Reunion roundup

Reunions held in 2009: Class of 1984 reunion

March 2010

By Julie Geraghty (Clews)


Robert Bester, Paul Bohmer, Edwin Borman, Benjamin Bosch, Monty Brink, Astrid Buerger, Sheila Bulley, Jennifer Butters, Marc Combrinck, Pete Cowan, Ian Davey, David Dix, Jeanette Ford (Carlisle), Julie Geraghty (Clews), Pam Goldberg, Thomas Hanck, David Hedden, John Hedden, Brett Heilbron, Temlett Hockey, Leigh Holloway, Eric Jacobsohn, Richard Jones, Larry Kahn, Gary Kantor, Arnold Manley, Dee McCormack, Graham Monteith, Greg Munro, Linda Pakshong, Cathy Pikholz (Green), Martin Puzey, Patrick Semple, PJ Spafford, Dave Swingler, Fred Taute, Gail Todd, Lawrence Tucker, Corinne Vintcent (Golding), Martin Vogel, Heleen Vreede, Lynne Wolhuter, Des Woolf.

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

Academic Meeting Programme:

Healthworker Migration: Rights and Responsibilities - Edwin Borman
Interventional Radiology - Ian Davey
Trust but Verify! Practice-change based on industry-supported research: the case of EEG-monitoring to reduce
patient awareness under anaesthesia - Eric Jacobsohn
Working in Saudi Arabia - Dee McCormack
How did I end up Here - David Swingler
My Experiences with the Alexander Technique - Sheila Bulley
Post Practice Perambulations and a Twist on ICD Code Lookup - Fred Taute
Contemporary Techniques in Interventional Pain Management - Larry Kahn
Coronary CT Angiography: Checking Out What Might Kill Us - Brett Heilbron
Tokelau - Working in a Remote Pacific Island Atoll - Robert Bester
Osteoarthritis - A Growing Concern - David Hedden
The Best Care... Always Campaign - Fixing a Broken Health Care System? - Gary Kantor

Back in early 2004 I realised that it was coming up for 20 years since we'd all graduated, and I felt it was time for a reunion. I contacted Joan Tuff to find out what the situation was, to discover that the university did not put on a 20 year reunion unless there was local support from class members, and unfortunately no one was prepared to take this on. However at that point I did start contacting several old friends whom I'd lost touch with, with the help of a few Google searches. Joan told me that there would definitely be a 25 year reunion in 2009, so I informed as many classmates as I could to put the date in their diaries well in advance. I'd been to a 25 year Matric reunion which was fun, but somehow I felt that the Med School one would be much more significant, as we'd been through such a long initiation of fire together.

In one of the early reminder e-mails from Joan in 2009, I remember reading that unless you'd been awarded a knighthood, got an Olympic gold medal or received a Nobel prize, the reunion would be a highlight of the year ... and indeed it was! I must admit it was with a slight degree of anticipation that I drove into the very familiar car park next to the old Anatomy building before meeting everyone in the lobby. It was mostly an instant feeling of familiarity and recognition, knowing how much time had gone by and yet realising how most people's energy was still so similar ... there were a few exceptions though! Eric Jacobsohn was probably the most exceptional ... what a transformation from Wild Red to extremely respectable short-dark haired professor!! On the subject of hair, I was amused to hear David Dix's Canadian wife Susan's amazement at the difference in the men's hairstyles 25 years later, (compared to the 1984 class photo), when she remarked that we obviously didn't have any hair products in South Africa in the 1980s!

Appearances aside, it was a fantastic three days of reminiscing, laughter and catching up. Fascinating what different paths we have all taken ... like Robert Bester spending time working on a small Pacific island with very limited medical facilities, Ian Davey practising the most high tech North American medicine as an Interventional Radiologist, some like myself and Sheila Bulley pursuing Complementary Medicine, and some having left medicine altogether like Fred Taute who is president of a medical software company. There seemed to be a pretty even split between those who had gone into general practice and those who had specialised. Apart from Eric Jacobsohn, there are at least three other professors, David Castle (Psychiatry), Anthony Rosen (Pathology) and Gail Todd (Dermatology), and a seemingly disproportionate number of Anaesthetists, or I should say Anaesthesiologists ... Pam Goldberg, Larry Kahn, Richard Jones, Edwin Borman, Eric J, Owen Spalding and Gary Kantor! Also interesting how far afield we have all ended up geographically, with the major clusters in US/Canada, Australia/New Zealand, UK and of course South Africa. Sad how the political situation in the SA of the 1980s influenced so many of us to leave the country and never return. However the new Dean of the Faculty, Marian Jacobs, whom you will remember from Paediatrics, gave a lovely speech at the cocktail party and encouraged us to make links with the medical school and GSH and to contribute through 'donations' of our time and expertise through teaching, research collaboration etc.

On the Saturday evening we had a class photograph followed by gala dinner held in the Smuts Hall dining room, with a wonderful speech by Prof Solly Benatar, who was himself celebrating the 50 year anniversary of his arrival at Smuts from Zimbabwe to start his medical training. He pointed out some of the differences in the current curriculum, particularly pointing out the lack of teaching of critical thinking in our day. The medical students are now taught in much smaller groups led by a tutor who does not necessarily have any medical training, but whose job it is to guide them through a largely problem-based learning approach.

It was very sad to learn of the deaths of four classmates: Carlyn Bridgens to cancer in her late 20's; Jens Mielke as a passenger in a light plane crash taking off from Harare Airport; and Julian Platts in June 2008 to Hodgkin's disease.

I was unable to go to the final day's events, a walk in Kirstenbosch led by Patrick Semple followed by a family picnic in the gardens. Many people had brought their families with them, and were staying in South Africa for Christmas. It was wonderful to be in Cape Town again, although I have visited every year as my family still live there, however some people had not been back for many years. It was interesting to get a view of Somerset Hospital from the Waterfront car park, it always seemed so remote and yet is now on the doorstep of the tourist hub of the city ... and what a beautiful city it is.

Some of us agreed that it was far too long to wait another 15 years for the next reunion and that we hope to make our own arrangements to meet up with each other sooner. Hope to see those of you who didn't make it to Cape Town in 2009 at the 40 year one in December 2024 ... put that date in your diaries!!