicate in particularly fraught appeals involving student assessments. What he found out, and reported, was not widely popular apparently, but it was evidently accurate and fair (and accuracy and fairness take time and nerve, but Hugh saw that as Duty).

Hugh’s development of the Recognition Concept of species came from his deep appreciation of organisms in nature. As a schoolboy, he roamed the forests and grasslands around Illovo Beach in KwaZulu-Natal, where he grew up, and knew the fauna and flora intimately, birds especially. His joy at having found that Spectacled Weavers (birds that inhabit thick bush and forest, unlike most others in the genus) produced two types of nests, and that these correlated with egg colour and vegetation type, remained with him. (And, incidentally, I believe this puzzle has not yet been resolved.) He noticed, too, of course the unusual qualities of the sounds produced by these forest birds relative to those of congenerics living in more open vegetation. I know he really loved the unfolding research developments in bird vocalisation and the correlation of their physical properties with vegetation structure.

The Recognition Concept of species is appealing because the premises of the concept relate directly to the sexual reproduction of organisms in their usual environment. It deals with what organisms actually do in nature, and with the evolved function in what they do. To me as a PhD student (when I had not yet met Hugh) this rather obvious relationship of biological interpretation to subject matter was stunning! But others did not see things this way, and Hugh’s writing attracted some extremely irate and condescending commentary (of itself surely a good sign that he was on the right track). Sadly, this did affect Hugh quite badly at times, despite the deep respect his advances attracted from some core evolutionary biologists – Hamp Carson and Niles Eldredge come to mind. Beware ideologies and ideologists – I can hear Hugh now.

Hugh was strict with ideas and interpretations – he would, I think, have seen this as the very ‘soul’ of science. Some saw arrogance in this, and maybe so, but what is correct? Where is the truth? We live, now, under a regimen of managerial “efficiency”. Time for deep reflection is a rare luxury. I can see Hugh sitting quietly in his office, looking ahead, thinking profoundly about evolutionary biology and its foundational links to all other subdisciplines in biology, connections he knew well, all in a revolutionary spirit in which the only efficiency is getting it correct and telling it truthfully. Hugh is missed, sorely missed, as an individual and as an icon of what we should all be, and what the world could be. Anyone who knew Hugh would remember the quiet, understated and sustaining support, through 62 years of marriage, provided by Shirley, whose intellect matched that of Hugh’s very closely. Hugh is survived by his daughter, Ann, and son Michael.

Stanley Victor (1929-2019)

Stanley Victor (BArch 1952) worked as an architect in Johannesburg for 55 years. He was a founding member and partner in Christelis Stanley Victor Architects, with fellow Wits graduate Dimitri Christelis.

As well as erecting many beautiful buildings and changing the fabric of both Johannesburg and Germiston, Christelis Stanley Victor Architects were committed to mentoring and supporting Wits architectural students in their offices. In any gathering of architects, one is certain to find a few who did their time in the Rosebank office who will share fond memories of their experiences there.

The firm’s buildings were always cutting edge – Victor had a fascination with modern technology and computers, and he made it his business to stay abreast of the latest trends in architecture.

The buildings were richly textured, with cast concrete panels, decorations scratched into plaster and all sorts of gymnastics with face bricks. Some were a result of collaboration with artists. They also used many natural materials and blended seamlessly with the landscape.

Victor was the first member of his extended family to earn a university degree. Education was of paramount importance to him and his wife Barbara (Marks), who graduated from Wits as a physiotherapist. They ensured that all their children had at least a primary degree from Wits, and the family’s many degrees span all five faculties.

Victor was almost 91 years old when he passed away on 14 December 2019. He is survived by Barbara, his sons Graeme and Trevor, his daughters Marian and Andrea, and their families. 

Michael Scholes (1944-2019)

Michael Kenneth Scholes (BArch 1970) was born in Durban and received his high schooling at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg. In 1962 he started to study civil engineering at Wits but abandoned it after 18 months and joined Rhodes-Harrison Hoffe and Partners as a draughtsman. Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, he switched to studying architecture in 1965. He proved to be a gifted student and won several prizes.

Scholes graduated in 1970 and lectured at Wits before entering private practice. He was experienced in domestic scale design commissions, for which he received several awards. His interest in local historical and vernacular buildings and pre-19th century European architecture manifested in work that responds to this heritage, the urban context, and the natural environment of the region.

Source: Prof Paul Kotze

Cecily Sash (1925-2019)

Renowned artist and teacher Cecily Sash (BA Fine Arts 1954, MA Fine Arts 1973) died at the age of 94 in September last year.

She lectured for nearly 20 years in the fine art department of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and, according to the art historian Esmé Berman, “few South African artists of her generation exercised more influence”.

In the 1970s Sash settled in Britain, feeling threatened by the apartheid regime. She lived for the rest of her life in the Welsh Marches.

Daughter of Bessie (née Liverman) and Max Sash, she was born in Delmas in the Transvaal. Her father was a doctor, but at an early age Sash showed a prodigious talent for art. She studied under Maurice van Essche at the Witwatersrand Art School, and then, in London in the late 1940s, at Chelsea Polytechnic under Henry Moore, and Camberwell School of Art with Victor Pasmore.

While teaching at Jeppe Girls’ High School in Johannesburg, she began to arouse the interest of educationists and received commissions for mural designs at sites such as the Transvaal provincial administration building in Pretoria, the University of the Witwatersrand, and the Transvaal Institute of Architects.

Her styles were initially decorative and representational, in mosaic, paint or tapestry, but she began to put more emphasis on semi-abstract qualities.

In the 1960s, Sash was a founder member of the Amadlozi Group, an influential group of artists including Cecil Skotnes, Guiseppe Cattaneo, Sydney Kumalo and Edoardo Villa, brought together by art dealer and printmaker Egon Guenther, mostly for exhibition purposes.

The group’s main concern was a quest for a modern SA artistic identity connected with the spirit of Africa. Amadlozi means “spirit of our ancestors”. The group is perhaps best known for the ways in which its members negotiated the international influences of modernism and even reacted to international movements such as Pop Art by searching instead for some kind of local identity and pursuing regional concerns.

Her teaching style was vibrant and dynamic, and was based on the methodology and discipline of basic design as taught at the Bauhaus. She enabled many people to achieve much more in the field of art and design than they had ever imagined, never accepting that one couldn’t draw, and her lifelong commitment to art was an inspiration to her students.

She is survived by her brother, Leonard, and her nephew, David.

Source: Business Day and The Guardian

Ann Andrew (1929-2019)

Emeritus Professor Ann Andrew passed away quietly on 14 August 2019. She died as she had lived, without ceremony or fuss. Ann was an internationally recognised researcher and was regarded as a leading figure in the field of experimental embryology.

Although one’s life is not defined by one’s academic achievements, Ann’s academic record was most certainly exemplary. She obtained a BSc (1948), a BSc Honours (1953), a MSc (1956) and a PhD (1963) all from the University of the Witwatersrand and while based in the Department of Zoology. In 1982 Ann submitted a collection of research papers for, and was awarded a DSc, the senior Doctorate of the University.Emeritus Professor

Among the awards and grants which Ann achieved was the prestigious South African Academy of Science and Arts Junior Captain Scott Memorial Medal for an exemplary Master’s dissertation (1960).

Although trained in Zoology and having worked in the Zoology Department at the University of the Witwatersrand, in 1953 Ann transferred to the Wits Faculty of Medicine where she was appointed as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Anatomy. In 1954, she was appointed to an academic post at the level of lecturer but easily climbed the academic ladder to appointment as Associate Professor by 1969. The Department of Anatomy was based in the old Medical School on Hospital Hill. Professor Phillip Tobias was Head of the Department at that time and from 1959 Ann worked under his guidance as Supervisor of the Micro-Anatomy section of the Department until her retirement in 1989. Ann’s exceptional work and skills were recognised by the Faculty of Medicine in 1979 when she was promoted to the position of Ad Hominem Professor of Experimental Embryology. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa from 1989.

Her intense interest in experimental embryology, particularly in relation to the neural crest and gastro-intestinal and pancreatic endocrine cells led to Professor being appointed as Leader of a Wits research entity known as the ”Experimental Embryology Research Group” (1979 – 1992).

Early in the 1960s, Ann had disagreed with a proposal that all APUD (Amine Precursor Uptake and Decarboxylation) cells were neural crest in origin. Together with her collaborators, Professors Bengy Rawdon, Bev Kramer and others, she set about disproving this hypothesis. Ann’s work was meticulous and the team worked hard at carrying out a variety of finely tuned, intricately planned experiments to disprove the hypothesis ….... and they did. While it took a substantial amount of time (almost 20 years), the “APUD Ghost” was laid to rest. It was a feather in Ann’s cap when the originator of the hypothesis finally acknowledged the outcomes of her work!

While Ann officially retired in 1989 as an Emeritus Professor, her love of research kept her in the Department of Anatomy as an Honorary Research Professorial Fellow until 1996. In 1995, a Festchrift was published in her honour. The chapters in the Festchrift “Embryos, Endocrine cells and the Neural Crest” edited by B Kramer and B Rawdon, were contributed by numerous international and local collaborators and friends. They are testimony to Ann’s quest for scientific truth through embryological exactness.

Ann was not only an expert histologist, immunocytochemist, and a superb experimental embryologist, but she was also an inspiring teacher. A model to explain the complicated rotation of the gastro-intestinal tract in the human embryo and foetus to students which Ann designed and published in 1961, is still in use over 50 years later. Etched in my memory is the research training she provided in fine motor skills, careful analysis and ethical behaviour. These skills, which were innate to Ann, were passively induced into those she taught and were part of the excellence that defined the nature of the training which we received from her. In addition, in honour of Ann’s exceptional contributions to teaching and research in micro-anatomy and embryology, the micro-anatomy laboratory in the Department was named the Ann Andrew Histology Laboratory.

Ann lived a wonderfully full life. Her love of the outdoors, of hiking and of travelling were well known. She played tennis, squash, league hockey, sang in both the St Columba’s church choir and the National Symphony choir and loved gardening - all this while she was supervising the micro-anatomy staff and students, busily correcting her PhD students’ theses and writing over 50 articles.

Ann provided the University of the Witwatersrand with outstanding service for more than 45 years, establishing skills and research integrity among her students which will be carried on to future generations of academics.

She is survived by her brother Dr William (Bill) Andrew, a Wits trained medical practitioner, her sister-in-law Greta and their family.

Tribute by: Emeritus Professor Beverley Kramer

James Peter Byrne (1928 – 2019)

Dr James Peter died suddenly on 23 April some 12 hours after having surgery for a fractured femur sustained in a fall, a month before his 91st birthday. He was the elder of two boys born to Phyllis Clement and James Thomas Byrne from Benoni.

Dr Byrne went to school in Benoni and obtained his degree in medicine from Wits in 1952. He put himself through medical school by holding down jobs such as driving new vehicles in convoy from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, ramp modelling, and working as an orderly in the Boksburg-Benoni Hospital.

During his internship at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, he returned to the East Rand in 1953 where he married his childhood sweetheart, Beryl Eleanor O’Callaghan, and they both returned to Pietermaritzburg. Dr Byrne was one of the first intake of doctors at the newly opened Edendale Hospital outside Pietermaritzburg, where he stayed on to do an extra year. He completed his Diploma in Obstetrics in 1958. He settled into general practice, initially in Benoni, and then in Kempton Park where he spent the rest of his working life. Thirty-three of these years were in partnership with Dr Willie Trichaardt, one of his closest friends. When he retired, the consulting rooms were demolished to make way for part of the Arwyp Hospital. Even then, his love of medicine had him working as a permanent locum in another practice in the town until the age of 86 when he reluctantly retired properly due to advancing age and ill health.

Before the Jan Smuts Airport became the OR Tambo International Airport, Dr Byrne was the doctor in charge of emergency care for the airport for many years and many was the occasion that he would rush from consulting to the airport for emergency landings or passengers in medical distress. Since he was a young boy he was a member of the South African Red Cross Society and over the years worked his way up the chain of command, eventually becoming the Commander-in-Chief of South Africa & South West Africa (now Namibia).

In 1985, Dr Byrne received the Kempton Park Rotary Community Service Award. Sir Pierre van Ryneveld High School acknowledged his dedication and invaluable service to education in the town with a citation and they named a committee room in his honour. In 2009, he was thrilled when he received the award from Wits for outstanding contribution of service to the community.

He loved travelling, and his annual holidays would be spent with his wife Beryl, discovering another part of the world, or enjoying the quiet of the Kruger National Park.

On the sporting front, he was an excellent tennis player in his youth, progressing onto badminton and then golf, when time allowed. Once he had retired, he enjoyed community bowls for a while.

He was survived by his wife Beryl — who died three months after him, two daughters — his daughter Diane having pre-deceased him, six grandchildren and two great-grand-children.

He was a man of integrity, a mentor to many, dedicated, humble and loving and is sorely missed.

Source: Claire Wilkinson (BSc 1976, PDipEd 1976) 



Obituaries 2018 cntd

Pamela Shrock (1936-2018)

Dr Pamela Shrock, nee Shubitz, passed away on 28 March 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the age of 81.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she was a long time resident of Roslyn Harbor, New York and Evanston, Illinois. A lifelong learner and educator, she graduated from the University of Witwatersrand (BSc Physiotherapy 1957), the University of Illinois and Northwestern University (Phd). She was a pioneer in women's health issues and became one of the first Lamaze teachers in the US. She was also an international teacher trainer for the organisation, specialising her practices in childbirth, birth education and humane obstetrical practices, psychological issues of women and families, marital and sexual therapy. A frequent world-wide conference speaker, lecturer and author.

Dr Shrock was the beloved wife of Peter Shrock. Loving mother of Aviva (Lou) Pinto, Kevin (Natalie) Shrock, Darryl (Pam) Shrock. Proud grandmother of Lauriane, Elana, Alexandra, Harrison, Caroline, Jonah, Benjamin and Sophie. Fond sister of Linda (the late Richard) Becker, and brother, the late Basil Shubitz. Cherished cousin, aunt and great-aunt of many.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Heather McRae Simpson (1958- 2018)

Heather Simpson (BA 1980) died on Saturday 15 September 2018. She had been seriously ill for a long time but her death was still a shock. This is what she meant to me.

Heather was my big sister but I used to call her 'Small'. When we were young and living with my mom and dad in South Africa I had many nicknames for Heather. For some inexplicable reason I spent years calling her 'Wilson'. Heather didn't mind because she knew that I revered her. 'Small' was the nickname that lasted the longest. She might have been just five foot two tall but Heather had huge intelligence, enormous compassion and a mighty drive to do her best. Image: Donald McRae

I had nicknames for everyone in my family. My dad put up with me calling him Hamlet for years while I tagged my mom “The Little Wall” because I used to bounce a tennis ball off her head while chatting to her and Heather. I remember Ross, Heather's beloved husband, first visiting our house in Germiston. I was 17 and Heather and Ross were both 20. Ross would tell me in later years that he was bewildered when he saw me bouncing a ball off my very calm mother’s head while I asked Heather if she could help me with an English essay. Of course Heather always did.

All these years later, and still just finding a way to accept that Heather is no longer here, I can see even more clearly how my sister helped me be myself.

At first, when we were both small, Heather simply looked after me. She allowed me to tag along with her and the older kids and whenever I got tired or frightened Heather made sure I soon felt better. She also spent hours on the tennis court with me. Even though I cried when she kept beating me, she always told me that, one day, I would find a way to win. Heather was much better than me but she gave me belief that I would also do well if I kept working and trying. She was a teacher even then.

Heather taught me how to body surf and so, alongside my dad, and my mom on her boogie board, we had amazing family holidays every December in Port Elizabeth or East London. I would be shocked when we were dumped by a huge wave but then I would see Heather. She would surface from the roaring waters and call out to me. Another monster wave was on its way. We should try to catch it and surf it properly. We usually did.

When we were teenagers, Heather loved books and music and she opened up these worlds to me in a way that changed my life forever. Heather seemed impossibly cool to me. She was listening to David Bowie and reading Simone de Beauvoir when she 16. I was 13 and I was amazed by everything she told me. David Bowie was a man but he wore make-up and called himself the Thin White Duke. Simone de Beauvoir was a feminist. These were concepts that went straight over my head in suburban white South Africa. But Heather took time to explain what they meant. She played me all her favourite records, until they became my favourites too, and she spoke to me about the books she loved.

She was a magnificent singer. Heather was so talented that her singing teacher believed she would become a great opera singer. She wanted Heather to leave Germiston for Vienna to study opera. Heather was that good but it was also a step too soon. She was very young and so she chose a different path.

Heather went to university to take a Bachelor of Arts degree – specialising in English Literature. She went on to do her honours and Masters in English and I remember being mildly stunned when I read her thesis on Jonathan Swift.

By then I knew I wanted to become a writer and Heather was the first person in whom I confided my secret ambition. It was a wild and crazy plan. I was going to leave Johannesburg and travel to London so that I could become a writer. My mother and father, who backed me and Heather every step of our lives, were obviously concerned. I knew no-one in London. But Heather bolstered me. Heather believed in me. Heather told me I could do it.

Heather, being such a compassionate person, developed a political consciousness. She was the first person to really make me think about apartheid and the cruelty of racism. When I decided I could not go into the army and do my national service, Heather saved me. The alternatives were limited. I didn’t want to go to jail for six years and I was heartbroken at the thought of leaving my parents and South Africa – seemingly forever. My mom and dad were incredibly understanding and supportive – but in the earliest days it was Heather who sustained me. It was Heather who drove me to the airport. I cried because I was leaving my mom and dad but Heather gave me the courage I needed.

Heather and Ross followed me later that year and, while we missed my parents terribly, we did our best in London. It was hard and lonely at first and you can guess who kept me going. Heather was such a huge presence in my life that I stopped calling her 'Small'. She was just Heather – the person I always turned to when I had doubts or worries.

Heather had many great personal and professional achievements in the UK. One of the first woman to trade in the City of London’s Financial Funding market, she worked successfully for a few years on deals that were worth hundreds of millions of pounds. But Heather didn’t like the city or share the same values as many of the traders she met. In 1992 she walked away from that lucrative career and devoted the rest of her life to animal welfare. She returned to university to begin a three-year post-graduate veterinary course alongside fully-qualified vets. Twenty-three vets and Heather started together and just three of them completed the course. Heather was one of them. She had just finished writing her subsequent PhD thesis when she succumbed to the final stages of her illness.

Yet her great passion, the Natural Animal Centre, which she ran in Wales with Ross, remains a place of learning today – and her legacy of enhancing animal welfare continues. 

Amid all this Heather still found time to help edit my first few books and, decades later, even when she was so ill, Heather would always want to hear about my next book. She has been there from the start and, now that she is gone, it feels hard. But I will draw on these memories of her and on the love my remarkable parents, Ian and Jess, still show to us today.

I will also never forget her courage and strength in withstanding such ill health for so long. The last time I saw Heather, two months ago, I spent a memorable afternoon with her. She was in a hospital bed but she was warm and animated, full of life and hope. I said goodbye to her, not knowing it would be the last time, and I felt amazed all over again by Heather. Memories of that afternoon, and all our years together, make me understand how lucky I was to have had her with me from the very start.

I might once have called her Small but my big sister Heather has always been, and will always remain, a giant to me.

Source: Donald McRae, 2018

Obituaries 2018

Claire Penn (1951-2018)

Professor Emeritus Claire Penn (BA Sp&HTh 1973, PhD 1983) passed away in July after a long illness. She had dedicated much of her life to the University, having worked at Wits for 44 years.

Born in Kenya, where her family lived until she was 12, she matriculated from Springs High School and then qualified in logopaedics (speech and hearing therapy) cum laude at Wits.

Prof Penn held the endowed chair of Speech Pathology and Audiology and was Director of the Health Communication Research Unit in the School of Human and Community Development at the University. She was the first A-rated scientist in the Humanities Faculty at Wits. She had a strong international profile in her field, publishing over 100 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 25 chapters and four books (including an extensive dictionary of Southern African Signs).

She was instrumental in the development of health communication in South Africa. Ahead of her time in many ways, she taught contextually relevant ways of doing therapy and research, and pushed the boundaries of her primary discipline of speech pathology. She was a fierce defender of ethical principles and patient rights, especially those marginalised by communication disorders and language barriers. She taught her students to be advocates and activists, not just therapists, and she cared deeply about student causes.

Penn’s awards included the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) in 2007 for her “excellent contribution to the field of speech and language pathology, especially in the area of linguistics, sign language, child language, aphasia and head injury”. She was also recognised as a Department of Science and Technology Distinguished Woman Scientist in 2010. 

She will be remembered as an outstanding teacher, supervisor, researcher and mentor. Many of her students went on to become leaders in research and clinical practice. But she also advised students to “get a life”; to find meaning beyond their career.

Described as punctual, driven, messy and “incapable of following instructions”, she loved travel, hiking and nature.

“Life with Claire was interesting. Delightful; challenging; often maddening and frustrating. But never, ever dull,” said her partner Martin Templer.

“She was somebody who would rather ‘make’ a mountain, move it, then bundu-bash her way up to the top rather than go around a molehill,” said her son Adam Penn-Nicholson. “She never shied away.”

Sources: Jennifer Watermeyer, Martin Templer, Adam Penn-Nicholson


David Whiting (1931-2018)

Dr David Ashby Whiting (MBBCh 1953, PhD 1977), renowned dermatologist and expert in alopecia, died in Dallas, Texas in February, aged 86.

He was born in Johannesburg and came to Wits as a medical student at the age of 16. He thrived in the intellectually stimulating environment and also spent many happy hours on the squash court, representing Wits in competition.

After spending two years in the UK, he returned to South Africa to work in private practice. He studied for his Master’s degree under Professor George Findlay in Pretoria before submitting a collection of original research papers on dermatology for his Wits PhD.

David became Principal Dermatologist and Chair of the Section of Dermatology at the Johannesburg General Hospital and Wits from 1973 until his departure in 1977 to the USA. He became a Clinical Professor of Dermatology and Paediatrics at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas and also worked in private practice. In 1987 he became the Medical Director of Baylor Hair Research and Treatment Center in Dallas.

He loved to diagnose rare pathologies or disorders and was an active member of the medical and academic community well into his 80s, attending and presenting at conferences, editing, reviewing, and publishing scientific work.

He was married to Harriet for 45 years and they shared three children from his prior marriage and two from hers. David was generous, gregarious, witty, and quick with a pun. Jazz, dancing, theatre, classical music, fine wine, and bridge with close friends filled his free hours.

Source: Claire Bourne

Keith Kaye (1942-2018)

Just months before his death from cancer, Dr Keith Kaye (BSc 1964, BSc Hons 1965, MBBCh 1967) published the Wits MBBCh Class of 1967 50th anniversary yearbook. “I am proud and honoured to be associated with each and every one of you,” he wrote in the introduction.

“How grateful I am that he had the foresight, and found the enthusiasm and energy to complete that momentous task,” said Professor Gladwyn Leiman.

In the class yearbook, Dr Kaye wrote that he felt he’d been born lucky. At Wits, he specialised in urology under Professor van Blerk and then moved to the US in 1979. He published the first textbook on outpatient urologic surgery and developed an interest in prostate ultrasound, brachytherapy and prostate cancer. In 1993 he was invited to take up the new post of Professor of Urology at the University of Western Australia, where he established a prostate cancer centre. He later returned to the USA and retired to Florida and Minneapolis.

He and his wife Valda (Goldberg) (MBBCh 1972) travelled to Belize regularly as medical volunteers and enjoyed an active life. He was an adventurous traveller and enjoyed kayaking, water-skiing, sailing, running and driving his 1911 Model T. He also raised funds to restore the Jewish cemetery in Panevezys, Lithuania.

He died at home in Sarasota, Florida, leaving Valda and their three daughters.

