MACE 2010

Obituaries

Aldrich, Meredith (1944 – 2010)
Berry, Bryan (1921 – 2010)
Birch, Kenneth (1914 – 2010)

Calf, Malcolm (1931 – 2010)
Cort, Alexander (1918 - 2010)
Giesekke, Ernst (1941 – 2010)
Jawurek, Harald (1939 – 2010)
Klomfass, Roland Gerald “Roly” (1926 – 2010)
Koopowitz, J Ivan “Koopie” (1932 – 2010)
McCartney, Dennis Roux (1927 – 2010)
Meyerowitz, Basil “Sarge” (1929 – 2010)
Partridge, Timothy (1942 – 2009)
Shapiro, Julian ( – 2010)
Simmons, Kenneth Harlan (1933 – 2010)
Soggot, David (1931 – 2010)
Whitfield, Lesley Whitfield ( – 2010)

Aldrich, Meredith (1944 – 2010)

Dr Meredith Jane Aldrich (MA 1978, PhD (Arts) 1989), a lifelong educator and founder of Children’s Hours School in Geneva, N.Y., and former principal of the Pelham School in western Massachusetts, died peacefully of lung cancer on August 23 at her home in West Tisbury, surrounded, as she wished, by those she loved. She was in hospice care with Island Hospice. The daughter of Merritt James Aldrich, a Boston attorney, and Edith Carolyn (Borrebach) Aldrich, Ms. Aldrich attended Walnut Hill School and Sweet Briar College, graduating at the top of her class at both institutions. She obtained Woodrow Wilson and National Defense Education Act fellowships to study at Harvard University, where she earned a master’s degree in romance languages and literatures. At Harvard she met her future husband, Dunbar Moodie, and eventually settled with him in South Africa. The couple lived in Durban and Johannesburg, where Ms. Aldrich taught at the elementary school, high school and university level. In Durban, she set up her own multi-racial pre-primary school. During this period, she also gave birth to three children and enrolled for a master’s degree in educational psychology. which she obtained in 1978 from the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1976, the family moved to Geneva, N.Y., where Ms. Aldrich’s husband was appointed professor of sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Within a year, she had realized her vision of a school for small children based on the educational principles of Maria Montessori, supplemented and enriched with programs in the fine and performing arts. At one point Children’s Hours School had 120 students and went through fourth grade. The school, which was taken over by a teachers’ cooperative in 1986, continues to thrive.

Meanwhile, Ms. Aldrich had received New York state teacher certification through the department of education at Hobart and William Smith and enrolled for a PhD in developmental psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand. She obtained the degree in 1989. While writing the dissertation, between 1985 and 1989, she resided on the Island. During this period she was active in the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard, where she was action/legislation chairman and a delegate to national and state conventions. She also served on the board of the Chilmark Chamber Players and was a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Chapter of the NAACP. In 1990, she obtained a certificate in advanced study (with principal certification) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

From 1990 to 1994, she was principal of Pelham School in the Amherst-Pelham regional school district. During 1992 and 1993, she served as a Massachusetts fellow in the educational policy fellowship program of the Institute for Education and Leadership, traveling frequently to seminars and workshops in many regions of the United States. On sabbatical in 1995, she was a senior research fellow at the center for the humanities at Wesleyan University. In 1996, Ms. Aldrich retired to Geneva, where she established warm and nurturing relationships with numerous students from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, organizing an open house for tea on weekday afternoons. She audited classes at the colleges, sang in the colleges’ community chorus and was often seen at musical events. In keeping with her dedication to community service, she became involved with the Geneva League of Woman Voters where she was director of voter services. For many years, she was responsible for organizing candidate debates. In 2006, she returned part-time to teaching at the Children’s Hours School where she shared in awakening yet another generation of children to the excitement of learning. Most people who knew her remember Meredith Aldrich as a thoughtful and often quietly witty individual with a tremendous capacity for follow-through. She was a private person while deeply caring about others as well as wider public issues. She had an unpretentious and genuine ability to empathize with others and appreciate them for their emotional and intellectual gifts. Her loving way of being in the world enabled her to reach other persons at their very core, which is perhaps the reason children adored her. At the same time, she held others to her own high standards of commitment. As many generations of young people can testify, she had a way of reaching out to one’s best self, nurturing it and bringing it forth. Whether disciplining an errant child or comforting a grieving soul, there could be no doubt of her loving concern. She lived for others.

