Reunions held in 2008: Class of 1968

28 - 30 November 2008

By Marjorie Raubenheimer


Rudolf Beekman, Leslie Berkowitz, Dick Camp, Elaine Clarke, Steve Comay, Jack Derman, Jan Hill, Margie Hardman, Peter Jeffery, Athol Kent, Rabia Lalkhen, Leo Leader, Roy Leaver, Gordon Ling, John McCutcheon, Joh Meiring, Irvin Modlin, Anna Muller, Alex Noble, Nur Parker, Ian Pearson, Angela Peters, Lydia Pienaar, Les Ramages, Marjorie Raubenheimer, Anne Peters, Jan Vermeulen, Derrick Verster-Cohen, Mike Wolfson, Dave Woods

(Click on the image to see a large version.)

This reunion was a wonderful celebration of fellowship, friendship and renewal. We have been privileged to gather and to look back on the past 40 years from the perspective of those who are now in their 60's. Personally, it seems to me that I have got to know more about the kind of people my classmates are than I did in 6 years of sitting alongside them in lectures. We have all gained life experience but what began at UCT on 12th December, 1968, when we graduated, has had a positive effect on lives and the world in general more than we could ever have imagined. This was evident in the Academic Meeting held on the Saturday.

Friday, 28 November

Registration and refreshments in the Barnard Fuller Building on the Medical School Campus took place at 9h00. There were delighted cries of recognition and sometimes a head-scratching "Now, who are you?"

We then toured the Student learning Centre with Dr Laurie Kellaway and heard how the method of teaching has changed from class lectures to learning in small groups with a facilitator. "Which is best?" we wondered.

The Medical School campus is like the well-known face of someone one meets after many years – a facelift here, an implant there - but still recognisable as the person one knew and loved so well.

A most interesting and worthwhile visit was then paid to the new "Heart of Cape Town" Museum in the old Groote Schuur Hospital building. It is an excellent museum that re-creates the drama of the first heart transplant 41 years ago. We found this especially evocative as we were 5th year students at the time and were in the midst of the events when the world spotlight fell on our own medical school.

At a cocktail party in the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine building that evening, we were introduced to the Dean, Prof Marian Jacobs, who enthusiastically assured us that the medical school was in capable and efficient hands that will take it into the future with confidence.

Saturday 29th November

Academic meeting

The morning's activities were the highlight of the weekend. It was exciting, impressive and humbling to hear what nine of our classmates have been up to in their lives and careers.

Rudy Beekman from the Leiden Medical Centre in Holland kicked off and told us briefly about the history of the surgical management of congenital heart disease and the exciting news that there is virtually no malformation that cannot be corrected today, even hypoplastic ventricular malformations, previously thought to be inoperable.

Margaret Hardman from White River in Mpumalanga most enthusiastically told us of her "Yes, we can" attitude on being faced with the TB/Aids epidemic and deciding to do something about it by setting up AIDS rural clinics that have been recognised as best practice. She earned our deepest admiration and respect and is a shining example of what can be achieved with the will to do it.

Dick Camp, retired professor of dermatology from the University of Leicester Medical School in the UK, assured us that dermatology is not for wimps anymore, as he has had to deal with both strippers and elephants in the course of his career!

Peter Jeffery, who battled to dissect the nervous system of the cockroach in first year Zoology next to me, has become a doyen of vascular surgery in Cape Town. He paid tribute to the contribution of Robert Goetz to vascular surgery at UCT and enlightened us, most hilariously, as to why giraffes do not faint after drinking water.

Athol Kent is the convenor of undergraduate education at Medical School and I think is destined for greater things on campus. He is also a closet entrepreneur, running a journal article summary service on the internet. Athol is a communicator and educator of great ability.

Irvin Modlin, our star from Yale University School of Medicine in the field of neuroendocrine medicine, spoke of carcinoid tumours, with lots of interesting anecdotes thrown in, including a slide of his most impressive wine cellar.

Dave Woods told us of his 40-year journey in the field of neonatal medicine. He has, through his conception of a perinatal education programme, enabled medical and nursing staff in rural areas to take responsibility for their own education, which, in turn, results in improved neonatal care and reduced infant mortality. This programme has spread as far afield as Pakistan and countries in South East Asia. Dave is presently a consultant for Unicef and is active in Egypt at present.

Leo Leader, after some slides of a seriously misspent youth, impressed us with his work in the field of foetal physiological research, especially prenatal foetal learning. Who thought education could begin at such a young age?

Roy Leaver, a Family Practitioner in Cape Town, has a specialist qualification in sports medicine, among his other degrees and a special interest in the effects of sport, both physical and mental, on the adolescent. He highlighted the importance of the effects of too much pressure on young people with unusual sporting talent.

Gala dinner

Throughout the weekend, the catering was excellent and the Gala Dinner in Smuts Hall was no exception, with a sumptuous buffet being provided by the Baxter Theatre Restaurant. We had our class photo taken and then sat down to enjoy the evening. The speaker was our own Irvin Modlin, who produced a hilarious slide show including many humorous montages, with our faces superimposed on appropriate historic pictures. The thought, effort and humour he put into this was greatly appreciated. The Americanisation of Irvin has happily revealed many sides of this multi- faceted classmate.

Sunday 30th November

A really good turnout enjoyed a stunning walk from Cecilia Forest to upper Kirstenbosch Gardens, led by Nur Parker, who has a great love of the mountain. Unfortunately, I discovered a serious lack of cardiovascular fitness in myself and was most impressed by the way the class leapt up the mountain path, chatting all the way, with no signs of dyspnoea.

We were then joined by the rest of the class for a really interesting guided tour of certain areas of the garden, led by Pat Bowerbank, formerly head of the Physio School. She concentrated on the medicinal angle of indigenous plants. Her information was technical, scientific and most informative.

Lunch followed at the Silvertree Restaurant, which, sadly, was our last event of the reunion. Much-needed fluids were consumed after the hot and sunny walk and goodbyes said with promises to meet, if not before, then at the 50th anniversary in 2018.


Throughout the weekend and indeed, in the whole year before the weekend, the superb organisation by the Alumni Office and especially Joan Tuff, has been evident. We are very grateful for all they have done to make a most memorable reunion weekend for the Class of '68.