Sources: Prof John Gear; Prof Gladwyn Leiman; Class of ’67 Yearbook

Oskar Steffen (1940-2018)

Oskar Steffen (BSc Eng 1961, MSc Eng 1963, PhD 1978) was born in Swaziland and arrived in Johannesburg in 1956 to study civil engineering at Wits. He spent the next seven years working for Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines in Zambia, initially in a geotechnical role and later in production. In 1969 he took up an appointment as Senior Lecturer in Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering at Wits, and remained at the University until late 1973, lecturing in soil mechanics and consulting for civil and mining clients.

In 1974, Andy Robertson (BSc Eng 1966, PhD 1977), Hendrik Kirsten (BSc Eng 1963, MSc Eng 1966, PhD 1986) and Steffen set up a consulting partnership, SRK, which over the years grew into a firm employing 1400 professionals in over 45 offices on six continents.

Steffen’s personal values and reputation had a big influence on the firm’s culture and brand. He believed that ownership opportunities for strong contributors were essential in securing their long-term commitment to the business. 

He served as President of the South African Institution of Mining and Metallurgy from 1989 to 1990 and was awarded the Brigadier Stokes Memorial Award in 1995 and the SAICE Geotechnical Gold Medal in 2001. He was also awarded the Mining Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 in recognition of his technical contribution to the international mining industry.

SRK recalls his strong interest in supporting and growing people, his belief that problem-solving approaches and technologies should continue to evolve, his commitment to his clients, and his sense of humour. He retired from SRK in 2005 but continued on a full-time basis as an associate. 

Dr Steffen is survived by Marge, his wife of 53 years; his daughters Helen, Linda and Heidi and their families; and his niece Ilse and nephew Oskar junior and their families.

Source: SRK

Sam Tucker (1927-2018)

Distinguished paediatrician Dr Sam Michael Tucker (MBBCh 1952) died in Mill Hill in the UK in June, at the age of 91. He saved many children from more serious impairment by developing a new hearing test for newborn babies, and was also a specialist in children’s heart conditions and attention deficit problems. Another of his legacies was a children’s charity in Russia, where he trained local doctors in paediatrics.

Sam Tucker was born in Benoni to Harry and Rae Tucker and educated at Benoni High School. After school he joined the Air Force and flew as a navigator in defence of the new state of Israel.

Moving on to study medicine at Wits, he met Fine Arts student and Rag queen Barbara Kaplan and they were married in 1953. Not long after that they left South Africa for the UK. He was appointed a consultant at Hillingdon Hospital in 1965 and had a private practice in Harley Street.

He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London and in Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and served as Senior Treasurer of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Known for his rapport with children, he worked a seven-day week and had 20 000 private patients on his files. On Christmas Day he would be in the hospital, entertaining the children.

His own recreation was football: he represented South Africa in the Maccabi Games and was a long-time Chelsea FC supporter.

He leaves his wife Barbara; their children Dana (Cukier), Mark and Trevor; nine grandchildren; a great-grandson; and his brother Percy (BCom 1950), the founder of Computicket.

Source: Tucker family

Stanley Glasser (1926-2018)

The composer Stanley “Spike” Glasser (BCom 1950) died in August after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years.

He had been in exile since 1963, when he left South Africa under threat of arrest. Glasser was the elder son of immigrants to South Africa from Lithuania. He majored in economics at Wits, where he also dabbled in composition – and played rugby.

In 1950 he left for England, where he read music at Cambridge from 1955 to 1958. The next year he returned to South Africa and lectured in music at UCT, but had to leave after he and the singer Maud Damons had been charged under the Immorality Act.  

Glasser wrote dramatic works, orchestral music and a substantial body of vocal music, as well as chamber and solo instrumental music. Not forgetting an advertising jingle for Lucky Star pilchards!

He was an early exponent of infusing Western compositions with African music, the knowledge of which he cultivated in the ethnomusicological study of the Pedi and Xhosa peoples. His important field research is now held in the British Library.

Unusually for South African white academic composers of the time, he was also at home in writing popular music. His works include a full-length musical, Mr Paljas, and famously, arrangements for Todd Matshikiza’s King Kong (1959), for which he was music director.

Glasser also composed tonally based, neo-classical works for acoustic instruments. He was an eager collaborative artist, and eschewed the restrictions of the apartheid colour bar when he composed the first full-length South African ballet, The Square. His incidental music to Eugene O’Neill’s play Emperor Jones makes him South Africa’s first electronic music composer.

Source: Stephanus Muller, The Conversation

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (1936-2018)

No other woman occupies the place that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela does in South African politics. A stalwart of the African National Congress (ANC), she nevertheless stands above, and at times outside, the party. Her iconic status transcends political parties and geographical boundaries, generations and genders.

Her life was overburdened by tragedies and dramas, and by the expectations of a world hungry for godlike heroes on whom to pin all its dreams, and one-dimensional villains on whom to pour its rage. Yet perhaps it is in the smaller and more intimate stories of our stumbling to make a better world that we are best able to recognise and appreciate the meaning of the life of Madikizela-Mandela.

In her particular life, we may see more clearly the violence wrought by colonialism and apartheid, the profound consequences of fraternal political movements to whom women were primarily ornamental and, yes, the tragic mistakes made in the crucible of civil war.

Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela was born in a rural Eastern Cape village called Bizana in 1936. Her parents, Columbus Madikizela and Nomathamsanqa Mzaidume (Gertrude), were teachers and her childhood was marked by the stern Methodism of her mother and the radical Africanist orientation of her father.

Rural life, with its entrenched gender roles, shaped her childhood. It also made her aware of land dispossession as a central question of freedom. By her own account, she learnt about the racialised system of power early in her life.

She completed school in the Eastern Cape and in 1953 moved to Johannesburg to study at the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work.  Once qualified, she was employed at Baragwanath Hospital – the first qualified black social worker there.

Winnie Madikizela married Nelson Mandela in 1958. After six short years together, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. By this stage, she too was inextricably involved in the national liberation movement – more as an empathic leader than a theorist or tactician.

Her mode of work was not that of painstaking organisation-building; she was more capable as a public speaker and as someone who could connect with people in the harsh conditions of life in apartheid’s townships. She attended funerals and counselled families, acts of public courage that sustained activists. She offered a form of intimate political leadership, instinctively aligning herself with people in distress.

She was fearless in the face of the state’s attempts to silence her. Her home was repeatedly invaded and searched, and she was arrested, assaulted and imprisoned several times. Then, in 1977, in an act of extreme cruelty, she was served with a banishment order to Brandfort – a place she had never heard of.

But although the state did not break Winnie, by her own account it did brutalise her. Talking about her long period of solitary confinement and torture in 1969, she told a journalist that it “did actually change me … I then believed in the language of violence”.

This period in her life, and in South African politics generally, is one that will not only occupy our moral energies, but also shape the ways in which narratives of violence in the 1980s are written. These were dark times in a country weighed down by states of emergency and militarised control. The exaggerated quality of Madikizela-Mandela’s life had to bear, too, the nightmares of our nation’s struggles to free itself.

The ANC could barely contain the nature of leadership that Madikizela-Mandela represented. Stepping outside the official party line, as she frequently did, was a form of asserting her independence. It also allowed her to build alliances with the new voices emerging after 1994, from the Treatment Action Campaign to the Economic Freedom Fighters. It accounts for the tremendous affection for her among young activists who are equally wary of the sedimented power structures in politics.

To present her simply as wife, mostly as mother, is to erase the many struggles she waged to be defined in her own terms.

This obituary first appeared on The Conversation in a longer form.

  • Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela graduated from Wits with a BA in 2005.

Sources: Shireen Hassim, The Conversation; Vashna Jagarnath;


AnnMarie Wolpe (1930-2018)

AnnMarie Wolpe (Kantor) (BA Social Work 1951), an antiapartheid activist and pioneer in gender and education, died in Cape Town on 14 February 2018 at the age of 87. Born in Johannesburg, she met her husband, the late Harold Wolpe (BA 1950, LLB 1953), at Wits, where he was SRC President in 1951. Her first job was as an assistant to Helen Joseph in the Transvaal clothing industry medical aid society. She then ran a bursary fund for African students. In 1963 AnnMarie helped Harold (along with Arthur Goldreich, Mosie Moola and Abdulhai Jassat) to escape from police custody after he had been arrested at Liliesleaf farm. She too was later arrested and was ordered to leave South Africa. The couple went to the UK with their three children (Peta, Tessa and Nicholas) and lived there for 27 years. Harold died in 1996. AnnMarie first worked at Bradford University in the unit for Yugoslav Studies (she learnt Serbo-Croat) and later at Middlesex University in the Development of Women’s Studies programme, where she obtained her PhD. She spearheaded gender studies and was a founding member of the journal Feminist Review. She wrote three academic books on gender and education and an autobiography, The Long Way Home. On her return to South Africa in 1991 she worked first in the Centre for Adult and Continuing Education and then at the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape until she retired in 1998. Wolpe headed the Gender Equity Task Team called for by the Minister of Education. As a result of its work a Gender Equity Directorate was established in the National Department of Education. She has been described as “warm, flamboyant, gregarious and elegant”.

Sources: GroundUp, Peta Wolpe, Alicia Chamaille, Pippa Green, CNBC Africa

Shirley Hanrahan (1939-2018)

Professor Shirley Hanrahan (BSc 1959, PhD 1979), the first head of the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences (APES) at Wits, was a worldrenowned entomologist. She worked in the Department of Physics and the Faculty of Health Sciences before accepting a permanent lectureship in the Department of Zoology in 1971. She headed the department from 1994 to 1999 and then APES when the departments of Botany and Zoology merged. Prof Hanrahan’s research focus was locusts. She was President of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa for two terms and edited African Entomology. After many years of teaching, supervising and contributing to Senate and academic bodies, in retirement she continued to serve the School by mentoring staff. Professor Hanrahan died of cancer on 5 February 2018, leaving her husband Prof Hu Hanrahan, daughter Anne and son Paul. The University’s flag flew at half-mast on 14 February in honour of her contribution to Wits.

Source: Wits News

Mary Tilch (1931-2018)

Mary Tilch (Owen) graduated in 1954 with a BA in Social Science. She then lived for a number of years in the UK, where she had been born and had attended school. She worked with handicapped children in London hospitals, a vocation she continued when she returned to South Africa and married Gustav “Gus” Tilch (BSc Eng 1954) in 1960. They had met while both were undergraduates. She helped him start his own engineering company from home and was a fulltime mother to Ceri and David, both now Wits graduates themselves. She and her family lived together in the same home in Johannesburg for the next 58 years. After Gustav’s death in 1993, Mary spent her retirement travelling in Europe, the Middle East and Far East, and Southern Africa. Throughout her life, Mary maintained close contact with her good friend Jean MacMurchie (Leigh), alongside whom she graduated. In 2014, they celebrated the diamond anniversary of their graduation on the same spot on the Great Hall steps where they had been photographed 60 years earlier. Mary died in February 2018, aged 87, following a fall in her home.

Source: David Tilch

Clive Ulyate (1933-2018)

Clive Ulyate, who has died aged 84, was not the greatest Springbok rugby flyhalf – he played only seven tests – but he might have been the most gifted. And his selection for the national team in 1955, while still a student at Wits, remains one of the most romantic in the game. A precocious sportsman at St John’s and Hilton colleges, Ulyate first played provincial rugby as a 19-year-old undergraduate, selected by Transvaal in 1953 against Western Province in Cape Town. It rained on the day and Transvaal’s wise scrumhalf, Fonnie du Toit, a veteran of the Springboks’ 4-0 annihilation of the All Blacks in 1949, told his rookie backline, who included Ulyate and fellow Wits student Wilf Rosenberg, he would give them the ball in the muddy conditions only when he was certain they would not be sitting ducks for the WP’s loose forwards, especially Hennie Muller, known as “Die Windhond”. Deep into the match Du Toit finally passed to Ulyate, who sent the ball to Rosenberg, but was then late-tackled and had his face shoved into the mud. Ulyate looked up at his tackler, the inevitable Muller, who briefly apologised – “Sorry, ou Clive” – before chasing after Rosenberg. Many years later, Ulyate recalled the incident. “I wasn’t surprised by the late tackle,” he said. “I was surprised he knew my name.” In 1955 Ulyate became a household name. He was unexpectedly picked to be the Springbok flyhalf against the formidable British and Irish Lions. In the week of the trials, he had been focused on another ball game – his favourite, he said – across the street from campus when he was summoned to fill in for an injured triallist. He first used up his shilling on the pinball machine before responding to the nation’s call. In 1983 Ulyate coached a rugby team made up of Afrikaner and Xhosa miners from the Free State on a tour of the US. A scratch golfer and a first-class cricketer for Transvaal and Eastern Province, he taught at Kingswood College in Grahamstown, then worked at Potchefstroom University and for Anglo American in Welkom, where he died. His wife Sally predeceased him by 10 years.

Source: Archie Henderson

David Goldblatt (1930-2018)

David Goldblatt (BCom 1957, DLitt honoris causa 2008) was one of South Africa’s most influential photographers. His work focused on South African society, with all its divisions, inequalities and arresting juxtapositions. He was born in Randfontein and, after matriculating at Krugersdorp High School, worked in his father’s men’s clothing store while studying part-time at Wits. “I found university extremely valuable,” he said. “It wasn’t simply the content of the courses. It was the demand made on one to think and express oneself coherently and in a reasonably directed sort of way.” After his father died in 1962, Goldblatt sold the store and started working full time as a professional photographer. He took on corporate and media assignments but was personally most interested in social commentary through portraiture, landscapes, public art and other images that captured the times. In 1989, he founded the Market Photography Workshop, which has trained hundreds of disadvantaged photographers. He was generous and honest with other photographers. His many awards included the most prestigious photography prize in the world, the Hasselblad Photography Award (2006), and he was represented in galleries around the world. The honorary degree which Wits conferred on him recognised that “every aspect of his exemplary career has been associated with artistic excellence and innovation: in the manner of his social commentary; in his composition and darkroom technique; in his attention to the aesthetic qualities of the print; in his complex use of metaphors, landscape and architecture reference; and in the use of accompanying text.” For a major exhibition in 2015, The Pursuit of Values, the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg described him as “a critic of exploitative labour practices, a powerful documenter of systemic poverty and structural inequality” and “a protestor against censorship and limitations on freedom of speech”. Goodman Gallery owner Liza Essers and Josh Ginsburg produced a documentary film, Goldblatt, in which he is recorded as saying: “I am particularly interested in values. The values that we hold and how we express those values. These to me are the vital questions. My work was political … but … I gradually realised that events themselves were to me much less interesting than the conditions that led to the events. I was looking obliquely at things. In my opinion a photographer is responsible for critically observing. If we want to preserve the values for which there was this great struggle, we have to be very vigilant. And the price of liberty is vigilance.” A digital archive of his work will be created in South Africa and made available to the public for free. His negatives have been given to Yale University Art Gallery. Goldblatt leaves his wife, Lily, and children Steven, Brenda and Ronnie. 

Sources: SA History Online; Wits University; Standard Bank Gallery; Goodman Gallery

Dan Robinson (1923-2018)

Daniel Hilyard “Hagar” Robinson (BArch 1950) was still rowing in regattas in his 80s. “Most of your rowing men are useless at ball games,” he told Wits Review in December 2015, “and rowing is a sport you do sitting down, so you can do it all your life.” After graduating, he and other ex-Wits University Boat Club members started the Viking Rowing Club – and kept at it for the next 70-odd years. He was a great and longstanding supporter of the WUBC and of University Rowing in general. It was only one of the varied activities he enjoyed over his long life, which started at the old Hills House hostel of King Edward VII School (KES), where his father Frank G Robinson was the housemaster and then headmaster. Playing the Great Highland Bagpipe was another great passion. He played right up until a few months before his death. Robinson served in North Africa and Italy in World War II, and for decades collected military uniforms, artefacts, books and other records. He was able to lay his hand on a source or authority, within minutes, to back up his recollections of incidents and stories recorded by a very wide range of authors. Some of his meticulously painted lead soldiers and pipers are on display at the museum at KES. He also made an accurate model of the HMS Swiftsure, the ship which a Robinson forebear had captained in 1804. His father had served in World War I. His work as an architect included houses for the rich and famous, office buildings such as SA Breweries’ across Jan Smuts Avenue from Wits, and buildings such as the DJ du Plessis Centre on the West Campus of the University. Though he had been sent to Hilton College when his father died, Robinson remained devoted to KES and attended every Service of Remembrance there from the end of WWII until 2017. Likeable, considerate, full of humour and gusto, he was a scholar and a gentleman who fulfilled the KES cenotaph exhortation: “Sons of this place, let this of you be said, that you who live are worthy of your dead.” He leaves his wife Moyra (who studied Quantity Surveying at Wits), daughters Lucy and Sally, stepsons Craig and Dudley Levieux (both Witsies) and their families.

Source: Alan Munro

Basil Cooke (1915-2018)

Herbert Basil Sutton Cooke, a geoscientist of international repute, passed away peacefully on 3 May at 102 years of age. He was the last surviving member of a group of pioneering African palaeontologists that included Robert Broom, Raymond Dart, John Robinson and Phillip Tobias in South Africa, as well as Louis Leakey in East Africa. Educated at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg, Cambridge University and Wits (MSc 1940, DSc 1947), he taught Geology at Wits from 1938 to 1947. From 1941 to 1945 he was also a Captain in the South African Air Force, serving as observer and meteorologist in South Africa, North Africa and Italy. In 1953, following a stint as a private consulting geologist, he returned to Wits. Between 1958 and 1961 he held the title of Reader in Stratigraphic Geology and was responsible for the administration of the Geology Department and the organisation of research. In 1961 he moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where he was professor of Geology at Dalhousie University. He retired in 1981 and, with his wife Dorette, moved to White Rock, British Columbia. Though his formal education was as a geologist, academic communities knew him best as one of the pioneering African palaeontologists. He took a keen interest in hominid evolution and played a significant role in understanding the geology of the Sterkfontein Caves site (Maropeng), rich in hominid and animal fossils. His personal speciality was with Quaternary Geology and he made notable contributions in papers on the alluvial terraces of the lower Vaal River, famous for the Stone Age artefacts and vertebrate fossils revealed in pits excavated by diamond diggers. He also made major research contributions working on fossil African pigs. His many publications included a university text book (Geology for South African Students: An lntroductory Textbook) and, with Vincent Maglio, a benchmark volume (Evolution of African Mammals). He was a regular broadcaster of scientific talks and from time to time took part in a popular SABC radio programme, Test The Team, on Springbok Radio. This year he celebrated the 68th anniversary of his election to Fellowship of the Royal Society of South Africa, of which he was subsequently made a Life Fellow. He was honoured by several societies and associations, and Wits conferred an honorary DSc degree on him in 1998. Professor Cooke leaves his sons Christopher and Patrick and three grandsons.

Source: Carl Anhauesser, Geobulletin of the Geological Society of South Africa

Ronald Anderson (1931-2018)

Ronald George Anderson (BA 1952) was a former news editor and deputy editor-inchief of The Star newspaper in Johannesburg. He attended St John’s College and, after graduating from Wits, started work at the South African Press Association. He moved to The Star in 1960 and one of the highlights of his time there was covering the Rivonia Trial. Colleagues remember him as having upheld high standards of professional work and ethics. He retired in 1994 and enjoyed hiking, trout fishing, golf, woodwork and painting.

Source: Winnie Graham, The Star

Mike Rosholt (1920-2018)

One of South Africa’s business titans, Mike Rosholt, died in February at the age of 97. He was the former CEO and then Chairman of Barlow Rand and Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand from 1983 to 1997. Rosholt retired from Barlows in January 1991, but continued to work for social change as chairman of the National Business Initiative, the Joint Education Trust and the Claude Leon Foundation, among others. He is remembered as a pioneer of non-racialism in the workplace. In recognition of this contribution, he was awarded the Order of the Baobab (Silver) in 2009. Mike Rosholt lived a long, rich and colourful life. Born in Johannesburg, he spent his early years in Beira, Mozambique, where his father was a ship’s agent. There being no schools in Beira in the 1920s, he was sent at the age of seven to Parktown School (PTS) as a boarder, travelling by sea and train with his tickets on a string around his neck. From PTS, he went on to Michaelhouse, where he excelled academically and in sports. From school he was articled to what would become Cooper Brothers, but joined up when war broke out, in the 2nd Field Regiment of the SA Artillery. He was wounded in the Libyan desert and captured by Field Marshall Erwin Rommel himself. During his time as a POW, many lifelong friendships were formed, and his studies towards his CA continued, tutored by men who would later become his colleagues and mentors in the profession. Mike came out top student in South Africa in his final exams. He joined Goldby, Panchaud & Webber, eventually becoming senior partner. In 1963 he became an executive director of Thomas Barlow & Sons. He married Beatrice Ash and they had three sons. Bea died in 2010. During his long career, Mike sat on the boards of, among others, SA Breweries, Standard Bank, the Old Mutual and ASA Ltd. He was chair of the Urban Foundation, the Michaelhouse Trust, the IDT, the SA Foundation, the Stellenbosch Community Development Programme and many other bodies. Mike’s life and career was an example of integrity, decency, modesty and compassion. He received an honorary LLD degree from Wits in 1996.

Source: Alec Hogg, Biznews

Rachel Saunders (1954-2018)

Dr Rachel Saunders (née Politzer) (BSc 1975, BSc Hons 1975, PhD 1982) majored in chemistry and botany at Wits. She and her horticulturist husband Rod ran a professional indigenous seed merchant business, Silverhill Seeds. Travelling throughout Southern Africa, they collected and procured a vast range of plant seed. The company’s large catalogue speaks of their collecting dedication and depth of knowledge. Seed was sold to plant enthusiasts, collectors, breeders and commercial businesses worldwide. Rod and Rachel were also enthusiastic mountaineers and hill walkers, an activity that took them to remote parts. Often these trips would yield new plant discoveries and uncover the rarest of species. In the last few years both were dedicated to a project to locate and image all known Gladioli species in Southern Africa. They were visiting the Ngoye forest reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal when they were abducted and murdered. They touched many people’s lives with their kind, generous natures. Their contribution to the botanical and horticultural world is and will be missed greatly.

Source: Dr Andrew Hackland; Margie Owen-Smith

Philip Hare (1933-2018)

Philip Joseph Hare (BCom 1954 LLB 1959) was born in Parys to Shimon Mendel and Rochel Hare, immigrants from Lithuania and general store owners. After graduation from Wits he joined the Johannesburg Bar. In this early stage of his law career, he defended several members of the African National Congress. In the “Little Rivonia” trial he saved Mac Maharaj from the death penalty; Maharaj later served as Minister of Transport under the presidency of Nelson Mandela. Hare also conducted many other high-profile criminal and civil trials. In 1960 he married Isadora Finn (BA 1958, MA 1974), who was on the staff of the School of Social Work at Wits from 1966 to 1974. The couple moved to the United States, where Hare was required to begin his legal career anew. He started as an adjunct professor at Catholic University Law School and later joined the firm of Baskin & Sears, practising immigration law. While at Baskin & Sears, he advised the government of South Africa to commute the death sentences of the “Sharpeville Six”, who were later released. Hare later set up his own law firm, and continued to represent the government of South Africa through the transition to democracy. He helped the Mandela government unravel some of the vestiges of apartheid in the United States. Hare was the consummate family man throughout his 58-year marriage and a strong believer in his Jewish faith and traditions. He was a talented chef and a lover of music, literature, sports, and a good political debate. He is survived by Isadora, their children Joshua Hare, Melissa Landa, Neil Hare and Rachel Bork, and nine grandchildren.