Ms. Aldrich is survived by her husband, T. Dunbar Moodie; her sister, Adriane de Savorgnani of London, U.K.; her brother, Merritt James Aldrich of Sequim, Wash.; her daughter, Mary Jane Aldrich-Moodie of Oak Bluffs; her sons, James Aldrich-Moodie of Rochester, N.Y., and Benjamin Moodie of Lewiston, Me.; and her three daughters in love, Christine Seidel, Sarah Jones and Caroline Shaw, respectively.

back to list

Berry, Bryan (1921 – 2010)

Bryan Berry (BSc Eng (Metall&Material) 1943) died on 7 October 2010, aged 89, from serious injuries he sustained when hit by a vehicle on 2 October.

back to list

Birch, Kenneth (1914 – 2010)

Architect, artist and philanthropist Kenneth Stanley Birch (BArch 1937) died in Melrose on 31 July 2010 at the age of 96.

Birch was born in Johannesburg on 18 May 1914. He matriculated from Jeppe High School for Boys. After graduating Wits University, he served for five years in World War II, after which he joined Anglo American.

Throughout his architectural career, Birch worked almost exclusively in the Southern African mining industry and in South African gold mining towns in particular. Notably, he designed the mining town of Carletonville.

Birch was a benefactor of his high school and alma mater, among others. The Birch Block at Jeppe Boys’ High commemorates its namesake, whose motto was “the boy is the father of the man”. Birch supported Wits University’s Barnato Hall Residence and the Faculty of Engineering; he donated a piano for the School of Music and had an Endowed Chair and Professorship of Family Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He also supported the University of South Africa (Unisa). The KS Birch Collections, preserved in the Unisa Library Archives, consist of Birch’s 84 sketchbooks of Africana interest, folios and personal photograph albums.

Birch was the uncle of renowned African writer Bessie Head, whose mother was Birch’s sister. In his booklet, The Birch Family: An Introduction to the White Antecedents of the Late Bessie Amelia Head, Birch wrote that he was duty-bound to compile the official family record in order that “the truth be told about the particular Birch family from which Bessie emanated” and to “counteract the many legends that have proliferated around the white antecedents and relations of Bessie Head”.

Birch never married, having lost his one true love in a car accident shortly after the war.

back to list

Calf, Malcolm (1931 – 2010)

Malcolm Charles Calf obtained a BA at Wits and a Higher Teacher’s Diploma. He taught at several schools in Johannesburg and the then-Rhodesia, before moving into Human Resources at the end of 1963. He had a very successful career, eventually specializing in Management Training. He became Group Personnel Executive of Unicorn Lines, and then a Management Consultant. In 1986, he was President of the Institute of Personnel Management and became an Honorary Fellow thereafter. His major interests aside from his career were always history, especially Germany from 1920 to 1945, Current Affairs and South Africa Politics (in which he was always very active, becoming Chairman of the Greytown constituency of the DP in 1981). After retirement, he was always involved in local affairs, and this year he was President of Probus West Coast. He suffered from diabetes for many years, finally slipping into a coma and passing away in his sleep on Wednesday 15 September 2010. He leaves his wife Anthea (also a ‘Witsie’), 2 children and 4 grandchildren.

back to list

Cort, Alexander (1918 - 2010)

Wits benefactor Dr Alexander Cort (MBBCh 1942) died on 20 October 2010, aged 92. Born 2 March 1918, Cort worked as a houseman at the King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban after graduating, and then worked in general practice in Ventersdorp and Delareyville. Between 1947 and 1950, he was registrar and clinical assistant in the departments of surgery, orthopaedics and urology at the Johannesburg General and Baragwanath Hospitals. In 1950, because of the death of his father, Alexander returned to general practice where he worked for a number of years. Between 1958 and 1960, he was in England achieving the FRCS and working in locum positions.

back to list

Giesekke, Ernst (1941 – 2010)

Thieves murdered Ernst Werner Giesekke (BSc Hons 1963, PhD 1965) on his farm in Ficksburg, in the Free State, on 23 January 2010. He was 69.