Source: Isadora Finn Hare

Leslie du Toit (1928-2018)

Leslie John du Toit (BArch 1955) started life in a humble home in Rosettenville. He was gifted musically, taught himself the piano and played in a band with his brother Charles. He loved Big Band and jazz, and was always a keen concert-goer. At the age of 19 he met Carla Langness and they married after five years of courtship – a happy union that was to last almost 64 years, until her death last year. His work was more of a hobby to him than a job. He loved being an architect, a dream he had had as a young boy and which he fulfilled by putting himself through university and becoming a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He started his practice midway through university and built up a client base so quickly he debated whether he needed to qualify. But he always saw things through. His pride and joy was to be a five-storey office block called Corporate Place that he put up as his own development on Fredman Drive in Sandton. His firm had various partners over the years. He was also involved in the design of a centre for children in Mathibestad near Hammanskraal, served on the board of Alexandra Motswedi skills training centre, and was a member of the Pat Francis Trust in Canada. He received the Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Award for his outstanding service and humanitarian work. He officially retired in 2012 at the age of 84 but continued doing pro bono work and mentoring young architects. His mindset was that “old is for old people” and he didn’t consider himself one of those. As well as music, cars and fine dining, he enjoyed his golf and tennis. Leslie leaves his children Ashley, Lesley and Michael and their families.

Source: Michael du Toit

Gerald Nestadt (1921-2018)

Gerald Nestadt (BA 1940) died at home in Benoni (where he was born and grew up) on 1 March, aged 96. He was the elder brother of Allan (who died a few months earlier; see WITSReview April 2018) and Stanley (whom he survived by a matter of weeks). Gerald matriculated from KES, where he was a boarder. One of his majors in his BA was the then available course of Ethics. Perhaps influenced by its moral precepts, his was a principled life. On completion of his degree, he enlisted in the SAAF, in which he served as a technical instructor, attaining the rank of lieutenant. His discharge in 1945 saw the commencement of his successful career in the corporate world, during the course of which he served as a director of numerous private and listed public companies. His wife, Selma Tolkin, to whom he was married for 52 years, predeceased him. They were justifiably proud of their two sons, Larry and Jonathon, and their daughter Barbara Garber. He also leaves numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He and Selma travelled extensively. He had a passion for cars and was a single handicap golfer. Extremely philanthropic, he commanded respect and admiration. He aged with elegance and stoicism, and was dapper until the end.

Stanley Nestadt (1924-2018)

In 1942, Stanley Nestadt, having, with his identical twin brother, Allan, matriculated at Benoni High, registered as a part-time accountancy student at Wits. However, his studies were interrupted by his enlisting in the SAAF. He served in Bulawayo in the meteorological section. After the war, he continued his chosen career and qualified as a CA(SA) in 1948, having excelled as a student. But he opted not to stay in the profession. Instead he used his entrepreneurial skills to pursue over the years numerous successful business ventures. In 1988 he, with his wife, the former Natalie Tucker (they were married in 1949) emigrated to the US and made their home in San Diego. He lived there in retirement until, after a short illness, his death on 17 January, aged 93. He is survived by Natalie, five married daughters and their families. At school he was a good athlete; later in life, a keen golfer. Devoted to his family, he had a steadfast integrity. He was a quality person who had the affection of all who knew him.

Errol Tyobeka (1953-2018)

Dr Errol Mandla Tyobeka (PhD 1983) was educated at schools in KwaZulu-Natal and was the first black candidate in South Africa to obtain an MSc and PhD in Biochemistry. He worked at the University of Fort Hare, Wits and the University of the North, where he headed the Biochemistry Department and became Deputy Dean of the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Faculty. He received a number of prestigious scholarships, research grants and awards, including the 1981 Mellor Prize for Research from Wits. He was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Tshwane University of Technology from 2005 to 2010 and more recently Special Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor at the Namibia University of Science and Technology. His experience made him a valued member of the National Research Foundation Board from 2011. He leaves his wife Palesa Tyobeka, son Silumko and daughter Anathi.

Source: National Research Foundation

Desmond Cole (1922-2018)

Professor Emeritus Desmond Thorne Cole (BA 1949, BA Hons 1950, MA 1952, DLitt honoris causa 1988) had a long and remarkable life of diverse achievements. He was the oldest of six children whose parents kept a store and traded cattle in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. His first language was Setswana and he was schooled at home and then at Christian Brothers College in Kimberley. After matriculating aged 16, he lied about his age so that he could join up for World War II, and was sent to North Africa to rebuild damaged infrastructure. He was in charge of a team of black volunteers because of his ability to converse in African languages. After six years, he was able to enrol at Wits on General Smuts’ grant for ex-servicemen. He studied the Bantu language family and was appointed as a full-time lecturer in 1949. His MA thesis was published as An Introduction to Tswana Grammar. By 1954 he was the youngest professor at Wits, aged 31. In the late 1950s and 1960s he visited the USA to lecture in comparative African language studies. From 1971 to 1973 Prof Cole served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and over the years he acted as head of several departments and served on Senate and Council. He was director of the Wits University Press and published the Journal of Bantu Studies (later African Studies) and the Bantu Treasury Series (fiction and nonfiction books in African languages). For his service to the University, he was awarded an honorary degree. His students and colleagues included Tony Traill, who would become a professor of linguistics at Wits and expert in Khoisan languages; the musician Mzilikazi James Khumalo, who succeeded Prof Cole as Head of African Languages; and PAC leader Robert Sobukwe. He and his wife Naureen became self-taught world authorities on lithops, the stonelike plants found in arid parts of southern Africe, and published Lithops – Flowering Stones. Prof Cole retired in 1982 and published a book on Setswana words for animals and plants in 1995. Many of these words and names had been forgotten by Setswana speakers. In 2012, with Lally MonchoWarren, the Coles produced a comprehensive and innovative Setswana and English Illustrated Dictionary. Like all his work, it is a testament to his studious, meticulous approach to ordering knowledge, and to his respectful collaboration with other people. Professor Cole died in May after a short illness. He leaves Naureen and his son Des, who lives in Australia.

Sources: Naureen Cole; Des Cole Jnr; Kevin Wakely-Smith; Lally Moncho-Warren; David Crawford; Noel Garson; Eleanor-Mary Cadell

Laurence Bam (1944-2018)

Carl Laurence Bam (BA 1966, BA Hons 1981, MA 1993), or simply Bam as he was known to nearly everyone who knew him, died after a long struggle with failing health. One of the first things for which he will be remembered was his loyalty to old friends. It says a great deal about his relationships that many of his friendships went back over 60 years. His consistency, integrity, lack of pretension and sardonic humour were valued by all who knew him. Bam was a powerful presence, larger than life. He was always prepared to challenge accepted authority, whether it was intellectual, moral or bureaucratic. This sometimes brought him into direct conflict with the world. But whatever the outcome, he never compromised his integrity. He had a capacity to cut through anything that sought to mystify, muddy or confuse, and get to the heart of an issue. Bam saw himself first and foremost as a teacher. He devoted the years he spent in the English department at JCE to enthusing his students with his reverence for the critical role of language in education. Without accumulating the usual academic plaudits, he was one of South Africa’s foremost researchers in applied linguistics. Material rewards meant little to him. His rewards were to be found in the disinterested pursuit of knowledge and imbuing young lives with intellectual curiosity. The huge impact he had is borne out by messages paying tribute to him from former Bryanston High pupils. The following give a flavour of the regard in which he was held as a mentor and teacher: “Very occasionally someone comes into and through our lives and influences us so greatly, and so positively, that they are never forgotten. Laurence was one such man.” “Thank God for the greatest teacher ever. Inspirational and dedicated to his vocation. He taught me the beauty of the English language as well as how to stand up for myself with dignity and not to give in to bullies.” He leaves his wife Heather, daughters Billy and George, and granddaughter Carly.

Source: Michael Rice

Liz Chase (1950-2018)

Elizabeth Muriel (Liz) Chase was a Johannesburg College of Education and Wits staff member from 1983 until her retirement in July 2015. She was a member of the Zimbabwean hockey team that won the country’s first gold medal at the Olympic Games, in 1980 in Moscow, and had also played for Wits and Southern Transvaal. She joined Wits in 2000 when the JCE merged with the University. One of her legacies as a sports administrator at Wits is the hockey turf that was opened in 2014, for which she helped raise funds. It has made a great difference to the sport locally; the World Hockey League semi-finals were hosted at this facility in 2017. She also organised the USSA squash tournament in 2015 despite her illness. She has been described as “great fun to be with, a larger than life character, helpful, kind, passionate, professional and respectful”. In addition to her skills as a player, she contributed stability, continuity, mentorship and guidance to students on the field and in the lecture hall. Liz is survived by her partner, Clare Digby.

Source: Adrian Carter, Wits Sport; The Times

Derek Keys (1931-2018)

Derek Keys (1931-2018) Derek Lyle Keys (BCom 1951) was born in Johannesburg and matriculated at King Edward VII School. At Wits, he was an outstanding student, achieving 22 first class passes in 25 courses and earning the Alexander Aiken Medal. He completed his articles at Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, qualified as a chartered accountant in 1954 and began his career at the Industrial Development Corporation. In 1965 he went on his own as a financial consultant and during the successive decades became an officer and director of many companies. Most notably he served as CEO and MD of Malbak, National Discount House, ASEA, Gencor and BHP Billiton. He is often credited with unbundling corporations in ways which allowed their component companies to emerge as major businesses in their own right. Known for his leadership, financial and management skills, formidable intellectual powers and integrity, he was appointed to the Iscor board and then to Cabinet in 1991 as Minister of Trade and Industry and of Economic Co-ordination. As the country approached transition the portfolio of Finance was added to his responsibility. He was the first African finance minister to raise a tax to pay for an election and had a seminal role in the negotiations. Former President FW de Klerk described him as “a remarkable man who served South Africa in an exemplary manner. He deserves special respect regarding his work during the Constitutional negotiations.” “It fell to him and to his open style of dealing with people and issues to persuade the ANC in the run-up to the 1994 elections that a market economy based on fiscal and monetary discipline was the best model for a democratic South Africa,” wrote Business Live. “His legacy in the government lingered throughout the Mandela and Thabo Mbeki presidencies, particularly in his tough and thoroughly principled approach to public finances.” He also established the Katz tax commission, which led to the rejuvenation of the revenue service. Keys was the only Cabinet Minister to retain his post and serve for some months in the new Government of National Unity. When Wits awarded him an honorary Doctor of Economic Science degree in 1995, the citation read: “Derek Keys contributed greatly to the attainment of fiscal discipline and stability in this country at a time of heightened political differences and economic expectations. He did this through his acute awareness of the political and economic forces at work here and abroad, a capacity heightened by the universal confidence in his probity and ability to persuade those belonging to the most diverse political constituencies of the soundness of his views.” He leaves his wife Silma (a portrait artist), son Martin, daughter Jessica and their families.

Source: Wits University; Business Day; FW de Klerk Foundation

Bruce Davidson (1950-2018)

Professor Bruce Clement Davidson (PhD 1986) was an academic staff member in Wits’ Department of Biochemistry, which merged with the Department of Physiology to become the School of Physiology. He retired from Wits at the end of 2009 and took up teaching posts at the St James School of Medicine in the Caribbean, first in Bonaires and subsequently in Anguilla. He was a committed teacher and his research interests included the lipid biochemistry of sharks, an animal he revered in his non-research life too. Professor Davidson retired from teaching in Anguilla at the end of 2017 and a few months later moved to Belize, where tragically he was murdered.

Source: Professor Martin Veller

Graham Pearson (1939-2018)

Harry Graham Pearson (BSc Eng 1962) was born in Johannesburg. He represented his Faculty on the Wits SRC and gained work experience in Welkom on a gold mine and in Zambia on the copper belt during vacations. After graduating, he was offered a two-year Commonwealth bursary with GEC in the UK, where he gained practical engineering experience at their turbine plant near London, at Hunterston nuclear power station in Scotland and coal mines in Wales. He was Pr Eng and a member of the Institutes of Mechanical Engineering in SA and the UK. He married Susan Herbert in the UK and returned to South Africa, where he joined the family business, Pearson Manufacturing Company, specialising in heavy drop forging. He introduced a number of his own innovations into the company, starting with an apprenticeship school, one of the first self-elected in-house works committees, a morning soup kitchen and a company soccer team. After a horrific motor accident and heroic recovery in 2008, Graham semi-retired but remained active doing consulting work. He became keenly involved in opposition politics at the ward level and was instrumental in obtaining heritage status for the Norscot Manor Community Centre. He will be remembered for his engineering and design expertise, his integrity, his big heart and generosity of spirit, his huge sense of fun and enthusiasm for life in everything he tackled. He suffered a severe stroke on 27 March 2018 and died on 4 April. His wife survives him.

Source: Susan Pearson

Malcolm Turner (1947-2018)

Wits Rugby stalwart Malcolm “Bonzo” Turner died in April after a long battle with cancer. He was involved with Wits Rugby for about 40 years, initially as a first team lock in the 1970s, and continuing to play for WOBS throughout the 1980s glory years. Thereafter he helped with club administration for many years, serving as a committee member, arranging 100 Club gatherings and building up the old boy database. Up until the last couple of years he was a regular supporter “on the fence” at Wits home matches, close to the bar, for easy access to his favoured Bitterly Cold Castles. Wits and Pirates will play for a floating trophy – the Turner Cup – in his honour every year.

Source: Neil Stokes


Aaron Klug (1926-2018)

Sir Aaron Klug (BSc 1946, DSc honoris causa 1984), Director of the UK MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology from 1986 to 1996, President of The Royal Society from 1995 to 2000 and 1982 Nobel Laureate, died on 20 November 2018.

He was instrumental in revealing the structures of complex biological molecules, from viruses to tRNA, to chromatin and zinc fingers. His most important contribution to scientific research was his painstaking development of crystallographic electron microscopy. This combines the techniques of electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction to recover three-dimensional structural information from two-dimensional electron micrographs. For this he was the sole recipient of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Klug was born in Zelvas, Lithuania in 1926. When he was two years old his family moved to Durban.

He enrolled at Wits at the age of 15. “I took the pre-medical course and, in my second year, I took, among other subjects, biochemistry, or physiological chemistry as it was then called, which stood me in good stead in later years when I came to face biological material. However, I felt the lack of a deeper foundation, and moved to chemistry and this in turn led me to physics and mathematics. So finally I took a science degree.”

The Dean of Science allowed Klug to pick his own combination of science and medical subjects. The physics course at Wits was old-fashioned, he said, but stood him in good stead later on. He also took courses in astronomy and experimental psychology, and read whatever interested him. “I made my own syllabus, basically.”

After his Wits BSc and University of Cape Town MSc, he lectured at UCT and developed a strong interest in the structure of matter and how it was organised. In 1949, he went to Cambridge as a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory of Physics, where he applied some of his knowledge of metallurgy, as well as numerical methods, to questions about the cooling of steel. This work turned out to be useful in other areas too.

“I decided that I really wanted to work on the X-ray analysis of biological molecules.” Working in the Crystallography Laboratory at Birkbeck College, London, he met Rosalind Franklin, who was working on the structure of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). “Her beautiful X-ray photographs fascinated me.”  After her death he took over her virus research group, which moved to Cambridge.

He continued to work on the structure of TMV and began looking at the structures of spherical viruses. The close study of electron micrographs of viruses led to the development of crystallographic electron microscopy and quantitative methods for their analysis, leading to general methods for calculating three-dimensional maps of specimens. These methods were taken up worldwide in many fields of research. The work also established many of the basic rules governing structure and self-assembly of viruses.

Klug’s interest soon diversified to include work on the structure of DNA and RNA, and his group was the first to determine a number of key structures. He was also instrumental in starting work on neurodegenerative disease at the LMB. His input was central to our understanding of the role of the tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease.

He was also a champion of other new developments, such as the programme of large scale DNA sequencing.

Klug was an accomplished theoretician with a wide knowledge of mathematical physics who had the rare ability to apply his theoretical knowledge to the solution of practical problems. He enjoyed teaching, too. “The contact with young minds keeps one on one’s toes,” he said. He was also highly imaginative. He read widely and remembered all he had read.

In 1988 he was knighted and in 1995 he was appointed a member of the Order of Merit. In 2012 he retired from the LMB.

Michel Goedert, who worked with Klug on the role of the tau protein, commented: “Aaron always said that curiosity was the most important quality for a scientist and that one had to live in interesting times.”

Klug was married to Liebe (Bobrow), whom he met in Cape Town, and they had two sons, Adam and David. Lady Klug and Adam survive him.

Sources: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology; Nobel Prize website; Web of Stories


Ramquar Ramasar (1918-2018)

Dr. Ramquar Ramasar, who qualified in Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1946, died on 24 August 2018, a month short of his 100th birthday. He was a second generation Indian South African, a descendant of the indentured labourers recruited to work on the sugar plantations of the then Natal colony. Dr. Ramasar was raised in Umzinto, a small town on the south coast of Kwazulu-Natal.

He matriculated at Sastri College, the first Indian high school in the country, in Durban in 1938. Dr Ramasar then studied towards a B.Sc. degree at the South African Native College in Fort Hare. Prior to completing the degree he was accepted to study medicine at Wits. Upon qualifying he was unable to obtain a position to do an internship in a provincial hospital on account of his race. Dr. A Gray, a family practitioner in Umzinto took the newly qualified Ramasar under his wing to enable him gain experience. This ‘internship’, though unpaid, was gratefully accepted. Ramasar then opened his own practice in Umzinto and served the indigent population on the sugar estates there and in the broader south coast until 1961. His gentle manner, skill and compassion endeared him to the local community and he earned the respect of all. As with many rural general practitioners of the era he was multiskilled and performed minor surgical procedures, delivered babies and even extracted teeth.

During this time two young doctors joined him for short periods to gain experience – Dr. Narain Govender of Umzinto, and Dr Krishna Somers of Durban who would go on to become an eminent cardiologist and retire as Professor of cardiology at the Royal Perth hospital, Western Australia.

Dr. Ramasar relocated to Durban in 1962 and worked at King Edward, Clairwood and RK Khan Hospitals. His engagement with the Natal Provincial Administration over a salary dispute led to him and other colleagues being dismissed and reappointed to junior positions forfeiting all benefits accrued.

Ramquar Ramasar served the community in which he lived in many ways. He was active in religious and cultural organisations. In his professional capacity he served as honorary medical advisor to the Natal Blind and Deaf Society and the Friends of the Sick Association (FOSA), an organization dedicated to the care of patients with tuberculosis. He was also President of the Umzinto and Districts Indian Child Welfare Society. He also provided voluntary service to the Clayton Gardens Home for the Aged and the David Landau Community Centre.

In the 1970s, at the request of Mr CD Molapo, the then Minister of Health of Lesotho, Ramasar and a colleague Dr. SH Thaker, reorganized the Department of Medicine and the Dispensary of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Maseru. This task was undertaken voluntarily during their vacation leave.

Dr Ramasar retired from the RK Khan Hospital in 1983. However his professional career was far from over. He was approached by a friend who graduated with him at Wits, Dr John Broekhardt, to assist at St. Mary’s Hospital. His six month stint was extended and he ran the Diabetic clinic and Hypertension clinic at St. Mary’s from 1984 to 1998. He then joined a group of family practitioners as a locum and worked well into his nineties.

Ramquar Ramasar was a life member of the South African Medical Association (SAMA). He recalled that at the first ever medical association meeting that he attended, he, having sat in the front row, was advised during a break that he could not do so, and had to have his tea in a separate room on the grounds of his race. He received the Dr KM Seedat Fellowship Award for long and dedicated service from the Family Practice Association in 1996.

Dr Ramasar married Pramda (nee Sobrun), an academic and a social worker with a Ph.D in sociology, in 1952. She too was active in community life and in her retirement served as President of the Chatsworth Hospice. He is survived by Pramda, two sons, Nawal Kishore and Yudhamanyu, and four grandchildren.

Mr CN Pillay (Retired Specialist Surgeon; Past President of the Natal Coastal Branch of the Medical Association of South Africa)

Dr Pramda Ramasar

Krishnamurti Somers (7 October 1926-15 October 2018)

MB.Bch.(Rand), FRCP(London), FRCP(Edin), FRACP, FACC, DCH.

Kris was born in Durban, South Africa. He was the fifth child in a family of eight, all of whom other than his younger brother, Sat who is a Professor of Radiology at McMaster University in Canada, have predeceased him. Kris was a fourth generation descendent of indentured labourers. He and his siblings were raised in difficult days of poverty. Kris found his long standing habit of frugality difficult to give up.

He inherited from his parents a fine intelligence, a dogged persistence and sufficient ambition to project him into the heady post-imperial and international scientific world. Kris was a man of great handsomeness, an imposing presence with charming manners and a fluent and lively wit.   He moved freely in, and made contributions to circles where the sole price of entry was excellence and intelligence.  

Kris was raised in Durban where he attended schools that were segregated for Indians due to decades of legislated racial discrimination.   His whole life was a subtle but crushing rejoinder to the

rooi-nek prejudice which so distempered his youth.   A lesser person may have become embittered or lapsed into activist politics, but Kris remained true to the humanist scientific ideal.   Such was the strength of his optimism and inner resilience that he retained his love of Africa and its people whom he continued to serve even after being driven into exile.

A scholarship from Sastri College, Durban to attend the University of Witwatersrand, enabled Kris to study medicine. He graduated as the Craib Prizeman in 1950.   At the time Wits, as Kris affectionately called it, was the only university in the country  without racist admission policies.

Kris wrote about his days at Wits:

My own years at Medical School were my most formative years.   Enrolling at Wits on a University Scholarship was comforting, but my real trial was finding accommodation.

During my first six months I lived at Waterval Islamic Institute which involved a daily commute.  In subsequent months I stayed at a ghetto next to the white working class suburb of Mayfair.   Here I shared a bed with two children of the household in a room which also served as a passage; there was no bathroom and the outside toilet was shared by three families who lived on the small lot.   I lived in a subsequent year with friends in a location in Benoni, which involved a long walk to the local railway station and a commute in a packed railway carriage to Johannesburg.

It was in my latter clinical years, that I moved to a boarding house shared by two other medical students in an insalubrious part of Doornfontein which provided acceptable accommodation and space to study without the challenge of not knowing where I was to move for shelter and food.

As a South African of Indian origin I needed a permit issued by the Protector of Indian Immigrants, a Certificate of Identity, to enable me to travel from Natal and reside in the Transvaal during my student years.   The permit was withdrawn once I had finished my medical education. Lack of a permit also meant that I was unable to pursue internship other than in the province of my birth.   Non-white state hospitals in the province of Natal still had white nursing staff and it would have been degrading for white nurses to take instructions from a non-white doctor.

I was obliged to join a small mission hospital in Durban which, for the first time was prepared to appoint an intern.

Upon finishing his internship in Durban, Kris was unable to progress with his medical career. His words were: I found myself in the invidious position where I could never work or take further training because the teaching hospitals, which were government institutions, would not hire non-white doctors. It was just impossible.

In view of his difficulty in obtaining suitable training in South Africa, Kris finally made his way to the Central Middlesex Hospital in London, UK.   There he caught the attention of Drs Horace Joules and Keith Ball.   His academic career was launched and gathered increasing momentum taking him to Great Ormond Street and The Royal Postgraduate Medical School.

In 1957, he was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Medicine, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.   In 1968 he was appointed to a Personal Chair in Clinical Medicine.   At Makerere, he established a productive programme of research and teaching resulting in numerous publications. Makerere University, being the only medical school in East Africa, attracted students from all across the region.

Kris was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in 1962-3. This took him to the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California in San Francisco where he trained in Cardiovascular Physiology.

While in Uganda, his excellence and skills were recognised by the politicians and he served as Consultant Physician to President Milton Obote of Uganda from 1958 t0 1971.  It was a prestigious appointment that he enjoyed very much.   He finally fled Uganda in 1973 to escape the persecution of the notorious dictator, Idi Amin.

By the time that he left Uganda, Kris was an international figure and an authority in his prime interests, Endomyocardial Fibrosis and cardiovascular disease in warm climates.

Kris did a brief stint as a consultant to the World Health Organisation.   He worked as a consultant in training and development at the University of Papua New Guinea from 1973 t0 1974.   After several international postings with WHO he accepted a position as an Associate Professor at the University of 

Western Australia and Physician to the Royal Perth Hospital in 1974.   In 1990 Kris was elected Emeritus Consultant to the Royal Perth Hospital.

His early years in Perth were difficult.   This reinforced his concern for migrants and refugees leading to his lifelong contributions to ease their sufferings

Kris was a gifted researcher, teacher, administrator and medical ambassador.   He was a cultured person, a rounded Renaissance Man who followed the Santayana doctrine of being mindful of one’s history in order not to repeat it.

During the latter part of his life he made pilgrimages to temples and shrines.   He wrote of his experiences with great perceptiveness and sensitivity, distributing his experiences to friends around the world. 

Academically, he published about 130 papers. They were on cardiovascular topics especially in his special area of interest, Endomyocardial Fibrosis.   His interests spanned from the pediatric to the geriatric.   He contributed, by invitation, chapters in no fewer than 8 books. He was a co-author in a book on Endocardial Fibrosis that was published by Oxford University Press in 1993.   Kris pioneered intra cardiac biopsy and was one of the early users of cardiac catheterisation.

Kris had great affection and respect from his colleagues and students, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

In addition, he was consultant to WHO on Cardiomyopathies and medical training.    As well, he was a guest lecturer at national and international meetings in many countries that include, India, Japan, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Pakistan, Libya, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, London, Boston and Winnipeg.   He was an editorial consultant in several journals.

Kris maintained the ethical standards and clinical skills learned from his great teachers who flourished in the UK from 1950-1970.   The African experience honed and refined these skills to a level that would not be comprehensible in today’s technological world.

He had a great love of Uganda and over the years, Kris returned to South Africa and Uganda many times. He enjoyed catching up with former students, several of whom held senior medical positions in various parts of East Africa.

Kris was a social person and a member of many social and cultural associations.   He made contributions to all of them.   Some were as esoteric as the Milligan Society of Perth.   His personal experience of struggling to find a country influenced his decision to provide seed funding focussed on researching diasporas.   The Krishna Somers Foundation is based at Murdoch University, Perth.

One final word from Kris that may say more about the Renaissance Man: I have always been interested in diasporas and social justice…. I hope that it (The Krishna Somers Foundation) can help contribute towards a greater understanding of society and why people move from one country to another.

Kris passed away a week after his 92nd birthday having been working as a cardiologist until five weeks before his death. He lived life on his own terms seeing no point to retirement.

All of us who knew him mourn his loss.

Source: Professor Sat Somers

Jack Zunz (1923-2018)

Jack Zunz (1923-2018)

Renowned civil engineer Sir Gerhard Jacob (Jack) Zunz (BSc Eng 1949, DSc Eng honoris causa 2015) was born in Germany and came to South Africa as a young child. After matriculating in 1941 and enrolling at Wits, he interrupted his studies to volunteer for military service in World War 2, serving in Egypt and Italy. He then completed his civil engineering degree in the high-achieving Class of ’48 and joined Ove Arup and partners in London in 1950, on the strength of his experience in steel work. His potential was soon spotted and in 1954 he returned to South Africa to set up an office for the firm, which designed the Sentech Tower in Brixton.

When the firm of Ove Arup was appointed as structural engineers for the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the design of Danish architect Jørn Utzon proved to be a complex, controversial and unprecedented challenge. In 1961 Zunz was given the task of overseeing the project (it was “dumped in my lap”, he said, and would be an “extreme test” of the people who worked on it, dominating his life for 11 years). He and his team (which included his Wits classmate Michael Lewis) came up with solutions, developing many new techniques in the process.

Other well-known buildings he worked on include the Standard Bank Building in Fox Street, Johannesburg, HSBC Headquarters in Hong Kong and the Stansted Airport Terminal in the UK.

He became Chairman of the Ove Arup group from 1977 to 1984 and co-Chairman from then until 1989. He guided the firm’s social responsibility efforts and there is also a scholarship and a lecture in his name.

Zunz was knighted in 1989 and received many other honours in recognition of his professional achievements. On receiving his honorary degree from Wits, he spoke about how much the world had changed in the 70 years since his first graduation. After the war, he said, there was “a feeling that something very evil had been overcome” and a sense of optimism fuelled by a belief in the benefits of technology. The world had since become “vastly more complex” and its population had trebled. “The concept of lifelong learning is an essential ingredient of a civilised society,” he said in his acceptance speech. “It is ever more necessary for engineers and scientists to have a comprehensive understanding of the world in which they live and which they serve.”  

He is said to have learned from his mentor Ove Arup that “the only thing that matters in life is people”. He also enjoyed football and golf.

Zunz married Wits alumna Babs Maisel (BSc 1946) in 1948 and they had three children: Laura, Leslie and the late Marion. He died just before his 70th wedding anniversary and 95th birthday.

Sources: Wits University; The Guardian; BBC; The Times; Ove Arup

Jill Addleson (1943-2018)

My dear sister, Erica Sharon Jill Addleson, known to her friends as Jill, was born in 1943 during the Second World War, to my father Captain J Addleson and my mother Adele Marks. She came down to Durban in 1944 when my late father went into Private Practice as a General Practitioner.

Jill attended Treetops in Silverton Road and then went onto Durban Girls’ College where she matriculated. During her school years she became a keen golfer and played in many junior tournaments.

At the age of 15 she started playing bridge and this remained an integral part of her leisure time in later years. She won the Ethekweni Bridge Club Championships in 2007.

After school she proceeded to the University of Witswatersrand where she did a BA (Honours),majoring in History of Art and Music. Her thesis was based on the Wolmarans Street Synagogue in Johannesburg based on the music of Chazans . Jill was also a very accomplished pianist.

After completing her thesis, she returned to Durban and became the Curator of the Durban Art Gallery. This post she held for many years and was then promoted to be the Director of the Durban Art Gallery. Jill recognized the importance of promoting African Art and was solely responsible for starting, promoting and building up the African Art Collection at the Durban Art Gallery. She became the authority on African Art in South Africa and her opinion was sought after by many corporates in building their Art Collections. When she retired as Director of the Durban Art Gallery, she took up the post as Chief of Conservation of the art collection – a post she held until her retirement.

She was a proud Jew and observed all the religious festivals and she donated to all Jewish charities. Jill was very close to her family, in particular her nephew and niece, Oliver and Gina. She played lots of golf with Oliver when he was just starting out as a keen golfer, and exposed him to the love of Art and Design. Gina also attended ballet and classical music concerts with Jill and my late mom on numerous occasions, and they shared a love of literature, current events and the British Royal Family. Jill also had a love of Pekingese dogs, which is unmatched by anyone.

In the last 2 ½ years of her life she was beset with ill health, requiring surgery. She was uncomplaining and suffered with dignity. She finally succumbed to her illness on the 18th August 2018 , and will be sorely missed by me, my wife Ros, Oliver and Gina, her many relatives, and her friends, particularly in the Art World, Bridge Clubs and friends who were in her life each and every day.

Source: Steven Addleson and family

Alistair Stewart (1936-2018)

Alistair’s full name was Alistair Alexander Craig Stewart. He was born in 1937, before the second world war, at a Swiss missionary hospital in Elim, Limpopo. He has two older brothers, Craig and Andrew, and a younger sister, Jeanette.

Alistair was to become one of the top business managers in the world. He was part of the legendary Jack Welsh’s team at General Electric. This was at the time that GE was the largest company in the world. He was also famous for marrying Helen and having two terrific children.

His childhood home was a dairy farm called Geluk, located in Vhembe District, of Limpopo, in the Soutpansberg mountains.

Alistair learned to speak Venda as a child, playing with the local children. Aged 6, he went to an English medium boarding school in what is today Polokwane. But during school holidays, after his farming duties, he and Andrew would play with their Venda friends. The favourite game was called skop die blik - a wild run around game based on someone kicking a tin can.  Alistair loved the Venda language and throughout his life took every opportunity he could to speak it.  

He went to KES in Johannesburg for high school where he became a prefect, won the one mile race, earned athletics colours, and matriculated with a university pass. The picture of him winning the mile is on display with the pictures on the table.  It was an achievement that he cherished throughout his life.

After KES Alistair studied accountancy at Wits University.  He simultaneously worked as an articled clerk because he could not afford the cost of being a full time student, and he continued athletics, running for Wits and the Transvaal, as Gauteng used to be called. In 1960, aged 23, he graduated from Wits as a chartered accountant.

In that year, Chuck Berry had a hit song called The Twist, and Elvis Presley was the best-selling artist in history. It was the year the ANC initiated the anti-pass law campaign, and it was the year of the Sharpeville massacre.

In 1962 Alistair married Helen Cluver. Helen also had a connection to the Soutpansberg. Her father was Eustace Cluver, Professor of Public Health, dean of the Wits medical school, and a timber grower in the Soutpansberg on a farm called Molozi. Alistair and Helen had met as teenagers on their neighbouring family farms, but only started dating at University. In 1958 Helen was studying for a BSc (Physiotherapy) and Alistair took every opportunity he could to see her.  

In the year of their marriage the first man went into Space, and Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.

Murray was born the following year in 1963, when the first woman went into space. That was also the year that the USA President John F Kennedy was assassinated.

In 1965 Alistair graduated with honours from Edinburgh University with a specialist business management diploma.  He then studied at London School of Economics, specialising in productivity. It was productivity that Alistair believed was the most important single feature that distinguished GE from all other companies in the world.

Alistair joined Unilever and worked for them in England for a year, after which, with Helen pregnant, they decided to return to SA.  In 1966 Alistair started to work for GE in Benoni. 1966 was also the year that Catherine was born. It was the year the architect of Apartheid, Verwoerd, was stabbed to death in Parliament and Cyril Ramophosa was 14 years old, growing up in Soweto.

In 1975 Alistair was transferred by GE to their headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut and a few years later to Miami, Florida where Alistair joined the Latin American division of GE.

In 1981 the family moved to Buenos Aires Argentina where Catherine learnt to speak Spanish and Alistair received a special G.E Management Award.

Ronald Reagan became USA president and Prince Charles married Princess Diana.

A year later, in 1982, Argentina invaded what they called the Malvinas Islands and Britain called the Falkland Islands, provoking a war with the UK, during which the family briefly became refugees in Uruguay.

In 1983 the family returned to the USA where Alistair headed up the GE International Trade Corporation in NY.  Whilst there, Alistair hosted a South African trade delegation on behalf of GE, greeting the South Africans in English, Afrikaans, and in Venda. One of those in the delegation, who came up to speak to him afterwards, was Cyril Ramophosa, a fellow Venda-speaker. They were to remain friends to the day Alistair died.

In 1986, aged 49, Alistair and Helen relocated to Saudi Arabia where he was appointed GE’s Vice President for the Middle East, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe.

This was the year in which GE formally left South Africa in opposition to Apartheid.

In Riyadh, the wife of the GE vice president learnt to make homemade wine in a plastic jerrycan, using grape juice, yeast and sugar which she then syphoned into the screw-top grape juice bottles.

Alistair went on to win various awards from GE including a certificate in recognition of his leadership of the GE team during the Gulf war. Some 10 years later Alistair became GE President of an area that included the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Russia, and India, making Alistair one of the top managers in the world.

Alistair retired from GE in 2000 and received GE Honours for outstanding contribution, faithful service & dedication.

Almost 20 years earlier in 1981 when Alistair first went to Argentina, GE had a market value of $ 12 billion. When Alistair retired, GE had a market value of $410 billion, 35 times more. Over this same period, GE made 600 acquisitions and Alistair participated in more than 150 of these.

In 2001, after retiring, Alistair and Helen relocated to South Africa, Catherine married David, here at the Country Club and former President Nelson Mandela said that " Cyril Ramophosa has been the architect of the modern South Africa ... He would be one of the right people to lead South Africa."

For the next 17 years Alistair dedicated himself to mentoring young CEO’s throughout the world, and farming at Molozi. He started Macadamia nut farming as only he would do. He looked at the world output, the world demand, and then he travelled to every major nut producing country and met with the local nut growing associations. He argued for a global marketing collaboration to drive Macadamia nuts, focusing especially on their health qualities. He learnt what were the best practices in world for growing Macadamia nuts, and then he systematically implemented every one of these best practices at Molozi.

Alistair was the corporate face of a partnership, and for over 50 years Helen was his mainstay, his other half.  He relied upon her strength and support in a myriad of ways. She never let him down, yet always remained her own person.

After GE, Alistair and Helen spent half their time in South Africa and the other half in Scotland at Loch Lomond Castle, on the banks of Loch Lomond. Alistair liked to entertain, taking great pleasure in greeting every person at a social event, with questions designed to draw out their achievements and interests.  He loved singing, and whatever the event, loved to get his guests singing songs.   Wherever he was in the world, he enjoyed watching South African rugby matches on TV, particularly relishing the singing of the South African National Anthem. 

Alistair was a private person, like many of his generation. He lived a modest life. He ate carefully, under Helen’s guidance, barely ever drank alcohol, wore some of his shirts until they frayed, and never splurged on material things, as anyone who visited Molozi can confirm. At their flat on Linksfield Ridge he was a dab hand on the snooker table, and he was a man who never failed to pick up the tab at a restaurant.

Alistair died suddenly on the 6th of September 2018 in Scotland. In this year Cyril Ramophosa became the president of South Africa. France won the world soccer cup in Russia, and Prince Harry married US actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle.

Source: Murray Stewart

Leonard Seimon (1933-2018)

Dr Leonard “Lenny” Seimon passed away on 19 September 2018, his 85th birthday. A gentle patriarch, he lived a magnificent life — one of joy, accomplishment, and boundless generosity, all infused with his irrepressible humour. Dr Seimon was born in Krugersdorp, South Africa. He earned his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBCh) degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1955, at the age of 22. He played water polo for Wits and proudly represented South Africa on the gold medal-winning team at the 1953 Maccabi Games in Israel. He subsequently became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, and received his Masters in Orthopaedic Surgery in Liverpool, England in 1961. Dr. Seimon continued his training at Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, England. After 2 years in New York as Assistant Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Instructor at Jacobi Hospital, he returned to Durban where he established a thriving private practice and taught at the medical school. He was a champion for the underserved in Lesotho, as well as the impoverished townships and destitute homelands around Durban, performing thousands of surgeries at no cost to patients. He had a special bond with Umlazi Mission Hospital, Eshowe Hospital, McCord (TB) Hospital and King Edward VIII Hospital, home of the medical school. He returned to Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Hospital in New York in 1978, becoming Professor of Orthopaedics and Professor of Paediatrics, and Chief of the Spine and Paediatric Orthopaedics services. He was recognized on multiple occasions as an outstanding teacher and mentor by medical students, residents, and faculty alike. In June 2015, he retired after 37 years on the faculty. Dr. Seimon was a giant in the field of Paediatric Orthopaedics. In Valhalla, New York, he served on the Blythedale Children’s Hospital medical team for 31 years — as Chief of Orthopedics for many years, and for three terms as President of the Medical Staff. Dr Seimon was published extensively in the Orthopaedic literature and was a frequent speaker at Orthopaedic meetings around the world. He was the author of two editions of Low Back Pain: Clinical Diagnosis and Management published in 1983 and 1995. Beloved by his patients and their families for his calm and reassuring manner, Dr Seimon treated thousands of patients with expert and compassionate care. He taught a generation of orthopaedic residents not only the fine art of surgery, but also the importance of a thorough history and physical exam. They would quote him, imitating his distinct accent: “You have to talk to the patient, the patient will tell you what’s wrong!” This mantra had broad reach among the hundreds of orthopaedic surgeons, paediatricians, neurologists, physiotherapists, chiropractors and more that he trained; they adored him. Dr Seimon was a wonderful physician, mentor, and humanitarian. He was respected for his leadership, clinical skills, and mild manner — of course, all infused with his irrepressible humour. He is survived by Sandra, his wife of 58 years, his sister Wilma Shein of Johannesburg, his children Jon-Marc, Simone, Anton and Tamsyn, their spouses and 6 grandchildren.

Source: Seimon family

Aaron Reuben Levin (1929-2018)

Aaron Reuben Levin (March 19, 1929 – May 17, 2018)

BSc ’48, MBBCh ’53, MD ‘69

Aaron R Levin was born on March 19, 1929.  He matriculated from Vereeninging High School at the age of 15 and began at Wits amongst much older classmates; many of whom had returned from service in World War II. He received a Bachelor of Science in 1948 and an MBBCh in 1953. He completed his internship at Edenvale Hospital and his registrarship at Coronation Hospital. In 1962, Dr. Levin became a member of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, Scotland. He worked at Charing Cross Hospital in London before returning to Johannesburg where he worked in private practice as a pediatrician.

In 1963, Dr. Levin emigrated to the United States with his wife, Lenore Zhita Gladstone (MBBCh Wits ’56) and three young children. He met Dr. Gladstone in 1951 at Bikkur Cholim camp where he worked as the camp doctor.

In the US, Dr. Levin completed a fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. It was during this time that he developed his devotion to research and the management of children with congenital heart disease. This passion continued during the years following his fellowship at the New York Hospital/Cornell University Medical Center. He was a pioneer in interventional pediatric cardiology, developing and teaching techniques for diagnostic and palliative catheterization in children with congenital heart disease. In recognition of this innovative work, he was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He became a Professor of Pediatric Cardiology at Cornell University Medical College. He held the position of Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization for 29 years. During this time, He authored over 80 publications, and lectured internationally as well as in the US. In 1969, he was awarded an MD at Wits in recognition of his research in pediatric cardiology. He also was raised to the position of Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

After his tenure at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center, he was welcomed to the Department of Pediatric Cardiology at Westchester Medical Center and appointed Professor at New York Medical College. He served in the position of consultant for 20 years before retiring from medicine at the age 85. Dr. Levin made a significant and lasting imprint on the specialty of Pediatric Cardiology, one of its pioneers. He is remembered by the children and their families that he cared for, many of whom stayed in touch with him until his death. 

Dr. Levin is survived by his wife of 63 years, Lenore, as well as his children Sheryl R Levin MD, Terry L Levin (Miller) MD, Serle K Levin MD, and his nine grandchildren. He was immensely proud of his children, each of whom graduated from Cornell University Medical School. At each graduation, he was honored to participate in the faculty processional proudly donning his Witswatersrand gown and hoods.

Margot Becklake: looking back on a forward-thinking occupational health proponent

MB BCh Wits (1944), MD (1951), FRCP UK (1972); CM (Member of the Order of Canada) (2007), GOQ (Order of Quebec) (2011)

Margot (Margaret) Becklake - inspirational teacher, exceptional mentor, internationally-acclaimed epidemiologist, and philosopher and ethicist - passed away on 17 October last year, at the age of 96.

Margot was born in London but moved to South Africa at an early age, and studied medicine at Wits. After graduating in 1944, she moved to London to do a postgraduate degree in respiratory medicine. In 1949, she married Maurice McGregor - a young doctor whom she had met in England three years earlier. The following year, they returned to South Africa and Margot was employed as a lecturer at Wits. In 1954 she accepted a position as a physiologist at what was then called the Pneumoconiosis Bureau, in Johannesburg, where she began her research on respiratory diseases in gold miners. At the Bureau, she had access to the annual clinical and chest X-ray records of almost half a million gold miners - an invaluable source of material for an epidemiologist. She published her first research paper in 19481 and her last, 62 years later, in 2010.2 Margot was instrumental in getting COPD legislated as an occupational disease so that affected mine workers could get financial compensation. Until then, silicosis was the only compensable occupational diseases in miners.  

When Maurice accepted a position as a cardiologist at McGill University in 1957, he and Margot emigrated to Canada.  There, Margot worked in the Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal, and at the Montréal Chest Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital. Margot returned to South Africa for a brief period from 1984 to 1985, while on sabbatical leave from McGill.

She was appointed as Head of the newly formed Epidemiology Unit at the National Centre for Occupational Health (now the National Institute for Occupational Health), where she mentored several young scientists, including Danuta Kielkowski, Freddy Sitas and Gill Nelson.

Despite moving back to Canada, Margot maintained her African connections. She continued to guide graduate students from Kenya; collaborated with colleagues from the Kenya Medical Research Institute in research in asthma in Kenyan school children; and enthusiastically participated as a Visiting Professor at institutes such as at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa. She was also a regular contributor to the respiratory epidemiology courses sponsored by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in sub-Saharan Africa, from 1995 to 2002. An additional focus was to facilitate the publication, in the English scientific literature, of papers from researchers living in low income countries.

While at McGill, she was also Director of the Summer Programme in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from 1987 to 2003, which attracted local, national and international registration (including South Africans whom she had mentored). When she retired, Margot was Emeritus Professor with appointments in the Departments of Medicine, and of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health.

Margot was held in high regard, as evidenced by the many awards and honours that she received in recognition of her contribution to respiratory medicine and epidemiology. Her more recent award from the Tubercle Society, for mentoring, is testament to her innate ability to mentor young scientists, instilling enthusiasm and training them to think as epidemiologists.

She equipped those of us who were fortunate to be her mentees, with enquiring minds, and supported the research efforts of dozens of other would-be epidemiologists, worldwide. Her South African formal MSc and PhD students included Anthony Zwi, Khathatso Mokoetle, Umesh Lalloo, Sharon Fonn, Freddy and Rajen Naidoo, all who went on to excel.

During an interview in 2004, she said: “I would urge new epidemiologists to become involved in what you think are the important questions. Concentrate on the ‘why’ of what you are studying, not so much on the ‘how’. The methods can nearly always be worked out. Concentrate on the importance of the research question” [Margot Becklake, Epidemiology, 2004].

Many of the (then young) researchers subsequently excelled in their own research careers, at ‘home’ in South Africa (Rodney Ehrlich, David Rees, Umesh Lalloo, Rajen Naidoo) or further afield in Australia (Freddy Sitas, Anthony Zwi) and other countries.  

Her ‘apprentices’ did not go unappreciated. She was inclusive when publishing, gladly giving the glory of ‘first author’ to her trainees when she had drafted a paper. Many of us published our first scientific papers with Margot as the senior author. Her South African co-authors included Tony Davies, Susan Landau, Gill Nelson, Malcolm Steinberg, Les Irwig, Danuta Kielkowski, Ian Webster, Magda de Beer, Clifford Goldsmith C, Pat Hessel, Ruth Mkhwelo R, Khathatso Mokoetle, Freddy Sitas, Umesh Lalloo, Neil White, Sharon Fonn.

It is impossible to pay tribute to this wonderful, elegant and intelligent ‘woman of science’ in such a limited space. As Tony Davies put it, “If one starts to make a list of what we would say about her it is like starting a book”. 

We thank Margot’s family, mentees and colleagues for contributing to this article and sharing their memories. 
By Gill Nelson and Sharon Fonn


Obituaries 2017

Allan Nestadt (1924-2017)

Paediatrician Dr Allan Nestadt (MBBCh 1948) died in Israel in August 2017, aged 92.   

Even at school, it would seem, Allan’s sights were set on becoming a doctor. He had an arrangement with the ambulance authorities in his home town of Benoni – where his father Morris was mayor – that when possible he would accompany them to medical emergencies. Having matriculated from Benoni High, he attended Wits and did his registrarship at the Boksburg-Benoni Hospital. In 1950 he took up residence in the UK, where he worked at the Sheffield and Birmingham Children’s Hospitals and the Bangour General Hospital in Edinburgh. In 1953, he obtained his MRCP (Edin).

Returning home, he was the paediatric registrar at the Johannesburg General, Coronation and Baragwanath Hospitals. In 1960 he moved to Durban, where for 18 years he ran a large private practice as a paediatric consultant. At the same time, he held the appointment of part-time consultant at the Addington Children’s Hospital. The SA Medical Journal and The Lancet published numerous research papers of his on children's illnesses.

In 1955 he married Rebecca Kronik, who had been the secretary of the Wits Student Medical Council, and they had four children. In 1979 they emigrated to Israel, where he continued in private practice as a child specialist in Tel Aviv until his retirement.

He is survived by his children and numerous grand- and great-grandchildren. Rebecca passed away 12 years ago. Allan’s twin brother Stanley, a chartered accountant who lived in San Diego, passed away in January 2018. His youngest brother, Harry (BA 1951, LLB 1954), a retired judge of the South African Supreme Court of Appeal, lives in Sydney. Their brother Gerald (BA 1940), aged 96, lives in Benoni.

Allan will be remembered as a credit to his profession. He had an abiding sense of concern for his patients and above all for his family.