Born in Venda, Limpopo province, on 30 March 1941, Giesekke grew up on a mission station and attended Pietersburg (Polokwane) High School. After graduating, he researched nuclear magnetic resonance at the University of Illinois, USA, returning to South Africa to teach at the University College of Fort Hare, where he was Head of Chemistry and Professor of Physical Chemistry.

Responsibility for the design and construction of the new chemistry building, managing the chemical stores and a heavy teaching load brought about a protracted period of poor health, from which he slowly recovered.

After 11 years at Fort Hare, Giesekke accepted the post of Chief Scientist in the Mineral and Process Division of the National Institute of Metallurgy (Mintek) in Johannesburg, where he was able to resume his chemical research. While at Mintek, he became an expert in surface chemistry and mineral flotation. In 2001, he retired as Head of the Process Chemistry Division.

back to list

Jawurek, Harald (1939 – 2010)

The University regrets to announce the passing of Professor Harald Jawurek (PhD Eng 1977), an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering, who died at the age of 71 on Wednesday, 13 October 2010. Prof. Jawurek was associated with the School of Mechanical Engineering for over 40 years and obtained his PhD degree in the School for research in the field of boiling heat transfer. He will be remembered with great affection by staff colleagues and large numbers of undergraduate and postgraduate students for his kind and caring personality and great talent as a lecturer and research supervisor. He was appointed as an Honorary Associate Professor after his retirement and continued to help the School in many ways as a close friend.

back to list

Klomfass, Roland Gerald “Roly” (1926 – 2010)

A stalwart of the Anatomy Department of the Wits Medical School, Roland Gerald Klomfass died in Australia of pneumonia on 17 July 2010, aged 84. He had served under Professor Raymond Dart (Honorary DSc 1964) and Professor Phillip Tobias (BSc 1946, BSc Hons 1946, MBBCh 1950, PhD (Science) 1952, DSc 1967, Honorary DSc 1994).

Klomfass began his career at Wits University in 1952 as a laboratory technician in the histology division. In 1956, he was promoted to Senior Laboratory Technician in the Gross Anatomy division, where he was responsible for the receipt, handling and preservation of cadavers. At the invitation of the Wenner-Gren Foundation in New York City, Klomfass travelled abroad to study the casting of palaeoanthropological materials, and attended a course in Germany on the plastination of anatomical material.

A qualified machinist, Klomfass’ skills were evident in the preparation of mobile exhibits for the Hunterian Museum. He became highly proficient in the repair and design of instruments, and his skill led him to help devise instruments for the department of surgery.

In the early 1980s, as Chief Technician, Klomfass played a vital role in transferring the Anatomy Department’s extensive collections from the old Medical School in Hillbrow to the new school in Parktown.

After retiring in 2004, and plagued with poor health, he immigrated to Perth, Australia, with his wife, to join their two sons there.

back to list

Koopowitz, J Ivan “Koopie” (1932 – 2010)

Dr Joseph Ivan Koopowitz (MBBCh 1952) died on 10 March 2010 in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. He was 77.

Born in East London on 19 June 1932, Koopowitz grew up in Queenstown. After graduating from Wits University and later adding a diploma in forensic medicine to his qualifications, he returned to Queenstown with his wife, Brigitte (“Gitty”) (BA 1955), whom he met at Wits.