Sources: Benoni City Times 22 August 2017; Harry Nestadt; Sandy Heymann


Arthur Magerman 1933 – 2017

Arthur Magerman (BA 1971) was born in Johannesburg’s Alexandra Township, the son of Joey Magerman and Khatazane Mkhwanazi, and attended the Holy Cross Mission school in Alexandra, matriculating in 1952.

His grandparents were among the first property owners in Alexandra, one of a few places in white cities where black people enjoyed this privilege. He embodied the complex politics of Alexandra, influenced by socialist ideas of the mid-20th century and a deep commitment to this unique space in Johannesburg. In the mid-1950s Magerman was part of a group of young intellectual activists, including Dan Mokonyane, Lawrence and Ethan Mayisela and Simon Noge, who had become critical of the ANC’s politics. They were attracted to socialist ideas and came under the influence of Wits University academic Vincent Swart, who established a local branch of the international socialist organisation, Movement for a Democracy of Content. This organisation, led by Mokonyane, played a leading role in the famous Alexandra bus boycott of 1957 against fare increases. Magerman is said to have walked the 14km each way between Alex and Wits, every day for a month.

In the late 1970s Magerman worked closely with Reverend Sam Buti and Leepile Taunyane in the Save Alexandra Campaign against the apartheid government’s plan to destroy the township. Their success led them to form the Save Alexandra Party, which won the local elections and controlled the township council in the early 1980s.

His son Masimo-a-Badimo says the family sheltered anti-apartheid activists and helped them to leave South Africa to join Umkhonto weSizwe, the ANC’s armed wing. “Our homes in Mmabatho and Alexandra were not only safe houses but weapon storage facilities and transit posts for MKs coming and leaving the country. Marion Sparg, Arnold Geyer and Damian de Lange were the first white people I had seen in our house. He was not shy of using his family to do runs across the border, and would frequently use my young brother, Eugene (currently a doctor in Canada) and I to accompany him to get weapons in and out of Botswana. We provided the perfect father-and-son cover so the border gate soldiers were never suspicious. My elder brother Errol (now in the Gauteng government) worked very closely with him and he was of an age to take more risk. Errol had made a conscious decision to join the underground movement, and he would be one of my dad’s couriers in and out of Botswana and Swaziland.”

Magerman remained active in a number of organisations involved in the development of Alexandra and between 2003 and 2008 served on a history and heritage committee, with other veterans of the township, which collaborated with the History Workshop in researching and writing the history of Alexandra.

“My father was a selfless man who did everything out of principle, never for self-gain or advancing his career. He did it out of great sense of justice, a visceral calling to help those less fortunate,” says Masimo.

Magerman loved Sundowns football club and played golf. He leaves his wife, Gabafiwe Dorothy, and four sons, Errol, Masimo-a-Badimo, Stanley and Eugene.

Cecil Michelow 1925–2017

Maurice Cecil Michelow (MBBCh 1948) died on 20 January 2017 in Springfield, Massachusetts, aged 91. The son of Sara and Harry Michelow, he was born in Johannesburg in 1925 and attended Jeppe Boys’ High School.

He was a pioneer of in vitro fertilisation in South Africa and was internationally acclaimed for assisting a 47-year-old woman to carry triplets for her own daughter in 1987. This was the world’s first mother/daughter surrogate pregnancy.

Dr Michelow once explained how he had come to specialise in this field: in his final year of training at the Medical School, Dr GP Charlewood asked him to help for six weeks as an intern in the temporarily understaffed Gynaecology Department at the newly opened Baragwanath Hospital. After final exams, he returned there and was so busy that he had to ask for permission to attend his graduation. “That seven month internship was the happiest time of my life. I chose obstetrics and gynaecology as my future life’s work.” In 1960 he took on duties at the Infertility Clinic at the Johannesburg General Hospital when its chief consultant resigned. This was a time of many advances in the treatment of infertility, and presented an interesting new field of work. Research flourished after the birth of the world’s first “test-tube baby”, in 1978.

In 2004, Dr Michelow and his wife Berenice moved to the USA to be closer to their family. He was a keen photographer and loved reading and discussing current world events.

He is survived by Berenice (Davis), their sons Bryan and Ian, daughter Diane and their families, who remember him as “a vibrant, brilliant, compassionate and gentle family man with a great sense of humour”.

Cyril Evian (1948–2017)

Dr Cyril Ian Evian (BDS 1971) died in Philadelphia, USA, on 26 January 2017. He studied, taught and undertook research in periodontics and implant dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and continued to teach after starting his own practice in 1986. He had a passion for teaching and for learning, saying: “I believe you become a great teacher when you understand what students need to develop and grow.” This skill was recognised when UPenn and New York University gave him teaching awards. He also taught at the University of Maryland and Temple University. His family has set up an education fund for dental students, saying: “Education was his obligation, and now we will make it his gift… With immense pride and honour we will give the proceeds in his name to a student that needs a little help from the Cy Guy.”

One of his favourite quotes was: “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.”

One online tribute called him “the consummate mensch … selfless, hilarious, and wise”.

He leaves his former wife, Andrea Evian, and children Allon Hellmann, Samantha Zemble, Tracy Waasdorp, Debra Chesbrough, and Michael Evian.


David Pettifor (1945-2017)

Physicist David Pettifor (BSc Hons 1967; CBE, FRS) died in October 2017, having changed the way a great deal of materials science is now done.

He was a pioneer of mathematical descriptions, based on quantum theory, of how atoms interact in materials used in technology. He devised “structure maps” of elements which allowed alloy designers to create alloys suitable for jet engines. His vision of modelling materials across length scales involving engineers, materials scientists, physicists and chemists raised the status of theory and modelling in materials science and made the subject less empirical. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1994 and awarded a CBE for services to science in 2005.

David was born in the UK and came to Johannesburg as a young child. He and his twin brother John Pettifor (MBBCh 1968, PhD 1980, DMed honoris causa 2017), who became a distinguished paediatrician and Wits professor, attended St John’s College. David found that maths came naturally to him. He wanted to study chemical engineering at Wits but was persuaded to read physics, which he did under Prof Frank Nabarro FRS, who set the tone for what was expected of a good scientist.

He was involved in several student societies and councils at Wits, and in 1965, at a time of increased political ferment, was elected onto the Executive Committee of the Student Representative Council. He was also a member of the Anglican Students Federation. 

After achieving a first with his Wits degree, he went to Cambridge for his PhD, where he performed some of the first computations that began to explain crystal structures of transition metals. In the early 1970s he was uncertain whether to pursue a scientific career in Britain or to be involved in something more overtly social and political. He decided to teach physics at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania for two years, believing at this time that the primary role of scientists in developing countries should be education from primary school to university, in order to build up a scientific base.

He worked in the Mathematical Physics group at Imperial College between 1978 and 1992, where he developed some of his most original ideas including the structure maps. In 1992 he took up the Isaac Wolfson Professorship of Metallurgy at Oxford. Although he had pioneered some of the largest computations he always insisted that computing power is no substitute for good ideas, and he firmly held to Einstein’s maxim “as simple as possible, but not simpler”. There he established the World’s first Materials Modelling Laboratory, which attracted many distinguished visitors.

He played a key role in setting up a partnership between the Royal Society and the National Research Foundation in South Africa, following Nelson Mandela’s release, to help set up centres of excellence in previously black universities, including a Materials Modelling Centre at the University of Limpopo. Despite a constant battle with multiple myeloma for the last 20 years, he returned to South Africa many times to continue this work. 

David met his first wife, Ann (born Potgieter, BA 1971), at Wits and they had two sons, Thomas and Christopher. After their divorce he married Di Gold, a stained glass artist, who also had two sons, Matthew and Benjamin, and they lived in the Cotswolds with their four sons.

Source: Prof Adrian Sutton

Desmond Bond (1941-2017)

Desmond Harvey Bond had the unusual accomplishment of being a chemical engineer and a writer and translator. He grew up in Johannesburg and attended King Edward VII School, where he did well in Latin, singing, mathematics and sport. Later in life he became a competitive swimmer, and he always loved music. He qualified in engineering at Wits in 1966, then obtained an MSc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas and an MA in English at the University of North Texas. He worked as a specialist in engineering and the environment, managing projects in many countries. He had lived in Mobile, Alabama, since 2005 and was married for nearly 47 years to Ann Lillian Snyder Bond, who survives him.

Esmé Berman (1929-2017)

The art historian Esmé Berman (born Cohen) (BA 1950; BA Hons) was one of the “Wits group” of 1948-1950 who studied art under Professor Heather Martienssen. (The group included Cecil Skotnes, Christo Coetzee, Larry Scully and Nel Erasmus.) She went on to produce a comprehensive work, Art and Artists of South Africa (first published in 1970 and followed by several editions), which contains biographical detail on artists and information on related subjects such as art associations and museums. Much of the information was generated by her original research and personal meetings with artists around the country. The first of its kind in South Africa, the book remains a standard reference source, widely used by scholars and learners and praised for its accessible style. Berman generously lodged the research papers and archives relating to this work – an invaluable national resource – with Wits’ Historical Papers.

She also wrote The Story of South African Painting (1975, updated in 1993). In 2010 she published Alexis Preller: Africa, the Sun and Shadows, a book accompanying a major exhibition curated by Berman and Professor Karel Nel, and offering fresh analyses and interpretations of Preller’s work. She continued to write in her 80s, producing monographs on Walter Battiss, Maggie Laubser, Irma Stern and Hendrik Pierneef.

The University conferred an honorary DLitt degree on Berman in 2016 in recognition of her contribution to the history of art in South Africa. In a newspaper interview, she called this an “utterly unexpected but unequalled accolade”. Speaking about the graduation ceremony, she said: “The mix of the South African anthem with the Latin anthem of my alma mater was indeed a deeply moving moment.”

Berman studied for her Honours degree in Psychology at the same time as her BA in Fine Arts.

In 2014 she wrote for the Wits Review: “My student years at Wits – 1946 to 1950 – spanned a uniquely self-contained chapter in the University’s history.  I describe the era as ‘unique’ and ‘self-contained’, because, for those four post-WWII years, campus demographics and character were conspicuously affected by the massive influx of ex-servicemen, impatient to make up for the ‘lost time’ spent in military service, and hugely disdainful of the ‘juvenile’ antics of their teen-aged fellow-freshers…

“At the outset, such frivolity was scornfully dismissed by the jaded old-young veterans, in their macho khaki bunny jackets and clunking army boots. And within the grossly overcrowded halls of academe, the volatile convergence of two such incompatible groups seemed precariously unpromising. Yet, by virtue of some kind of campus alchemy, each faction benefited from encounter with the other, and their integration generated a creative dynamism that was probably unequalled in any other period in the history of Wits.”

She wrote that 27 May 1948 was the opening night of The University Players’ production of Jean Paul Sartre’s The Flies, in which she was playing Electra. “During the intermission between the second and third acts, from portable radios amid the audience – which was anxiously awaiting results of the previous day’s General Election – came the news: that Jan Smuts, leader of the ruling United Party, had lost his seat. From that moment onward, for almost the entire second half of the 20th Century, South Africa was forced to endure the imposition of the oppressive ideology of apartheid. 

“For Wits, that election was a turning point. Students of the era spent their university years on both sides of the historical divide.”

After furthering her education in the UK, Berman founded and directed the Children’s Art Centre in Johannesburg and taught physically disabled and underprivileged children. She herself had been born blind in one eye.

In addition to her writing and broadcasting, she lectured at Wits and UCT, acted as a consultant and adviser to the Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation and the Gertrude Posel Gallery (precursor of the Wits Art Museum), and chaired the Johannesburg Art Gallery Jubilee Committee. Her contribution to establishing the Cape Town Trienniale helped to launch the careers of artists like William Kentridge, Penny Siopis and Karel Nel. Her efforts also brought the work of masters like Rodin to South Africa.

In 1971 she founded the Art Institute South Africa, built its Audiovisual Centre in 1978 and in 1984 launched The Patrons’ Trust.

When her husband Hi became Mayor of Sandton, she took on the role of Mayoress. From 1987, the couple lived in Los Angeles, and she lectured at the University of California, the Parsons School of Design and the University of Judaism. They returned in 2002, just before Hi died. Her son David and daughter Kathy survive her; her son Russell died in 1973.

A book about her is in production.

Esmé Joubert (1923-2017)

Elsbeth Rita (Esmé) Joubert (born du Preez) (MBBCh 1947) was the daughter of a station master and housewife in Nuy, near Worcester in the Western Cape.    She matriculated in 1940 at Helpmekaar School in Johannesburg and won a scholarship to study medicine at Wits. She married Mauritius Joubert (MBBCh 1947) and they both specialised in neurology. They started the neurosurgical department at Wentworth Hospital in Durban and Dr Mauritius started the Brown School for children with epilepsy. He also headed the neurology department at Ga-Rankuwa Hospital, now named Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital. They had a daughter and three sons, of whom one, Professor Jacques Joubert, is a neurologist in Australia. Dr Mauritius died some years ago and Dr Esme in June 2017, in George, aged 94.

Source: George Herald

Fay Segal (1921-2017)

Professor Fay Segal (MBBCh 1944, DSc Med 1955) was born in Johannesburg and had a remarkable life as a physician at Baragwanath Hospital and Wits Medical School. Through her work, she was a pioneer and advocate for women and civil rights.

She was Principal Specialist Physician in the Department of Medicine at Baragwanath Hospital and Wits from 1954 to 1987. She inaugurated the cardiac unit at Baragwanath in 1955 and was in charge of the diabetic clinic for 10 years. She became an Associate Professor in 1973. She was an exceptional clinician, highly respected by her colleagues in all spheres of clinical and academic practice. Her opinion was frequently sought and valued by other senior physicians. She was actively involved in teaching nurses, medical students and postgraduate students and was an examiner for the College of Physicians of South Africa. She published extensively and co-authored a textbook on congenital heart disease with Professor Leo Schamroth.

Professor Segal was honoured with a War Medal and an Africa Service Medal as she served as a Captain in the Fulltime Volunteer Forces in the South African Medical Corps during World War II.   

She married Louis Hirsowitz (MBBCh 1940, DSc Med 1948), who died in 1994. Upon emigrating to the United States to be closer to her family, Professor Segal volunteered as an instructor in the English as a Second Language programme at a local public school in Brookline, Massachusetts and at the Congregation Kehilleth Israel Nursery School. She died in November 2017, aged 96.

Described as a dignified, kind, humble and elegant soul, she is survived by her sons Dr David Hirsowitz (BDS 1975) and Dr Geoffrey Hirsowitz (MBBCh 1975), who both live in the US, and their families. Her sister Sylvia Navon lives in Herzlia, Israel.

Source: Geoffrey Hirsowitz

George Turck (1918-2017)

George Turck (BSc 1949) was one of Wits’ “Donga Doctors” – the special cohort of students who were trained in soil conservation at Frankenwald after they served in World War 2. There were 118 of these graduates.

George served in North Africa and Italy. He was one of the last South Africans to escape from Tobruk in 1941 and fought at El Alamein. After graduating, he worked in what was then Rhodesia for some years and returned to South Africa in 1965. He continued to work in irrigation and agriculture for the Sugar Association and Murray & Roberts (Agricultural Management Service in Lebowa) and was involved in agricultural aerial surveying with the Aircraft Operating Service. In his long career he worked with many of the old Donga Docs, including Reg Loxton, Tony Venn and John Harper.

George grew up in Cape Town and was an expert mountain climber who knew the Cape Peninsula well. While still in Europe after the war, he climbed the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa.

He died in Hout Bay, aged 98, leaving his wife Mary and children Pippa (BSc 1973), Fred and Margie.

The Wits soil conservation programme was set up by Professor John Phillips and became known irreverently as “Prof Phillips’ Marriage Bureau”, as all three of his daughters married ex-servicemen on the course. Mary married George Turck, Jean married Bill Paterson and Marjorie married Ken Birkett. “This made for very happy family gatherings for us cousins as all the uncles knew each other well!” says Pippa.

(Sources: Sentinel News, 14 July 2017; Wits: The Open Years, Bruce K Murray; Pippa Greensmith)

Gilbert Herbert (1924-2017)

Professor Gilbert Herbert (BArch 1947, MArch 1955, DArch honoris causa 1986), fondly known as Gil, was an outstanding architectural historian. Born in Johannesburg and educated at Parktown Boys’ High School, he was a prize-winning student at Wits and on several occasions received the accolade “Scholar of the University”.

On graduation he was offered a teaching post at the University, converted later that year to a full-time permanent lectureship. At the end of 1949 he received a special South African government scholarship to study systems of architectural education, and spent 1950 at the Bartlett School, the Architectural Association, the University of Liverpool, Columbia University, Harvard and the MIT. He was later awarded his Master’s degree for the dissertation “Academic Education in Architecture.” In 1951 he completed his studies for the postgraduate Diploma in Town Planning. In 1969 he obtained the degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy from the University of South Africa.

In Johannesburg Prof. Herbert continued his academic career, while at the same time maintaining a modest architectural practice. Most of his work was residential, but two major buildings were the unique Cinerama Theatre, and –as part of a team – the John Moffat Building, which housed the School of Architecture and Fine Arts.

The most prestigious South African architectural award was the Sir Herbert Baker Scholarship, awarded every four years. Herbert was named a Baker Scholar for 1957, and was required to divide the year between Italy and England. Four months were spent in Rome, mainly at the British School at Rome, and two months exploring the architecture of Europe, from Sicily to the Channel coast.

In 1961 Herbert was offered a senior academic post at the University of Adelaide in Australia, where he spent several fruitful years. While on a sabbatical in Europe in 1966 he visited Israel and established contact with the architectural school at the Technion.

When the Herberts returned to Israel in 1968 he was offered a post at the school, which at the time was in a state of turmoil. Herbert’s personality and academic distinction soon earned him the respect of his peers and in a few years he became Dean of the Faculty.

As head of the architectural school at the Technion he was a popular teacher of modern architectural history. Thousands of students enjoyed the benefit of his broad knowledge and systematic teaching. His career is studded with awards and accolades in South Africa, Australia and Israel, and generous praise from such leading figures as Walter Gropius, John Habraken, Lewis Mumford and Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

When in 1997 the Technion celebrated Herbert’s 50th year as a teacher and researcher, it produced a volume of his collected writings (The Search for Synthesis – The Jubilee Edition). He retired in 1993 but continued his creative output, and his tenth book was published in his 89th year. In 2015 the Faculty of Architecture at the Technion organised a public function celebrating Professor Herbert’s life and achievements.

He died aged 93 in Haifa, leaving his wife Valerie (Ryan) and daughter Margaret (Margalit) Boeangiu. His son Barry died in 1977 in a car accident.

Gil’s obituary in the Royal Institute of British Architects Journal says: “Herbert’s intellectual brilliance was conjoined with a warm, engaging, and affable personality, remarkable administrative and leadership skills, an indefatigable work ethic, and wisdom.”

Sources: Harry Brand; Artefacts; Israelink; RIBA Journal; Family history document

Graham Williamson (1932-2017)

In the May 2017 issue of Wits Review, we featured a book by Graham and Franoise Williamson, The Sperrgebiet: Nature’s Past Masterpiece. Graham passed away on 12 October 2017.

Born in what was Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, he spent his early years on a smallholding, surrounded by unspoilt nature. He started his secondary schooling at Prince Edward School in 1945. Every year he received the form prize for science projects, including “The Birds of the Salisbury District” and “The Microscopic Life of the Makabusi River”. Though he was interested in a career in the natural sciences, he decided to study dentistry at Wits. He was on the House Committee at Cottesloe Residence and, having organised a res dance with the teachers’ training college freshers, met Franoise Clerc there. He moved to Phineas Court in 1956 and married Franoise in his third year. As a student he was also a keen athlete and rugby player, and remained fit all his life, playing competitive squash.

He graduated BDS in 1957 and started his working life in Bulawayo, later moving to Zambia, where he helped build up the dentistry profession. In his spare time he pursued his parallel interest in natural history, producing the book The Orchids of South Central Africa. He regularly visited the UK to keep his dentistry knowledge up to date and used the opportunity to do work at Kew on his botanical projects.

In 1976 the Williamsons moved to Oranjemund, Namibia, where Graham was the dental surgeon and did pioneering work on dental headache. The couple’s studies of the area’s natural history resulted in the Sperrgebiet book. Graham earned a Wits MSc in 1986 for his work on Zambia’s orchids.

He leaves Franoise and their four daughters.

Hertha de Villiers  (1924-2017)

The death of Professor Hertha de Villiers (Graf) (MSc 1957, PhD 1963) signals the end of an era for South African anatomy, physical anthropology and forensic science.

She was an inspirational teacher and researcher in two of the University’s Anatomy Departments, and an authority in anthropology and forensic science. Her interest in living people and interdisciplinary research resulted in the production of a statistical and genetics-based analysis of morphology, which had never before been accomplished.

She obtained a first-class BSc at the University of Cape Town and then became a Research Assistant in the Bilharzia Research Unit at the South African Institute for Medical Research.

Professor Raymond Dart the appointed her as a technical assistant in the Department of Anatomy at Wits’ Medical School, where she was involved in the making and painting of facial casts and worked extensively on the department’s skeletal collections.

In 1954 she published three articles which were accepted for a BSc Honours equivalent, and she was appointed as a lecturer in 1956. Her MSc followed in 1957. She was awarded a PhD in 1963 for a thesis entitled: “A biometrical and morphological study of the skull of the South African Bantu-speaking people”.  It was published as a book by the University of the Witwatersrand Press in 1968, entitled The Skull of the South African Negro, and was highly cited.

In Darwin’s Hunch, Christa Kuljian writes that this study was “groundbreaking in the sense that she concluded there were no distinguishing features between different cultural or tribal groups. … One of the most striking features about Hertha de Villiers was that she brought rigour and statistical analysis to her science. In addition, despite her lab coat, she carried a sense of glamour and sophistication.”

Her work on archaeological sites introduced her to the field of forensic science, and her work on anatomical differences and similarities contributed a great deal to this discipline in South Africa.   

In 1972, she was appointed as Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy. In 1974 she was transferred to the Department of General Anatomy in the Faculty of Dentistry, where she remained until her early retirement in 1984.

She was a role model to many students of anatomy, neuroanatomy, forensic anthropology, genetics and human biology.

In 1992 a festschrift was published in her honour: Variation, Culture and Evolution in African Populations.

Professor Hertha de Villiers is survived by her son and daughter and their families.

Jerry Steele (1931-2017)

Jerrold Turner (Jerry) Steele, a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Finance and Administration of Wits University, was born in Boksburg and went to school at Christian Brothers Colleges in Kimberley and Boksburg. He completed the Certificate in the Theory of Accountancy (1953) and obtained a BCom (1961) and MCom (1966) from Wits. In 2009 the University conferred an honorary DCom on him for his service to financial management in higher education.

He was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Accounting at Wits in 1956, but his interest in information technology gave his career a new direction. He became Director of the University’s Computer Centre and, in 1976, Professor of Applied Mathematics and of Applied Information Processing.

Serving on the Education Committee of the Public Accountants’ and Auditors’ Board, he oversaw the quality of the education and training of articled clerks at universities. He introduced the concept of “academic articles”, whereby trainee accountants could spend part of their articles at university as tutors and junior lecturers. His specialist computer knowledge influenced the education of accountants and the profession itself.

He served Wits as Dean of the Faculty of Commerce between 1979 and 1984 and thereafter for nine years as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Finance and Administration. 

Due to his careful and visionary stewardship, the University’s financial position was stronger than that of many South African universities when he retired, despite the pressure imposed by conditions at the time. He was a strong proponent of transparency, well before this became a trend in governance, and developed the University’s first Executive Information System.

In retirement, he played a major role in the higher education sector on matters of governance, financial management and reporting.

Professor Steele captained the Wits Staff XI and played squash.

He is survived by his wife Professor Margaret Steele (BAcc 1980), former head of the School of Accountancy (1987-1995), and their three children, who are all Wits graduates.

Joan Wagner (1927-2017)

Dr Joan Mary Wagner (MBBCh 1949) was an outstanding clinician who had been associated with the Department of Paediatrics for over 50 years, starting at the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children (TMH), then at the Johannesburg Hospital. She also trained at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London.

She was in line to succeed Dr Israel Kessel as Consultant Paediatrician at TMH in 1965, but was pregnant with her twins and the post went to Prof Solly Levin.

Joan maintained her interest in general paediatrics by continuing to do ward rounds long after her retirement age. She is remembered with affection by the more junior doctors for not only her clinical skill and her caring attitude to the patients but also for the care she took of the registrars and housemen by providing them with emotional support and food after the ward rounds.

She was the mother of “developmental paediatrics” in South Africa and played a large role in the establishment of this new speciality. She worked with communities to develop services such as Nokuthula School, Harvey Cohen Centre, Sunshine Centre, Selwyn Segal and many others. She was a core member of the team which developed the widely used START early intervention programme.

Her compassion for disabled children and their families knew no limits and extended to paying for their transport, feeding them and making herself available at any time of day if they needed her. She left a legacy for the doctors working in the neurodevelopmental clinics at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic (previously the Johannesburg General), Rahima Moosa and Child (previously Coronation) and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic hospitals.

Joan and her husband, Prof Ian Webster, had four children. She and the late Prof Webster, who was Director of the National Centre for Occupational Health, endowed a medal for the Wits candidate with the best performance in the examinations for the Diploma in Occupational Health. 

Joel Joffe (1932-2017)

Joel Goodman Joffe was born in Johannesburg, the son of Abraham and Dena Joffe, and attended Marist Brothers College. He graduated from Wits with a BCom in 1952 and an LLB in 1955. His career in law, business and philanthropy, and especially his contribution in the area of human rights, earned him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Wits in 2001.

He qualified as an attorney and later practiced as an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar. After the Sharpeville massacre in March 1960, he was planning to emigrate to Australia with his artist wife Vanetta (Pretorius) (BA 1960) and young daughters Deborah and Lisa. James Kantor, his law firm partner, was then arrested, as was Kantor’s brother-in-law, Harold Wolpe, who was the ANC’s lawyer. Joffe agreed to help manage Kantor’s affairs before leaving, but was approached to defend Nelson Mandela and other ANC members in the 1963-4 Rivonia Trial.

The legal team, which included Bram Fischer (posthumous honorary LLD 2015), Vernon Berrangé, George Bizos (BA 1951, LLB 1954, honorary LLD 1999) and Arthur Chaskalson (BCom 1952, LLB 1954, honorary LLD 1990), managed to avert the death penalty. Joffe called this experience “a great privilege” for him and wrote about it in The Rivonia Story. In the foreword, Nelson Mandela called the book “one of the most reliable sources for understanding what happened at that trial and how we came to live and see democracy triumph in South Africa.” Later, Mandela used to tease Joffe about being “the man who sent me to jail”.

Joffe went on to defend and support many others accused of political offences, and was subjected to police harassment. In 1965 the family were forced to leave South Africa – and were refused entry into Australia. His third daughter, Abigail, was born in the United Kingdom.

There, he and fellow Wits graduates Mark Weinberg (BCom 1952, LLB 1954, honorary DSc Economics 1990) and Sydney Lipworth (BCom 1952, LLB 1954, honorary LLD 2003) started Hambro Life Assurance, which became the highly successful Allied Dunbar. Joffe was Deputy Chair until 1991.

He was a founder member and trustee of a wide range of charitable organisations in the UK, including the JG and VL Joffe Charitable Trust, and International Chairman of Oxfam from 1995 to 2001. He campaigned for consumer rights, for socially responsible business practices and for assisted dying for the terminally ill. Oxfam recorded that he was determined to make the organisation “as efficient as it was passionate. ‘Passion and good intentions by themselves are no value to anyone without effective implementation,’ he said.”

From 2000 to 2004, he chaired the Giving Campaign, which encourages philanthropy by the wealthiest in society. The Joffe Charitable Trust gave millions every year to mainly African causes and especially to causes that were likely to find it relatively difficult to attract support, such as abortion for rape victims and raising awareness of female genital mutilation. “One does what one believes is right,” Joffe told one interviewer.

Mac Maharaj, whom Joffe defended on charges of sabotage in 1964, said he was always “careful, thoughtful, willing to put the needs of others above even those of himself and his family”. In a newspaper tribute, he said: “Every time I turned to him for support … he was there – not as an act of charity, not as a means of increasing dependency, but as an act of empowerment.”

He remained closely involved with South Africa and, through his family trust, was among the University’s most generous individual donors. He contributed funds towards commemorating Bram Fischer and spoke at the ceremony where Fischer posthumously received his honorary doctorate.  

He was awarded the CBE in 1999 and became a Labour peer as Baron Joffe of Liddington in 2000. Last year he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

Lord Joffe was a man of great integrity and skill and has been described as wise, enthusiastic, hard-working, generous, forthright, kind and courageous – though diffident. His “weakness”, the Financial Times reported in 2011, was tennis. In the same interview, he was quoted as saying: “I’ve been fortunate, and I feel a responsibility to help other people. That’s always been my approach: I’m passionate about justice and about human rights.” 

He died on 18 June 2017 at home in Liddington, Swindon, aged 85, after a short illness.

“We will remember Joel fondly for his towering intellect, big heart, and tremendous sense of fun, along with the many great contributions he made towards a fairer society for all,” said Humanists UK, an organisation of which he was patron.

John Bird (1943-2017)

John Bird (BCom 1966) began his career at Afrox before moving to Scaw Metals, where he worked for over 35 years, ending his career there as Group Resources Director. He was a lifelong supporter of Wits, South African art and Johannesburg heritage, and his family described him as a model for how to contribute to building our democracy.

Nkoba Mathabathe (1982-2017)

Nkoba Meriam Mathabathe (BA Ed 2014), second daughter of the late Nkgoba Philemon Mathabathe and Mmamadula Sinah Mathabathe, was born on 4 February  1982 at Mabopane Thabakhubidu, Ntwane, in Dennilton.

She matriculated from Mohlabetsi Senior Secondary School and graduated from Wits with a bachelor’s degree in education. Later she completed an honours degree in education management, law and policy at the University of Pretoria. Mathabathe was employed at the Thushanang Combined School in Machipe Village since 2014 until her untimely death on the 12 August 2017, after a short illness.

She is survived by her fiancé, mother, three brothers, two sisters, a niece and two nephews.

Source: Mohlamme Mathabathe (BPharm 2001, MBBCh 2007, DTM&H 2009)

Judith Frankel Lipkin (1936-2017)

Judith Eda Frankel Lipkin (BSc QS 1958), one of the first women to qualify as a quantity surveyor in South Africa, died in the UK in May 2017, aged 81.

She was born in Port Elizabeth, the only daughter of a mathematician (Eileen Frankel, née Orr) and an antiquarian bookseller (Jacob Frankel).

Her son Jonathan recalls her talking about arduous exams at Wits, requiring candidates to perform hundreds of technical calculations using nothing more than a slide rule, pencil and paper. When she graduated, quantity surveying was still a profession dominated by men and she was often asked to work on domestic buildings rather than “grand projects”. However, much of her work in South Africa required travelling to remote locations.

She was admitted to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and her status as a professional pioneer was acknowledged when she was twice invited to London for a “Woman of the Year” event in the 1960s.

She moved permanently to London in the 1960s, married the composer Malcolm Lipkin (who died a week after she did) and gradually gave up work to look after their only child. She also devoted herself to helping her husband pursue his career in music. She was an excellent cook and enjoyed entertaining family, friends and Malcolm’s colleagues. She was very interested in the arts and culture, and a close follower of current affairs.

Sources: Jonathan Lipkin; Rand Daily Mail; The Star; The Daily Telegraph

Louise Emanuel (1953-2017)

Louise Sharon Emanuel (BA 1974, PDE 1976), an internationally influential psychotherapist specialising in the treatment of children and adolescents, died in the UK of a neurological disease in May 2017, aged 63.

She was born in Johannesburg to Abraham and Valerie Berkowitz (both Wits graduates: BSc Eng 1939 and BSc 1943, respectively) and studied English and French at Wits. With her postgraduate diploma in education, she went on to teach at King Edward VII School.

She moved to London in 1981 and qualified as a child and adolescent psychotherapist, the field in which her husband Ricky Emanuel also worked. They had two sons, Alex and Adrian.

Her work focused on helping children who had suffered trauma or had behavioural problems. She was known for her acute observation of young children and the way they related to their parents, enabling her to connect with them and understand their thoughts and feelings.

Emanuel developed the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust’s model for working with children under five, and set it up in a number of countries, including South Africa. She also developed methods to test how effective the intervention was. With Elizabeth Bradley, she co-edited a book called What Can the Matter Be? (2008) and in 2004 published Understanding Your Three-Year-Old. In recent years she worked with the South African organisation Siya Phula Phula, which helps child-headed households.

The Association for Infant Mental Health UK is to award a Louise Emanuel Prize for a significant contribution to the field of infant mental health. She is remembered by the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health for the “insightful intelligence and passion” she brought to her work, and as a friend who was curious, energetic, generous and fun.  

Emanuel enjoyed travelling, hiking, reading, theatre, film and art, and wrote poetry herself. In addition to her husband, sons and mother, she leaves her brothers Ivor, Frank and Dan Berkowitz – all Wits-trained doctors.

Lynne Baker (1928-2017)

Professor Lynne Wilford (“Boetie”) Baker (MBBCh 1951) was born in Potchefstroom and attended Jeppe Boys’ High School in Johannesburg. After qualifying at Wits, he returned to Potchefstroom and worked as a general practitioner. He later began his surgical training at Aberdeen University under Prof Hugh Dudley and Prof George Mavor, one of the pioneers in the management of venous disease and arterial surgery, which became major interests of Lynne’s. He completed his Royal College Fellowship in Edinburgh in 1958 and Royal College of Surgeons Fellowship in England in 1961 and proceeded to McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where he completed a Master of Science degree. In 1967, he returned with his young family to South Africa, where he was appointed Head of Department and Professor of Surgery at the University of Natal. He was in charge of surgical services based at the King Edward VIII hospital.

Lynne’s aim was to improve conditions at the hospital and to develop a first-rate Department of Surgery. He was an immensely hard worker himself and set about recruiting individuals who would help him in his mission to expand and develop academic surgery in (then) Natal. His major strength, when recruiting staff, was to allow them to develop in their own right – an approach which engendered enormous loyalty. He also involved other departments and the private sector in teaching. One of the highlights of his international career was delivering the Semmelweiss Lecture on “Lessons from lavage and colonic trauma” at the Surgical Infection Society of Europe congress in Vienna in 1994. His many academic achievements culminated in his election as a Fellow of the University of Natal.

He held senior leadership roles in the College of Medicine of South Africa and in various societies including the Surgical Research Society, Trauma Society and Association of Surgeons of South Africa. He introduced the Advanced Trauma Life Support concept into South Africa and poured his energy into making it an integral part of student training.

In the operating theatre environment in a “show and tell” situation, he was a superb technical surgeon. His mantra was: “if it is not right it is wrong, so do it again”.

He had an informal and relaxed management style but was a stickler for discipline and in particular dress standards. Students were expected to dress properly and this, for some reason, revolved around wearing a necktie. He had an open door policy until 8am in the morning, and often said he built his department around his coffee percolator. A man with warmth, energy and zest for life, he enjoyed a party and was an inveterate traveller.

He leaves his wife of 60 years, Barbara, two children, Diane and Andrew, and three grandchildren.

Source: Prof John V Robbs, in South African Journal of Surgery

Mervyn Shear (1931 – 2017)

Emeritus Professor Mervyn Shear, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs (1983 – 1990) and founder of the Department of Oral Pathology at Wits, died on 24 January 2017 at his retirement home in Cape Town.

He was born in Johannesburg, the son of Sam and Minnie (Labe) Shear. He qualified at Wits (BDS 1954, HDip Dentistry 1959, MDent 1965, DSc Dent 1973) and was awarded an honorary LLD in 1992. He established the first biopsy service in oral pathology at Wits in 1958 and headed the department for 17 years, from 1969.

He pioneered work on cysts of the oral and maxillofacial regions, resulting in many published articles and a book on the subject. 

“He was a great and kind teacher and always had the students’ interests at heart,” says Prof Jos Hille, who worked with Prof Shear at the University of the Western Cape, where he gave his time freely in semi-retirement.  Described as a “legend” in his field, he was also “a great colleague and wonderful friend”.

He was an Honorary Life Member of the South African Dental Association; a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, the Royal College of Pathologists and the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa; co-founder and past President of the International Association of Oral Pathologists; and an Honorary Member of the British Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologists and the Scandinavian Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologists.

He also wrote a book about a difficult period of history, Wits: A University in the Apartheid Era (WUP 1996).  

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor in the late 1980s, he provided leadership at a time of political protests and harassment, a state of emergency and clashes between anti-apartheid activist students and police. Apparently there were 52 student demonstrations while he was in this office. It was, as he said in his book, “a steep learning curve” for him – and he even took a police rubber bullet in the back. All this in addition to other responsibilities for student life.

“A great pathologist and writer, he was a great liberal and forward thinker – and sometimes a little mischievous. He was a thorn in the side of the SA government.  During one period of unrest, police helicopters were buzzing the campus; Mervyn had the students place chairs on the lawn, in an arrangement that from above read F---- O--!” recalls Prof Crispian Scully.

“We always were in no doubt that Prof Shear would be on our side when we were being attacked, arrested or detained by apartheid police,” says former Black Students Society president Tiego Moseneke.

Former SRC president Linda Vilakazi-Tselane says: “Prof Shear deserves the respect and recognition that matches the support and sacrifices he made for the marginalised students. A true champion of humanity, justice and courage for equal access.”

Mervyn Shear’s wife, Caryll Shear (Posel; MBBCh 1954, BA Hons 1972, MA 1975), who taught Fine Arts at Wits in the 1980s, died in 2013. The Shears were art collectors and donors to the Wits Art Museum. Their son, Dr Keith Shear, lectures in African Studies at Birmingham University in the UK. 

Mitchell Shackleton (1920-2017)

Professor Mitchell Shackleton (PhD 1975) died in July 2017 after a short illness. Born in the UK, he obtained his first degree at Oxford and was a senior lecturer in French at Wits from 1954 to 1961. He went on to the University of Cape Town, where he became Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He led the Association for French Studies in Southern Africa in the 1970s, and in 1975 received the Ordre des Palmes Académiques for his contribution to bringing English- and French-speaking peoples together on the African continent. His Wits PhD was on the artistic theory and practice of André Gide. Professor Shackleton leaves his wife, Ninon.

Sources: Dr John McCutcheon; UCT

Nico Nel (1926-2017)

Dr Nicholas Everhardus Nel (MBBCh 1951) was born in Brakpan and died in Bloemfontein, aged 91. He had been a GP and grape farmer in Douglas, in the Northern Cape, and ran a clinic at Schmidtsdrif. He leaves his wife Elsie and children.

Source: Volksblad 8 November 2017

Oliver Kerfoot (1923-2017) and Noreen Kerfoot (1924-2018)

Oliver Kerfoot, who died aged 93 on New Year’s Day 2017, graduated from Wits with a BSc in Botany and Geology in 1951. After doing an MA at Oxford he worked in forestry research for many years in Zambia, Kenya and South Africa before joining the Wits Department of Botany in 1968 as a senior lecturer, where he remained until his retirement in 1988. His special contribution was in the field of Ecology.

At Wits he met Noreen McHardy (BA 1946), who was then working in the library. They were married in 1950. She qualified as a teacher at Oxford, then worked as a librarian, teacher and lecturer in Kenya and at Stellenbosch, where she later graduated with an MA, as well as lecturing in the English Department and working in the library at Wits after their return to Johannesburg. Noreen Kerfoot died on 8 January 2018 after nobly and cheerfully enduring many years of illness.

They leave their son William Kerfoot (BA 1975, BA Hons 1976, LLB 1978).

Source: William Kerfoot

Pauline Cuzen (1929-2017)

Former Deputy Registrar for Student Affairs Pauline Cuzen (BA 1950) passed away peacefully on 15 May, aged 88.

Pauline Anne Thompson was born in Bournemouth, England. During World War II, she and her brother were evacuated to America and fostered by a family in Ohio. After the war, the family came to South Africa and settled in Johannesburg. Pauline married Alan Cuzen and they lived in Botswana for some time, before returning to Johannesburg in 1963 with their five children: Dennis, John, Philip, Ann and Mary. 

She was a hard worker and lifelong learner, at ease among people regardless of their age or hers. Activities and interests included the Orchid Society, bridge, Continuity Club, University of the Third Age, Shakespeare, and the Johannesburg Hospital Chaplaincy Team. She loved hiking, and travelled the world to see sights like Mayan temples and the gorillas of Rwanda.

She was socially conscious and a strong, independent woman who embraced every opportunity to enrich her inner self and those around her. 

Pauline was a loyal and supportive Witsie even after she retired in 1992. She attended many alumni events, including last year’s Founders’ Tea. She and her family donated 13 olive trees – one for each grandchild – which are growing next to the FNB Building on West Campus. Those grandchildren described her lovingly as “a force to be reckoned with”.

Peter Fridjhon (1951-2017)

Professor Peter Fridjhon (BSc 1974, HDipEd 1974), former Head of the School of Statistics and Actuarial Science (2011-2016), was associated with Wits for over four decades.

He matriculated from King Edward VII School in 1968 and, after obtaining his Wits degree and teaching diploma, taught mathematics at Malvern High School for five years before pursuing a Master’s degree at Lancaster University. On his return, he joined the staff of the Department of Applied Mathematics in 1980, before moving to the Department of Statistics in 1982.

Well-known to students in both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Fridjhon always made himself available for consultation on statistics to staff, postgraduate students and industry. During his time at Wits, he served on many School, Faculty and University committees. His contribution to research in the social sciences is also recognised as he served on teams that made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the design and implementation of research projects.

The Psychological Society of South Africa acknowledged his contribution to its professional journal and to researchers, adding: “His sharp wit and willingness to assist will be remembered always.”

Philip Bonner (1945-2017)

Philip Lewis Bonner, emeritus professor in history, died suddenly on Sunday 24 September 2017, aged 72.

Born in England, raised in Kenya, educated at Nottingham and  London universities, Philip was appointed  lecturer in History by Professor Noel Garson  in 1971  By 1991, twenty years later, he had been made a full professor as Professor of Urban and Labour History, and then promoted  to Professor on the Special List in 1995.  From 1999 to 2003 he served as Head of Department; from 1987 to 2012 he was also chairperson of the inter-disciplinary History Workshop.  In 2007 he was awarded an NRF chair in Local Histories, Present Realities, finally retiring in 2012 after 41 years of service.

A man of considerable energy and enthusiasm, and armed with a sharp, insightful, original mind, Philip made a huge impact on the Department, the Faculty of Arts (now the Faculty of Humanities), and the wider University over those years.  He was a pioneer in many respects, In his PhD research on 19th century Swaziland for the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, he  pioneered in collecting and using Swazi oral traditions. His  thesis was published in 1983 as Kings, Commoners and Concessionaires

His mandate on appointment to Wits was to pioneer the professional teaching of African history in South Africa, and he succeeded not only in launching African history at Wits but together with Peter Delius in later years maintained Wits as the leading centre in the country for African history.  Students found his lectures exciting, particularly in their attempts to relate the past to the present.

Philip was a an innovator in the Department and Faculty in another direction - as a product of SOAS he was a Marxist, at a juncture when the Faculty as a whole was judged by critics to be  conservative in outlook, while the  Department seemed to be set in a traditional and conventional mould..  However, the university was in a major growth stage, and Philip was soon joined by new like-minded young colleagues, including David Webster  in Social Anthropology,.

What struck Philip about the Wits Faculty, by comparison with British universities, was the lack of dialogue between disciplines, and the promotion of interdisciplinary exchanges was certainly a major  pioneering enterprise of his. His great achievement was to set up, in 1974, the African Studies Seminar of the recently formed African Studies Institute as a thriving inter-disciplinary venue,,.  In 1977 Philip joined Belinda Bozzoli in Sociology in forming the interdisciplinary History Workshop, with its triennial conferences, which launched the new social history, or ‘history from below’, in South Africa and which proceeded to inspire Philip’s post-graduate supervisions.  From early on Philip attracted postgraduates, and they  are among his major legacies.

Philip was never a purely university figure. He extended his activities well eyond the university, engaging in worker education and the movement to create a new generation of black trade unions.   Evidently out of a concern at his trade union involvement the state made an attempt to deport Phillip, along with his trade unionist wife, Chris, in December 1986.  On 9 December he was served with a deportation order, arrested and imprisoned in John Vorster Square.  Formidable protest was mounted, at home and abroad, and Philip was released pending an interview with the Minister of Home Affairs, Stoffel Botha, in Cape Town in January as to why he should not be deported.  After the interview the order was rescinded.   

Concurrent with  Philip’s trade union activism was a shift to labour and social history as his primary research field, leading to the launch in 1983 of an ambitious  research programme on the history of the working class on the Witwatersrand, beginning with the East Rand. During the 1980s and 1990s Philip published a string of articles  in major international journals and edited books on the labour and social history of the Witwatersrand, establishing his reputation as the leading historian of the labour  movement in South Africa,  Increasingly he became involved in the activities of the History Workshop, and in 1987 became its chairperson,  As chairperson he engaged in a major venture of popularisation by serving as historical consultant and executive producer to Channel 4 in Britain for a six part documentary television series on the history of Soweto.    A book, Soweto: A History, written by Bonner and Lauren Segal, resulted from the venture in 1998.  Two books on township histories followed,  Kathorus: A  History (2000) and Alexandra: A History (2008), both written with Noor Nieftagodien..  

 When Philip took over as Head of the Department of History jn 1998 jt was a critical juncture.  After two decades of sustained growth, enrolments in History fell off dramatically.  It was a national phenomenon as students in the New South Africa turned their backs on the South African past. . To  counter the fall in student numbers, and to underline its usefulness to the University,   Bonner’s department took to offering service courses to other departments, including a hugely popular course on customary law in South Africa in the School of Law,

The demise of apartheid posed a similar challenge to the identity and purpose of the History Workshop.  It had previously always been an oppositional group in its historiography, aligning itself with the oppressed, disenfranchised masses. The 1999 conference, ‘Commissioning the Past’, attended by a number of NGOs, helped provide a new sense of direction> Smaller, more frequent conferences would turn  a historical lens on pressing contemporary issues, such as land reform and the HIV/Aids scourge.  In the wake of the Soweto project, priority was also given to local history projects, with a team of researchers from different disciplines working  with Philip and Noor Nieftegodien. The Workshop also entered the field of public history With Philip playing a major role in putting together the Apartheid Museum, first conceptualised by him.    The award to Philip in 2007 of a  NRF chair in ‘Local Histories and Present Realities’ provided five years of funding for the Workshop’s research activities.

After his retirement Philip continued with his research and writing, and was working on a biography of Matthews Phosa at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife, Sally Gaule.

Potoki Isaac Nkwe (1950-2017)

Potoki Isaac Nkwe (BEd 1982, MEd 1984) was born in Krugersdorp, the son of Regina Sepotokele and Alfred Lebajoa. From the age of five, he lived with his grandparents, Bishop Daniel Nkwe and Norah Nkwe, on a farm in Potchefstroom, where he spent many happy years with his siblings and cousins. He had warm memories about travelling with his grandfather, the Bishop, on a bike to areas around Fochville, visiting churches within the African Anglican Church.

When he was about nine, they relocated to Sharpeville. When he completed his junior certificate in 1967, his uncle, Bishop David Nkwe, and aunt, Maggie Nkwe, saw his potential and decided that he should move to Orlando High School to be taught by the well-known maths teacher and principal Dr Thamsanqa Wilkinson “Wilkie” Kambule. Even though that opportunity eluded him, he still got very good results when he matriculated in 1969.   