“Dr Koopie” combined an exemplary professional career with philanthropy and a deep involvement in the Jewish community; he was described by local newspaper the Daily Dispatch as “one of Queenstown’s most philanthropic sons”. While in private practice, he also served as part-time district surgeon from 1969 to 2000. He served on the committee of the District Surgeons’ Association of South Africa and was President of the Border Inland Medical Association. For seven years, he was the sole medical practitioner at Sterkstroom Hospital and was instrumental in securing a grant to establish the Ivan Koopowitz Discovery HIV Clinic there.

Koopowitz was an active member and President of the Lions Club and served for a number of years on the Town Council, including as Mayor. Three of his four sons are Wits Medical School graduates – Alan (MBBCh 1982), Leslie (MBBCh 1983) and Phillip (MBBCh 1985) – while his fourth son, Neville, is CEO of Discovery Health.

back to list

McCartney, Dennis Roux (1927 – 2010)

Wits University benefactor Dr Dennis Roux McCartney (MBBCh 1951) died at his home in Umhlanga Rocks on 2 February 2010 after a long illness. He was 82.

Born on 18 August 1927, McCartney enrolled at Wits University in 1945 after serving in the South African Air Force. He worked as a medical and surgical resident in a number of hospitals after graduating. He enrolled at London’s Royal College of Surgeons in 1954 and obtained a diploma in ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital in 1955. He returned to South Africa and was Registrar in ophthalmology and assistant ophthalmologist at Baragwanath Hospital.

McCartney was one of the early pioneers of contact lenses and a founder member of the Intraocular Lens Society of South Africa. He was in private practice for 38 years before retiring in 1997.

back to list

Meyerowitz, Basil “Sarge” (1929 – 2010)

Dr Basil “Sarge” Ralph Meyerowitz (MBBCh 1952) died of a stroke on 20 April 2010 in the United States. He was 81. Born in South Africa on 14 September 1929, Meyerowitz completed his surgical training at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He moved to New York to teach at Einstein Medical College, where he also served as a major in the United States Army Reserve. He married Miriam in the 1960s and filled posts as Director of the Stanford Surgical Service, Chief of Surgery at Chope Community Hospital, and Mills Hospital Chief of Staff. He practiced privately and pioneered bariatric (gastro-intestinal weight loss) surgery.

back to list

Partridge, Timothy (1942 – 2009)

Eminent geomorphologist, Honorary Professor of Physical Geography and ad hominem Professor of Cainozoic and Engineering Geology at Wits University, Timothy Cooper Partridge (BA 1964, BA Hons 1965) died suddenly of a heart attack on 8 December 2009, aged 67.

A distinguished scholar and world leader in the fields of geomorphology, geography, palaeoclimatology, palaeontology and archaeology, Partridge was associated with Wits University for most of his professional life. He was a member of the Board of Control of Wits’ Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, and Honorary Research Associate of Wits’ Palaeoanthropology Research Unit and Sterkfontein Research Unit.

Partridge was born in Pretoria on 7 December 1942. He matriculated from Parktown Boys’ High and studied further at the University of KwaZulu-Natal after graduating from Wits University. He worked as a Chief Engineering Geologist, at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and returned to Wits University as a lecturer in 1965. He established his own consultancy, which he led for more than 25 years, during which time he consulted to Professor Raymond Dart (Honorary DSc 1964), who had described the “Taung Child” fossil.

In a tribute, Partridge’s colleague, Professor Phillip Tobias (BSc 1946, BSc Hons 1946, MBBCh 1950, PhD (Science) 1952, DSc 1967, Honorary DSc 1994) wrote: “Partridge was a geologist whose extensive research output over 38 years bore testimony to a broad range of skills. His principal focus was on the recent geological past and his area of interest, southern Africa. His reputation among earth scientists with research interests in this area is unrivalled. His contributions to an understanding of the geological setting within which our earliest ancestors evolved are admired worldwide.”

Partridge was a Fellow of several South African scientific societies, including the Geological Society of South Africa, from which he received the Jubilee Medal in 1989. He held senior posts in global research groups, including the Institute for the Study of Mankind and the Climates of the Past pilot project, under the auspices of the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Union of Geological Sciences. In 1992, he led the Palaeoclimates of the Southern Hemisphere project of the International Union for Quaternary Research, in which some 300 scientists participated over a decade. Of significance in the 21st century, Partridge led the project on Long-term Climatic Change for the Foundation for Research Development Special Programme on Southern African Climatic Change.