During his time at the University of the North (now called the University of Limpopo), in the early 1970s, Potoki completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Philosophy and Psychology. He was also Chairman of the University Choral Society and President of the Students’ Representative Council.   

Potoki became a teacher at Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto and was a member of the Johannesburg Teachers’ Choir and the St Paul’s Anglican Church Choir. He was arrested together with other students and teachers during the 1976 Soweto Uprising – but two weeks later he married Doris Tsakane Ntsanwisi.

He also taught at Hudson Ntsanwisi Secondary School in Nkowankowa, and became Deputy Principal and Headmaster. During his time in Giyani, he worked as a Senior School Psychologist and later as Chief Education Advisor for the Department of Education for the Gazankulu Authority.   

Potoki went on to attain his Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees while lecturing and supervising research students at Wits University. He did his internship at the East Rand Hospital and qualified as a clinical psychologist before starting his private practice in clinical psychology and education services at Ipelegeng Community Centre. He focused on psychotherapy for young adolescents but ran many other projects at Ipelegeng. It was through this work that the WK Kellogg Foundation invited him to be their South African representative and programme director.

He later worked for several organisations including the Mpumalanga Development Corporation, Alexandra Renewal Project and Junior Achievement (an academy for training entrepreneurs).

Potoki remained a member of various church choirs, including St Michael’s Anglican Church and St Paul’s Anglican Church.

He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2017 and passed away in October. He is survived by his wife Tsakane and daughters Matshego, Dineo and Gontse and their families.     

Source: Rev. Martha Gordon

Russell Joffe (1954-2017)

Professor Russell Trevor Joffe (MBBCh 1977) was the former Dean and Vice-President of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University in Ontario, former Dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science at Staten Island University Hospital in New York. His field was the biology of mood disorders and he published several books on the subject. He was highly regarded as a researcher, clinician and academic leader, and is remembered for his intelligence, compassion, wisdom and sense of humour. He helped establish the McMaster Mood Disorders Program, which won the 1998 American Psychiatric Association’s Psychiatric Services Achievement Gold Award. His wife Jennifer and children Ben, Claire, Robyn and Sharyn survive him.

Source: McMaster University

Sibulele Mgudlwa (1991-2017)

Sibulele Mgudlwa (BCom 2016) was born in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape and matriculated from Dale College in King William’s Town with six distinctions and half-colours for debating and academics.

At Wits, he joined the South African Students Congress Organisation, the Young Communist League and the ANC Youth League. He was elected chairperson of the Accounting School Council and appointed as chairperson of Wits’ Student Parliament. Sibulele was elected the SRC president (2012/13) and earned the respect of many, regardless of their affiliations, through his caring service and humble personality.

Thomas Brummer (1929-2017)

Thomas Marnewecke Brummer (BDS 1951) was one of the last students to qualify from the old Wits Dental Hospital in Bok Street. His wife, Yvonne, writes: “In 1947 the Dental Faculty was full because of the young soldiers returning after the war. Thomas was advised by an uncle who was a dentist in Johannesburg to knock on the Dean’s door every day and after two weeks, there was a cancellation and he was accepted. There was no accommodation available [his home was in Barkly East], so he moved to Kempton Park and stayed with two aunts.” He met Yvonne at church and they travelled on the same train to Johannesburg and back for five years. “We were married a few months before he qualified in 1951.

“We spent seven years in Beaufort West, where Thomas was involved in a church, taking many of their services. Then we moved to Carnarvon in the Karoo. He became a travelling dentist, visiting Victoria West for two days a month, then Williston, Fraserburg and Sutherland once every three months. Thomas had a folding chair which the Red Cross used during the First World War. He had a special cabinet made for his instruments, sterilizer and other necessary equipment. He had to do everything himself. In other words, he worked very hard.”

But it wasn’t all work: Thomas started a waterski club at a farm dam near Loxton which is still going today. “Waterskiing in the Karoo was a real adventure. A friend had a small aeroplane and many a Friday afternoon they would fly around the district looking at the dams to see the water levels.” 

The Brummers moved to Cape Town in 1966, and in 1972 Thomas became Director of the Middle East Christian Outreach, a mission which had been started in Syria in the 1860s. He held this position until 1990 and retired in 1996.

“His patients loved him because he was gentle and honest. He loved his Creator and always put Him first,” says Yvonne. Dr Brummer died in June 2017, two days before his 88th birthday, leaving Yvonne, three children (Diane, Tommy and Belinda) and nine grandchildren.

Thomas Hopwood (1924-2017)

Thomas Wynne Hopwood (BSc Eng 1950) followed in his father’s footsteps as a civil engineer. Tom Hopwood Snr served in World War I, repairing bridges and canals destroyed by the Germans in Europe, and recorded much of this in photographs. He went on to a career in water engineering. Tom Hopwood Jnr was in the first class to enrol at Wits after World War II, during which he had served in the SA Signals Corps, flying transport planes between North and South Africa. He was also an amateur photographer.

“He treasured his time at Wits,” wrote his wife Jill, “and always spoke feelingly about those days, having especially fond memories of some of his professors – Prof Gewers being one I can recall. Tom spent his engineering days as a municipal engineer, in Pretoria until 1971 and thereafter in Port Elizabeth. Would that there could be more of his ilk today – going steadily to work patiently and diligently at a not very glamorous job, but certainly keeping the wheels turning in the cities.” 

Tiisetso Moja (1969-2017)

Tiisetso Moshate Nathan Moja (MSc Eng 1997, MBA 2009) died in a car accident on 12 April 2017. Born in Pretoria and educated first in Atteridgeville and Ga-Rankuwa and at Waterkloof House, he shone academically – as did his twin brother Tshepo. Tiisetso attended St Alban’s College and UCT before furthering his engineering and business studies at Wits. He excelled in his career in telecommunications and information technology, and was Group General Manager at MTN at the time of his death. A number of engineering graduates benefited from his professional mentorship. He was married to Hilda (Kithinji) for 23 years and they had two sons, Moagi and Neo. 

Victor Raynal (1925-2017)

Victor Anton Raynal (BSc Eng 1950), born in Mozambique, was the third generation of a family that had been involved in the electricity supply industry in Southern Africa since 1898. His grandfather and father worked for the Électricité De France Company in Mauritius and then Mozambique.  When Victor was eight years old, his father died of malaria and he was sent to boarding school at Marist Brothers in Johannesburg. He completed secondary school at the age of 16 and started a five-year apprenticeship with the Johannesburg City Council (JCC).

Realising that he had potential, the JCC awarded him a scholarship which enabled him to study Electrical Engineering at Wits. He then had a professional training attachment with Ferranti in Oldham, England, which was at that time one of the largest electrical engineering distribution equipment manufacturers in the world. Ferranti was developing the world’s first commercially available computer and he considered whether he should develop his career along that path. However, he was very committed to using his engineering skills to develop the infrastructure in Africa. When he completed this professional attachment he turned down lucrative job offers in the UK and other Commonwealth countries to resume working for the JCC in 1955.  

In 1970 he was appointed as Assistant City Electrical Engineer (Distribution). This responsibility involved providing reticulation for a densely populated area of about 500 square kilometres, which included Soweto. He developed ultra-high street lighting to provide illumination for large areas economically.

Victor achieved many academic and professional qualifications. He became a member of the Council of the South African and UK Royal Institutes of Electrical Engineers and a Fellow of both Institutes. In 1994 he received a 50 years’ membership award from the SAIEE.

After taking early retirement from the JCC at the age of 55, he worked for Croswell Engineers until he went into semi-retirement in 1989, but continued working on part-time projects until recently. Victor was a keen competitive sportsman and chess player. He leaves his wife Margaret, a daughter and a son. Two sons predeceased him.

Vivian Davids (1945-2017)

Vivian Christopher Davids (BA Hons 1983) was born in Fordsburg in Johannesburg, the eldest of five children. He completed his BA in Education at the Rand College of Education in 1966 and spent eight years teaching at the Chris John Botha High School in Bosmont, Johannesburg. He went on to become a lecturer at the Rand College of Education, where he spent 27 years, eventually leaving when the college closed. During his tenure there he taught hundreds of students and solidified his reputation as an educator. He ended his career at the Gauteng Department of Education in 2010.

Throughout his career Vivian endeavoured to further his own education. He did his Honours in English Linguistics at Wits and his Master’s at Reading University in England.

He also ensured that all his children received the best education available and opportunities that he never had.

Vivian passed away in September 2017 after a battle with prostate cancer. He leaves his wife, five children and 11 grandchildren.

Source: Joshua Davids

Wilson Maumela (1964-2017)

Avhahumi Wilson Maumela (BA Ed 1989, BEd 1991) was born in Venda, grew up in Soweto and died in Diepkloof after a short illness. After qualifying as a teacher, he began his career at Meadowlands High School and later became principal of Orlando High School and of Job Rathebe High School. He is survived by his wife Zanele and their five children.

Source: Sowetan 6 October 2017

Delyse de Kock (1937-2017)

Delyse de Kock (BA FA 1971) grew up in Springs. She had a difficult home life and left school and home before matriculating. After working as a secretary for years, she decided to pursue her dream of a career in art. First she completed her matric at Damelin, where she was tutored by Cecil Skotnes. She then studied at Wits from 1967 to 1970. Her teachers included Erica Berry, Cecily Sash, Robert Hodgins and Judith Mason. As a student she displayed a notable maturity and talent, and much was expected of her. She completed her teacher’s diploma and later became a senior lecturer at the Teachers Training College. She was well loved by her pupils for her innovation, passion for art, deep interest in the human condition – and her eccentricity! Much of her drawing and painting reflects her interest in sculpture, for which she lacked a suitable working space. She was also interested in Greek mythology. For her, art was a private endeavour and she preferred not to show or talk about her work. In her lifetime she exhibited only once, in 1979 at the Trevor Coleman Gallery in Norwood. (Her friends held an exhibition in her memory in June 2018.) Yet she was a joyous individual with a great passion for life – a remarkable friend who left an indelible mark on those around her.

Source: Willem Vogel

Stephen Hulbert (1949-2017)

Stephen Arthur Hulbert (BA 1973) was born and grew up in Germiston, an only child. At Wits, he switched from a BCom to a BA and was active in NUSAS and student politics. After graduation he became a financial journalist at the Financial Mail and later went into public relations and scriptwriting. Leaving Barry Goldman Studio, he and his wife, Vanda, went to Kosi Bay, where he was involved in community development, initially with a craft project. Working with the University of Zululand he helped create a farmer’s co-operative and a cattle development project owned and run by the community. Liaising with international funders, other NGOs and the KwaZulu conservation body was also part of his work. His community development expertise and understanding of conservation and land issues were essential contributions to the Shongweni Dam Conservancy, which was created with the involvement of the surrounding communities and the unions at a politically fraught period in KwaZulu Natal (1992-1995). The family (by then with two adopted daughters) moved to Cape Town next, where Stephen became Director of the Surplus People’s Project, an NGO concerned with land reclamation and redistribution. On completion of his contract he joined the Table Mountain National Park, and then SANParks, in their marketing divisions. At SANParks he created the Wild Card and the first edition of the Wild magazine. He retired as Director of AFRA, a land rights NGO based in Pietermaritzburg, in 2014. Stephen had a deep passion for social justice and democracy. He had a keen, analytical intellect and authored several seminal papers on land and development. He passed away in June last year after a long battle with illness.

Source: Vanda van Speyk

Henk Lantermans (1938-2017)

Henk Lantermans (BSc Eng 1965) was born in Holland and came to South Africa with his family in 1953. From an early age he wanted to be an engineer. He enjoyed his time at Wits and had many memories of professors and student activities. Though his university education was important for his professional career, it was the friends he made during those years that mattered to him. They remained his life-long comrades and he always looked forward to reunions. He was a member of the Engineering Council of South Africa, the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Lighting Engineers of South Africa. He began his career at the South African Railways and went on to work as a senior electrical engineer at a number of engineering firms, as well as doing some consulting work. Projects he was involved in included 29 July 2017, leaving his son Shaun (BCom 2001, BCom Hons 2002) and Shaun’s family. His wife, Bernice, died in 2014. His sister, Dr Elizabeth Lantermans (MBBCh 1965), is also a Wits graduate. Source: Shaun Lantermans Henk Lantermans Carnival City casino, the Apartheid Museum, a uranium enrichment plant, mines, stadiums, highway lights and water schemes. He travelled widely as a young man and worked until the age of 75. He passed away suddenly on 29 July 2017, leaving his son Shaun (BCom 2001, BCom Hons 2002) and Shaun’s family. His wife, Bernice, died in 2014. His sister, Dr Elizabeth Lantermans (MBBCh 1965), is also a Wits graduate.

Source: Shaun Lantermans

Clive Hicks (1932-2017)

On the memorial for T.S. Elliot in East Coker Church is the inscription “in my beginning is my end ... in my end is my beginning”, taken from his Four Quartets, one of Clive’s favourite poems.

Endings are important; as important as beginnings.

So I will begin with Clive’s ending.

We knew, when he came out of hospital in August that we were on borrowed time. So we can be thankful for the opportunity to arrange several special memorable days with his family, children and grandchildren during that month. We can be thankful that we had warning on his last day and time enough to call my siblings, so we all spoke with him. We can be thankful that David and I were with Dad and Mum, able to hold both of them in an embrace of love as he passed on. Clive was not afraid of death. “If this is it; that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.” He had a firm and unwavering faith in the underlying goodness of the universe, and the essence of God as love. It was quick and without suffering; as good an ending as anyone might wish for, for which we all can be thankful.

But as Dad often said about his birthday: “It’s just another bloody day!”

What matters is not the beginning or the end but the life.

Clive had a very full life. He was born on 14th September 1932 in South Africa, eldest son of Vivian and Jeanette Hicks. His father was an amateur radio enthusiast who made contact with Oswald Gayford during his epic record-breaking flight to South Africa in February 1933, and so named his son Clive Gayford Hicks.

South African education allowed pupils to skip a year or drop a year depending on ability. After a move to Port Elizabeth and enrolment at Grey School, Clive found himself, much to his surprise, at the top of his class even after moving up a year. He told me that his strategy was always to be reading one chapter ahead of where the lessons were, so he effectively taught himself, and that he made himself indispensible to the class bullies, who were two years older than him, by freely sharing his homework to secure their protection.

Vivian was an engineer, designing railway bridges, so it was natural for Clive to follow into architecture at Wits University in Johannesburg, aged 17. While he was at university he attended a ballet performance with a group of friends, and it changed his life. Shortly afterwards he found a ballet class for adults. Clive’s sister, Jennifer, recalls him practicing along the main passage in their home at St Andrews Road. He would start the run-up in his bedroom, sprint along the passage and do a flying leap past her door. A few years later Clive was in London dancing professionally with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company and later Royal Opera Ballet, Covent Garden. His greatest triumph, he told me, was the chance to dance a Pas-de-deux with Margot Fonteyn, for whom he had hosted a reception at his home in South Africa in 1956.

Careers in ballet are brief, so after three years he returned to architecture in 1959, joining the firm of Stewart, Hendry and Smith, in which he remained until after it merged with Lawrence and Wrightson. Clive specialised in designing buildings for the emerging hospice movement, providing suitable settings for people with terminal illnesses to die with dignity and family around them, under the inspirational leadership of Dame Cicely Saunders. Many of the UK’s most celebrated hospices were designed or enlarged by Clive and his colleagues, including St Christopher’s, the world’s first purpose-built hospice, opened in 1967.

I remember Dad showing me the designs of one of his hospices, pointing out how the patient rooms were octagonal, partly to maximise window views into the flower filled courtyards, partly to allow quick but discrete access for medical intervention and partly because the symbolic meaning of the number eight is ‘new birth’, which is why fonts are almost always octagonal. Dad was very conscious of how subconscious associations affect us and can be used in architecture to affect people’s spirits.

In 1960, Clive moved into a rented flat at 49 West Cromwell Road, London. Barons Court was a South African enclave even then, for those that didn’t like the way that country was going, so when he helped carry up the bags of a young lady from Port Elizabeth moving into one of the other flats that soon led to them going out together, though his taste in Swedish cinema is something she still shudders at. They went on holidays together, youth-hostelling in Scotland and Europe riding pillion on his battered Vespa scooter, which broke down somewhere in Italy leaving them stranded until a truck gave them a lift. The garage people laughed when they saw it, but managed to fix it. This is the sort of thing that can make or break a relationship. Mum and Dad got married in South Africa in 1962 and I arrived three years later, followed by Jono, David and Susan.

Dad was an amazing father. Despite being out almost every night of the week either teaching at adult education classes, judging photographic competitions or leading discussion groups at Colet House, he still made time to read to each of us regularly. I can still remember him reading the Doctor Doolittle books to me, and listening as he read to the others in turn. Growing up in the Hicks household was a magical world of made-up words: cvarmporter, hooverum, sooby basan, ticky leamings – mostly made by us and adopted by him - and spontaneous science experiments, like his little jar of liquid mercury. He had lots of special phrases. “Water is for washing in, not drinking!” “Your mother’s run off to join a passing circus”, “that’ll put hair on your chest.” He introduced each of us, as babies, to ‘bottle coffee’ and some of us to his favourite ‘groeny’ cheese (politely known as ‘vomit cheese’, by the rest of the family, because of its delightful smell. It burns the roof of your mouth off).

One day he was feeding Susan some form of baby goop (when she was little) and clearly he thought it as vile as she did, so he took the spoon and flicked it across the kitchen to splat on the wall, continuing till the bowl was empty, the wall covered and us apoplectic with laughter. He cleaned up before Mum got back. With Dad you never quite knew what was going to happen next. If you got too close to him you had to be wary of being tickled, as his grandchildren have all learnt in turn. We were his ‘monsters’. They are his ‘imps’.

Clive had endless hobbies. As a student he collected original 78 jazz records from America. I remember his coin collecting, model building, stamp collecting, stone polishing, music and photography, not to mention DIY. He was meticulous and precise in everything he did, with a taste for scavenging and re-using stuff that only the war generation know how to do properly. He converted the loft at Brentham Way, doing all the work himself, coming up with ingenious solutions to practical problems. I did some work for them recently. “Who taught you how to do that?” he asked. “You did,” I replied.

Dad encouraged each of us to take up hobbies, especially creative ones. Whatever we were interested in he would take an interest in and support. He was the most open-minded person I ever knew. You could talk to Clive about absolutely anything. He and I regularly had long conversations, usually at midnight over toast and coffee until Mum thumped the floor to get us to shut up. Such conversations invariably ended with him giving me a book to read from his encyclopaedic library.

But Dad’s real passions were photography and architecture. We always had at least two holidays each year, camping, later with VW Combi vans, packed in as teenagers like sardines. Other people went on holiday to beaches or resorts. We toured castles, country houses, churches, cathedrals, ruined abbeys and stone circles. We might spend the better part of a day driving through miles of uncharted bog-land to wait, playing in the heather, being eaten by midges and enjoying beef stew mixed with crisps for supper, while he spent hours photographing a circle of knee-high boulders. And then just as we were about to start the long journey back to the campsite, Mum would say “Oh look, what a lovely moon,” and the cameras would all be unpacked again.

Clive’s special friendship with Bill Anderson led to an amazingly productive partnership writing illustrated books on architecture. Each book meant a wave of holidays collecting photographs: Cathedrals of Britain and Ireland, Holy Places, Rise of the Gothic, The Green Man. You see green men everywhere now as a cultural icon; the foliate head; the face of nature. They are present in practically every church and cathedral in the western world but had never really been noticed before. It was Bill and Clive that ‘discovered’ them and spread that awareness into our collective consciousness.

Being the oldest I got to be chief camera bag carrier. This meant standing for hours in the driving rain on the island of Iona, holding the umbrella to stop the camera getting wet while my boots filled to overflowing and my cagoule funnelled the rain down inside my shirt into my underwear. Happy days. I got to go with him with special passes to see the midsummer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge inside the ring. All the while Dad would be explaining what we were photographing, why it was special or how he was trying to catch the light.

We were in Chartres Cathedral on another midsummer solstice. In the south transept there is an angled grey flagstone containing a nail. Half way up the stained-glass window opposite, a clear piece of glass. On the 24th of June, the feast day of St John the Baptist, the shaft of light hits the nail precisely a few minutes before 2 p.m, an arrangement created to set the cathedral clocks, which Dad wanted to photograph. I had made friends with some young nuns who would gather every hour to sing plainchant in one of the chapels. While we were photographing they came belting past us - Nuns running - and grabbed me after them yelling “Le Baptiste! Le Baptiste!” We followed to the portal at the North Transept where there is an exquisite carving of St John the Baptist. The sun only shines on this statue briefly once a year on 24th June. It gave Dad one of his favourite photos.

Wherever we were, Dad would always tell us to stop and look; with open eyes and open hearts; to see and appreciate the wonders in full view around us. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was an incredible education into the history of these islands, the power of architecture, the power of religion and the way images and spaces can be composed to speak profound truths to the deepest levels of our psyche beyond anything we are consciously aware of. I cannot express how profoundly grateful I am for that. I feel enormously privileged to be Clive’s son.

At the end of this service the grandchildren will stand at the back with bowls of Clive’s precious polished stones. We would like everyone here to take one, or two, to keep or to leave somewhere special or give to someone special, as a tiny fragment of Dad, dispersed to the farthest corners of the four winds.

Now, as he requested, here is his favourite piece of music; Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, and some of our memories to share. The very last photo was taken just hours before he died. It is in the middle of your service sheets. You will see that he ended as he had always lived; radiant with grace and peace.

Source: Andrew Hicks


Obituaries 2016

Anthony Myers (1926-2016)

Dr Anthony Barton Myers (BDS 1950) passed away at age 90 on 23 November 2016. He was born in the Transkei on 3 October 1926. He practised dentistry in London, Johannesburg and Durban North. He was a well-loved dentist and was missed by his patients when he retired. He emigrated to Vancouver, Canada at age 84 to live closer to his son and daughter. His wife, Anne, died in 2002. He is survived by his son Nigel and daughter Phillipa and their families.

Bernard Tabatznik (1927-2016)

Bernard (Bernie, aka Bunny) Tabatznik (BSc 1946; MBBCh 1949) died as a result of a car accident on August 14. He was 89.

Dr Tabatznik specialised in internal medicine and cardiology and worked at Baragwanath Hospital in the mid to late 1950s. In 1959 he moved to the USA, where he became Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

As Chief of Cardiology at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore from 1961 to 1972, he put together the team that developed the implantable cardiac defibrillator, one of the top 10 advances in cardiology in the 20th century.

As a benefactor to Wits, he was responsible for the establishment of the Phillip Tobias Chair for Palaeoanthropology.  “I will always be grateful to Bernie for driving this initiative,” says Evolutionary Studies Institute director Prof Bruce Rubidge, adding: “I was struck by his great integrity, incredibly warm personality and his sincere wish to make a positive contribution in whatever way possible.”

His lifelong friend and fellow Witsie Dr Dennis Glauber paid tribute to him at the Wits alumni reunion in San Antonio, Texas, in October, speaking of his compassion, devotion and wit. “When I conceived the idea of a reunion of members of the class of 1949 in Seattle back in 1989, Bunny was the first to sign on and went on to host the next reunion in 1999. He was the only person to attend every single reunion since then and had every intention of being with you all in San Antonio today. Bunny did not only attend; he was integral to the fun and the fellowship. Others will no doubt talk about his devotion, both emotional and financial, to Wits Medical School.”

Bernie lived in Monterey, Virginia and is survived by his wife Charline Tabatznik, son Keith Tabatznik and daughter Ilana Brett.

Cecil Charles Enfield (1927-2016)

Dr Bernard Levinson (MBBCh 1951, Dip Psych Med 1959, PhD 1970) writes: “This is a lament for Charles Enfield (MBBCh 1951). He was my buddy in those glorious, unbelievably exciting undergraduate years. We were learning how to be doctors. It was the time of Rudolph’s Cellar (an infamous drinking hole), beards and corduroy trousers. With his rich, luxurious voice, it was also his time for acting on the Johannesburg stage, for dancing the male lead in the local ballet company, a time for playing league tennis.

“This was also the time we all fell deeply in love with Medicine. We were the class of 1951.

“Then we spread everywhere. Charles went to England. He married divine Sylvia, a psychologist, and began the study of Psychiatry at the Tavistock Clinic. Armed with the great John Bowlby’s magic, he emigrated to Australia and founded the first Institute of Family Psychotherapy in Sydney.

“Does every class have their own unique, flamboyant, colourful personality trailblazing fresh ideas? Charles was ours. Massively multi-talented. Devastatingly charming. Shifting easily from seriously wise to brilliantly intimate, caring and fun loving, in a disarming flash.

“With so many intense interests I know it’s so easy to lose one’s way. But so often the wrong train still brings us to the right station.

“Charles leaves his wife, two children, five grandchildren and an alive, vibrant International Association for Couples and Family Therapy in Sydney, Australia.” 

Danuta Kielkowski (1953-2016)

Occupational health epidemiologist Dr Danuta Kielkowski died in Johannesburg on 3 July 2016. She headed the Epidemiology and Surveillance section of the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) and the Cancer Registry until 2014. She came to South Africa from Poland in 1981 and started working at the NIOH in 1983.

Prof Gill Nelson, of the Wits School of Public Health, says: “Danuta accomplished many things during her career. She is the reason that South Africa has a comprehensive death certificate, listing several causes of death. Changing the SA death certificate earned Danuta her PhD from Wits in 1996, for which she worked diligently and persistently – persuading government officials and policy-makers alike that the change was necessary. She was a leading researcher in improving vital registration, including data quality, ICD coding and reporting of mortality in relation to occupational and industrial groups. Her other research interests included asbestos-related diseases, cancer mortality and reproductive health.”

When Kielkowski retired, NIOH head Dr Sophia Kisting paid tribute to the “collegial and inclusive manner in which she shared her skills”.

Darrel Plowes (1925 – 2016)

Darrel Charles Herbert Plowes was born in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal, and died in Zimbabwe, aged 91. After his war service with the South African Survey Corps (1943-1945), he studied agriculture, soil conservation and ecology at Wits under Prof John Phillips and graduated with a BSc in 1949. 

He then emigrated to what is now Zimbabwe and joined the Department of Agriculture as a pasture research officer at the Matopos Research Station, Bulawayo. By the time he retired he was responsible for agriculture and land development in the tribal areas of the eastern region of Zimbabwe, an ecologically complex area then serving a population of about one million. He helped to establish innovative and sustainable land-use systems for small-scale farmers.

Plowes had a deep and lifelong concern for ecological and environmental matters and his interests included birds, succulent plants, butterflies, orchids, archaeology, palaeontology, prehistoric rock art and photography. He was honoured in the names of several species. His collections of bird eggs, plant specimens and photographs, and his published work, were substantial contributions to science.

He helped to secure the La Rochelle property, the bequest of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld, as a botanical garden for the National Trust of Zimbabwe. The Trust described him as “one of the greatest all-round naturalists of Zimbabwe” and said: “We give thanks for the wonderfully inspiring life of this man and his love of all creation.” 

Doug Rodd (1924-2016)

Douglas Harvey Rodd (Dip Arch 1951, BArch 1975, MArch 1989) was born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, in 1924, and attended King Edward VII School. After matriculating, he started articles in his father’s accounting firm but after three years took up part-time studies in Architecture, qualifying in 1951 and marrying in the same year.

He then joined the prominent practice of Hanson and Tomkin, where he worked until 1961. He did most of the working drawings for the Geology building at Wits. After Hanson emigrated, Doug practised independently until he was invited by Monty Bryer to create the partnership of Monte Bryer and Rodd Architects. They were responsible for the design of the ABSA Towers building in downtown Johannesburg and the Wartenweiler Library at Wits. Their most significant commission was the Johannesburg Civic Centre, won in 1962. Doug worked with Bryer until the latter retired in 1980. He was then appointed as a part-time lecturer in Architecture at Wits, and also undertook a Master’s degree in Architectural Conservation, graduating at the age of 64.

As a heritage specialist, Doug contributed significantly to the documentation of Witwatersrand sites. In 1993 he was appointed by the National Monuments Council to survey mine-related buildings, and was involved in identifying the location where the Freedom Charter was signed. His colleague in Hanson’s office, Herbert Prins, paid tribute to Doug as an architect and heritage consultant: “He was utterly reliable, a brilliant draftsman, and did fine watercolour renderings of buildings. His work on the mining-related buildings of the Witwatersrand was excellent, thorough and significant, and I think, remains unique in this field of study.”

Doug is survived by his sons Howard and Mike and daughter Cheryl. His wife, Sylvia, passed away in 2006.

Father Bonaventure Hinwood OFM (1930-2016)

Edward Victor Hinwood (BA 1950, BA Hons 1951) was one of the founding members of the Students’ Anglican Society at Wits. He obtained an Honours degree in History and a librarianship qualification. In 1951 he was accepted as a member of the Catholic Church and he later went to Ireland to be trained to be a priest in the Franciscan order. In 1960 he was ordained in Rome, where he also obtained his doctorate with a thesis written in Latin. The Church later sent him to St John Vianney Seminary in Waterkloof, Pretoria, where he spent 35 years as a lecturer. He retired in 2010. He skilfully translated a great deal of liturgical material into Afrikaans and was involved in the latest translation of the Bible into Afrikaans. His interest in the language had arisen from his role as Catholic student chaplain at the University of Pretoria. He wrote poetry in Afrikaans and facilitated Afrikaans poetry groups, contributing significantly to the literature. He died aged 86 at the Holy Cross Home in Pretoria. 

Gerald Gordon (1933 – 2016)

Joseph Moses Gerald Gordon died in September 2016 at the age of 82. He had three degrees in architecture from Wits (BAS 1982, MArch 1987, PhD 1994), the Master’s thesis having been on Mies van der Rohe and the PhD thesis on a redesign of AutoCad.

Gerald was known for his creativity and his originality in design. The vernacular architecture he encountered during travels in Europe and the Middle East strongly influenced his thinking about using natural and appropriate materials in housing design.

He designed and built his own home on the rocky hillside of Linksfield Ridge, following in the footsteps of an earlier Johannesburg pioneering architect, Hermann Kallenbach, who as a stonemason, carpenter and architect also blended nature, site and design in close proximity to House Gordon. His cliff site was considered unbuildable but he constructed a four-storey home clinging to the rocks and incorporating many of his ideas about alternative technology and building methods. His children called the Gordon home The Cave, as the rear quartz rock face, so typical of Johannesburg’s ridges, was the wall of the house. One entered the house at roof level.

Gerald taught at Wits for 18 years, offering students insights that combined architectural history, theory and independent analysis to inspire African originality. His passion for design combined with cost savings led him to develop a new course called “Design under cost constraints”.

His retirement from the University coincided with the change in South Africa. He felt despondent about the continuation of monotonous township housing as a solution to the massive housing backlog, and returned to his low-cost building research. This resulted in the system of building now known as thin-skin construction. His website at reveals much about Gerald, his philosophy and his pushing boundaries to find alternative techniques.

Wits honoured him in his retirement with an appointment as Honorary Research Fellow in housing.

A colleague said he had “a deep emotional intelligence, a generosity across social strata, and a strongly egalitarian purpose particularly in bringing about social change by improving living spaces”.  He added: “Gerald believed that the definition of good design was a space where people felt at home. He loathed dead space, or pretentious, grandiose design.”

Clive Chipkin recalls Gerald as “an independent, highly creative talent”. Herbert Prins remembers him as “an erratic genius”.

He was married to Lorraine Gordon for 50 years.

Joan von Willich (1926-2016)

Joan von Willich (Leviseur) (BSc Eng 1949) was the second woman in South Africa to qualify as an engineer (the first at Wits; Ruth Damant was a year ahead of her at the University of Natal). She worked in Pretoria, Vanderbijlpark, Newcastle and Howick and retired in her 70s. Her husband, Wilhelm (Wiv), died in 2013. They had five children: Ilse, Dawid, Karen and Manfred von Willich and Tess Frost.

“My mother was born in 1926 and died on the day after her 90th birthday,” said Ilse. “She kept her sense of humour and exploratory interest to the end. At 88 she went ziplining (for the first time) on the Karkloof Canopy Tour. She had loved rock climbing and hiking all her life. She also learned some Esperanto in the last three years of her life. She liked writing short stories for children, and translated one into Esperanto for publication. She combined gentleness, love, laughter, adventure, integrity, caring and many other qualities that as a child I took for granted.

“She was a highly competent civil engineer. Despite her being small, female and quietly spoken, her authority as an engineer was never questioned by colleagues, students or employees.

“Being a female engineer wasn’t without its hitches. She was once offered a top job without the post (or the pay), and was expected to find this an honour because she was a woman. She told me later that it was the only time she had ever opened and shut her mouth several times without getting anything out. The event had a happy outcome, however, as it resulted in her starting her own consultancy, which she thoroughly enjoyed, and ran until she was in her seventies.”

“She had such confidence and pleasure in her profession,” said Tess. “I felt a fierce pride in her when she scrambled up buildings under construction. When I was at Wits, I met several lecturers who remembered her from their undergrad days, and were quite delighted to hear of her again. She was admired and liked at university. She was the rarest of teachers. Though she easily understood scientific and mathematical ideas, she was always able to break things down into simple building blocks to help others understand.”

Joan was in the legendary 1948 Class of Civil Engineering at Wits, the largest group of civil engineers to enter the South African economy in one year, and one of the most successful. Most of the 54 graduates were ex-servicemen who had been granted bursaries by Jan Smuts. The class put a plaque on the Hillman Building and published a volume of memoirs (compiled by Tony Williams, Don Walker and Don Muller). Sir Jack Zunz, who designed the Sydney Opera House, was among them. Another was Alex Combrink, who built the Johannesburg General Hospital. The class had regular reunions at the Wits Club.

Prof Mitchell Gohnert says it was decades before another woman engineer graduated, so Joan “was a bit of a maverick. At that time, civil engineering was considered a man’s job, and not a profession for a lady. I personally know several fellows from the class of ‘48, and they said that she fitted in with the guys, and was admired for her academic abilities.” 

He tells the story of the infamous 1948 class photo:

“The fourth year class finished their final year project the night before the class photo. This completed the academic programme, and the students celebrated the entire night, and alcohol flowed freely. The next morning the rather intoxicated group of students assembled at the appointed time for the class photo. The Head of Department (Prof Sutton, who later became Vice-Chancellor) was so infuriated by the state of his students that he swore that the class picture would never hang on the walls of the Hillman Building. Apparently, it was quite a job to take the photo without revealing the intoxicated state of the students. Sutton’s request was honoured for many years by subsequent Heads. However, after several years of searching, we found the photo in 2009 and placed it proudly among fellow graduating engineers. I am sure that Prof Sutton would have agreed that 61 years was sufficient punishment for the crime.

“The class of 1948 were the first group of students returning from the war. They were a rough and hardened bunch of guys, and they found Prof Sutton’s response absolutely hilarious. When I informed the class of my intentions of placing the picture on our wall, they had mixed feelings – they considered the event a proud moment in the history of the Department.”

In the class memoirs, Joan wrote that her mother had played an important part in making it possible for her to study science up to matric and to enrol for engineering. She said she enjoyed university life so much that she had to repeat a year. She enjoyed her career too: “the camaraderie of people – employers, architects, engineers, contractors – all engaged in reaching a constructive goal together was good fun.” 

Joanne Sklaar (1953-2016)

On 28 November 2016, family, friends, colleagues and students lost a special person – Joanne Sklaar (Lisus) (BSc Physio 1974, MSc Physio 2000).

Both in her private practice and in physiotherapy departments at Wits and other centres nationally and internationally, Joanne valued nothing more than the pursuit of ongoing professional education.

She was an honorary lecturer in physiotherapy for undergraduates at Wits (1980-2000), supervisor on the Master’s programme until 2007 and external examiner for the University of Stellenbosch Master’s programme (2006-2008). She ran many workshops and courses and was an invited speaker at conferences.

Joanne was awarded lifetime membership of the Orthopaedic Manipulative Physiotherapists of South Africa for her exceptional service and contribution to the profession.

The private practice she started in 1977 expanded to an association of 23 physiotherapists serving seven branches around Johannesburg.

Clinically she dedicated 38 years to treating injuries from the acute or chronic stage to the full rehabilitation of the patient. Her main clinical interest was the neuro-muscular-skeletal system and in particular the neck and shoulder, as well as management and prevention of chronic pain syndromes.

She also travelled internationally with sports teams and in 1986 and 1990 accompanied the South African sports teams to the Maccabi Games.

Joanne leaves her husband Barnett and children Daniel and Lara.

John Maree (1924-2016)

Johannes Bernardus (John) Maree (BCom 1949), former chairman of Eskom and Nedbank, died on 27 July 2016, just before his 92nd birthday. 

As the most distinguished graduate in the Faculty of Commerce in 1949, Maree received Wits’ Alexander Aiken Medal. He went on to an outstanding career in business and public service, retiring in 1997 as Chairman of Eskom.

According to Eskom’s heritage website, Maree and chief executive Ian McRae introduced a new corporate mission at the electricity utility, and oversaw a shift towards concern with customer satisfaction and employee performance.  He was also determined that electricity price increases should be below inflation.

Maree received the country’s Order for Meritorious Service and the Star of South Africa. In 1998, he became Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour.

A former Eskom director, Jac Messerschmidt, wrote in a letter to Business Day: “He had a knack for getting to the nub of a problem in a flash. He was a communicator par excellence, listening carefully to arcane technical arguments and then inspiring the problem-staters to become problem-solvers.”

Maree leaves his wife Joy, son Jacko, daughter-in-law Sandy, and their family.

Judith Mason (1938-2016)

Judith Seelander Mason (BA FA 1961) taught painting at Wits in the 1960s and early 1970s and was an important artist, represented in major collections, including the Wits Art Museum’s. She died in White River, Mpumalanga, in December 2016, and will be remembered not only for her work but for her “profound humanity”.

A former Wits student, Gregory Kerr (BA 1973), wrote in an introduction to Mason’s book The Mind’s Eye: An Introduction to Making Images, that “there was at least one person on the teaching staff for whom I had nothing but the utmost respect and affection, and that was the astonishing Judith Mason. … She was a shining example of the artist, the ham-fisted wrestler with the craft and sullen business of finding, but she was also something else, something so rare that it intoxicated. She could find the words and the images and the poetics to speak directly to the acolyte. … Reading The Mind’s Eye was to be taken back forty-seven years into that studio in the John Moffat Building, listening to the dark-haired young woman with the strangely plat accent and the twinkle – the inevitable twinkle – of anti-earnestness sweetening the stern seriousness beneath the monologue.”

The artist Kim Berman (BA FA 1982, PhD 2009) spoke at Mason’s memorial, saying “she was like a lighthouse flashing in the distance, a beacon for young aspiring artists. When I was a student at school and then at Wits, she was a legend … like the wise and compassionate guide who found a way to slice through the lies and deceit and the immorality of the abominable politics of the 70s and 80s through the depth and sharp wit of her paintings.” Mason found a way to inspire even the weakest student, Berman said. “There are many young people who can attribute their success to Judy’s encouragement.”

Keith Dietrich, writing for LitNet, said that on meeting her he “was struck by the unassuming, kind and respectful presence of this deeply humane, creative and visionary artist.” He said her “meticulously crafted” work was valuable for teachers of art technique.

At a retrospective exhibition, A Prospect of Icons, in 2008-2009, Mason herself spoke about the main threads in her work: “A lot of my work deals with pain experienced, the nature of pain inflicted, in order to explore the common ground we share and to refine our capacity for making choices.  … Bound with the pain thread … is a respect for animals.  … The third thread is religion. A lot of my work deals with religious themes, even though I have not been a believer in any recognised sense for decades.  … Religion and art seem to me to stem from the same set of overwhelming imperatives; a need to try to understand the world, a need to express that understanding, to find beauty in that understanding, and to communicate it.  … I have tried to make sense of grief and mortality. It has helped me to appreciate life and joy and the boundless grace of creativity.”

Many visitors to the Constitutional Court will have seen her triptych The Man Who Sang and the Woman Who Kept Silent (also known as The Blue Dress). This work refers to the deaths of anti-apartheid cadres Phila Ndwandwe and Harold Sefola – the former tortured and killed by security police, the latter hanged by the state.

Mason’s last exhibition was a collection of drawings, Undiscovered Animals, at the Abalone Gallery in 2016. Gallerist Ortrud Mulder wrote: “With her supreme command of the technique of pencil drawing, Judith Mason revealed in this show a strikingly vivid and diverse portrayal of human nature, revealed with almost surgical precision yet with the immense compassion and interest that fuelled all of [her] works.”

Judith Mason leaves her two daughters, Tamar and Petra, and grandchildren, Maru and Simon.

Keeve Steyn (1923-2016)

Abraham Pieter Keeve Steyn, founder of a well-known firm of consulting engineers and for many years a member of Wits’ Council, grew up on a farm in the Morgenzon district, was a boarder at Jeppe Boys’ in high school and graduated with distinction from Wits in 1945, with a BSc Eng (Civil). He then went on to Harvard for his Master’s degree and to MIT, where he earned his doctorate in 1949.

In 1952 he set up his firm in Braamfontein, and it soon won an important tender to survey the land for the future Sasolburg. The middle and late 1960s were good times for the firm and it received awards for projects such as the Richards Bay harbour and the SABC building.

In 1995 Dr Steyn retired from all positions in the firm. His interests included cars, the stock market, and playing the piano and accordion, and he served his community in various ways. He was married to Christine (Grey) for 71 years and she died just two months before him. They had three children: Marie, Ina and Danie.

Lindiwe Makhunga (1984–2016)

Lindiwe Makhunga was appointed as a lecturer in the Wits Politics Department in November 2014.  In addition to her Wits degrees (BA 2008, BA Hons 2009, PhD 2016) she was awarded a Master’s degree in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, where she was the top student in her class. Dr Makhunga was an inspiring teacher and mentor, a generous colleague and friend, a dedicated and exceptional researcher, and a committed and passionate feminist who had a great love for the African continent. She undertook ambitious fieldwork in Rwanda, South Africa and Sierra Leone, researching the relationship between gender and political behaviour. When awarded a doctoral research fellowship, she wrote that for her it meant “accepting a responsibility to ethical knowledge production directed at the development of the continent”.

Maurice Kibel (1929-2016)

Emeritus Professor Maurice Aaron Kibel (MBBCh 1952) was a pioneer in paediatrics and child health in Southern Africa. He practised in Zimbabwe for more than 20 years and at the Boston Children’s Floating Hospital in the USA before establishing the Child Health Unit at the University of Cape Town. He was involved in setting up a clinical trial site for the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative and mentored many clinicians. He edited the textbook Child Health for All, contributed to Fofar’s Textbook of Paediatrics, and co-authored First Aid for Babies and Children.

“He was a brilliant teacher and clinician and an inspirational and deeply humble human being – an extraordinary man who continued to contribute to the health of the most disadvantaged children and their families long after his retirement,” said Prof Heather Zar, Head of UCT’s Department of Paediatrics and Child Health.

He was UCT’s University Orator for a time and a talented singer, and published a collection of humorous rhymes called General Tso’s Chicken and the Seven Deadly Sins.

He leaves his wife, Leonora, his children, Owen, Shelley and David, and his grandchildren.

Source: SA Medical Journal

Monty Zion (1925 – 2016)

Professor Monty Mordecai Zion (MBBCh 1947, DSc 1958) died in Bnei Dror, Israel on 22 October 2016, aged 91.

He spent his housemanship at Baragwanath and was a registrar at the Johannesburg General Hospital. He specialised in cardiology under the leadership of Dr Maurice McGregor, whom he described as the “guiding light in the shaping of my career”.

In 1954 he went to London, where he received his membership of the Royal College of Physicians and spent time as a cardiac registrar. Upon his return to Johannesburg he started his career as a specialist physician in private practice and rented a suite of rooms from Dr Cyril Adler, founder of the Adler Museum of Medicine, who became a lifelong friend.

Seeking an academic association, he started working as a clinical assistant in the Cardiac Clinic of the Johannesburg General Hospital, enabling him to be involved in research while still running his own practice. With the development of open-heart surgery, Monty was appointed as a cardiologist to assist the surgeons. He performed significant firsts in South Africa, including pacemaker implants.

Disenchanted with South Africa as an apartheid regime, he moved to Israel in 1978, to be the Chief of Cardiology at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, known as “the hospital with a heart”, and Clinical Professor in Internal Medicine at the Hebrew University. He was involved in research and laid the foundation for his unit to become one the most prominent in Israel.

Monty was appointed a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and of the American College of Cardiology, and published more than 100 articles. Upon his retirement from Shaare Zedek at the age of 67, he opened and ran an ambulatory cardiac institute for another 10 years.

He was a keen lawn bowler and woodcarver.

Monty passed away shortly after Myra, his wife of 66 years, leaving his three children and their families.

Samuel Wilson Hynd (1924 – 2016)

Dr Samuel Hynd (BSc 1946) wrote to Alumni Relations in November 2015 to say that, at the age of 91, he had now retired.

He was born on 18 December 1924 in Glasgow, Scotland, to David and Kanema Hynd. They moved to Swaziland as medical missionaries when he was a few months old. He rode a donkey to school to begin his formal education in Bremersdorp (Manzini), and later matriculated from St Mark’s Secondary School in Mbabane.

He obtained his BSc degree at Wits in preparation for studying medicine in Glasgow and then went on to London for his graduate Diploma in Tropical Medicine. While at Wits, he lived with a family on Louis Botha Avenue and rode a bicycle to University every day. He was active in the Central Baptist youth group. He said, of being taught by Professor Raymond Dart at Wits: “God help you if you did something wrong in the anatomy laboratory and cutting up cadavers!”

He returned from the UK to Swaziland in 1950 and was ordained in 1958. Dr Hynd served the people of Swaziland in many ways throughout his life, as a Nazarene Missionary medical doctor, founder and builder of churches, clinics and schools, chaplain to the city of Manzini, coroner and marriage officer. He was a member of the World Health Organization, an elected Member of Parliament, Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Swaziland, founder of Manzini Medical Centre and, at the age of 85, founder of the ACTS II Clinic, which specialises in the care of AIDS patients. He served as personal physician to King Sobhuza II and delivered the present King, Mswati III.

His daughter, Dr Elizabeth Hynd, says he dealt with every patient holistically, body, mind and spirit.

In the foreword to his biography, Church of the Nazarene General Superintendent David Busic wrote that Dr Hynd told him: “Some people retire, some people re-fire!”

He received the Order of Eswatini from King Mswati III and an honorary DSc degree from the University of Swaziland. In 1998, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. 

He died in Manzini, Swaziland, on 18 August 2016. His first wife, Rosemarie, died in 1975 and his second, Phyllis, in 2008. He leaves his daughters Elizabeth Hynd, Audrey Emmet and Margaret Timney, his sister Dr Margaret Klein, and the children of the New Hope Centre children’s home, who called him “Babe Hynd” (Father Hynd). 

Seymour Papert (1928 – 2016)

Seymour Papert (BA 1950, PhD 1953) has been described as “the father of artificial intelligence”, “the world’s foremost expert on how technology can provide new ways to learn”, a “polymath”, a “revolutionary socialist”, a “pioneering force”,  and a “social reformer”.

Announcing Papert’s death in Maine, aged 88, MIT President L Rafael Reif said: “With a mind of extraordinary range and creativity, Seymour Papert helped revolutionize at least three fields, from the study of how children make sense of the world, to the development of artificial intelligence, to the rich intersection of technology and learning.”

Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner (BSc 1945, honorary doctorate 1972), spoke about Papert’s Wits days on the website Web of Stories: “A very important person in my South African life is Seymour Papert. Seymour was about my age, a contemporary of mine, and a brilliant mathematician. He was also very interested in politics and philosophy. It was as a medical student that I got to know him very well and he taught me mathematics and I taught him physiology – thank God it wasn’t the other way ar