Tobias wrote: “[Partridge] was one who loved life, who sparkled at dinner parties – or around a campfire – who could expound knowledgeably and often passionately on music, history, art and photography, people, wine and food. He loved travel and he loved people. His gentle and kindly manner, his human skills – for he wasn’t just a rock man on any caricature of that term! – made it a joy to work with him and to savour his breadth of experience, his originality of mind and his love of literature and language.” His final publication, Caves of the Ape-men, has been published posthumously.

back to list

Shapiro, Julian ( – 2010)

Dr Julian Shapiro (MBBCh 1952) died in October 2010, in Perth, Australia, of complications due to Parkinson’s disease.

back to list

Simmons, Kenneth Harlan (1933 – 2010)

A former Wits University lecturer in Architecture and, most recently, Associate Emeritus Professor in Architecture at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, Kenneth Harlan Simmons (BA 1950, BArch 1963) died of cancer on 6 July 2010 in Johannesburg. He was 77.

Born on 28 June 1933 in Oklahoma, USA, Simmons held degrees in biology from Harvard (1954) and in architecture from UC Berkeley (1969). A Wits University benefactor and activist known for his work in equal rights, urban planning and community development, Simmons was passionate about developing the potential of young black children in architecture and education generally, and about bringing South Africans, Africans and African-Americans together. He was instrumental in UC Berkeley’s divestiture from South Africa and in the establishment of the Black Environmental Student Association at that university. Simmons retired from UC Berkeley in 1994 and joined Wits University, lecturing in the schools of town and regional planning, and architecture.

Simmons loved jazz, books and art and was renowned for supporting community artists.

back to list

Soggot, David (1931 – 2010)

A human rights lawyer in former South West Africa (Namibia), Advocate David Henry Soggot (BA 1952, LLB 1954) died in his hometown of Johannesburg on 24 May 2010, aged 79.

Soggot was born on 6 August 1931. He matriculated from Parktown Boys’ High and studied Law at Wits University, where he later lectured Political Studies. In 1973, he represented nationalists from the South West Africa People’s Organisation liberation movement in a trial around public flogging inflicted by apartheid-era South Africans. Soggot’s persistence resulted in a permanent ban on arbitrary flogging. He defended a Namibian charged with complicity in the murder of the leader responsible for the floggings, and Soggot’s cross-examination revealed violent police interrogation practices in the “waarheidskamer” (“truth room”). During his career, Soggot advised Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota and black consciousness leader, Steve Biko.

Recreationally, Soggot enjoyed flying. He spent time in London with his second wife, Greta, and in France, having mastered French. In his final years, he found solace from poor health in painting.

back to list

Whitfield, Lesley Whitfield ( – 2010)

Doctor LesleyWhitfield (MBBCh 1952) grew up in Krugersdorp and graduated in medicine from the University of the Witwatersrand. He excelled in his endeavours in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at King Edward Hospital in Durban and became senior lecturer for some years. He commenced private practice in Pietermaritzburg in 1960.Whitfield had a calm and unassuming demeanour, and was possessed of a charming manner. He was highly principled with a strong sense of morality and was a doting father. He had an acutely analytical brain, a ready sense of humour and was possessed of a strong work ethic and sense of duty to his family, patients and community. The huge expansion of his practice bore testimony to this and he had to shoulder an increasing load.He had an astute clinical acumen, was a deft surgeon and was unfailingly polite to the nursing staff and everyone with whom he came in contact. The nurses adored him.He was committed to the community and served as secretary of the Pietermaritzburg Rotary Club for over 20 years. He had strong religious convictions and was a member of Holy Trinity Church.Lamentably his retirement was punctuated by health setbacks, but he remained uncomplaining to the end. He will be sorely missed by all those who came in contact with him.
(Source: http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global%5b_id%5d=47524)

back to list