IRVING LISSOOS (1937—2011) Urologist and Wits benefactor Dr. Irving Lissoos (MB BCh 1960) died in Johannesburg on 30 July 2011, age 74. His mother was born in London, his father in Lithuania. Born in Johannesburg on 2 March,1937, Lissoos grew up in Berea, attended Yeoville Boys’ Primary School, matriculated at King Edward School, and studied medicine at Wits.
After graduation he trained as a surgeon, specializing in urology. He pioneered kidney transplants in South Africa and served as secretary of the Urological Association of South Africa. He was in private practice for 38 years, and at the time of his death was still practicing at Milpark Hospital.
A stalwart of the Jewish community, Lissoos was a founding member of the Victory Park Synagogue and formerly served the King David Schools and Jewish Board of Education. He lectured and wrote on topics of Jewish and general historical interest and delivered the keynote address at the opening of the South African Board of Deputies “Jewish Johannesburg 120” exhibition in 2007. Irving Lissoos wrote that he was fortunate in having “great teachers and we lived in a very privileged society.”
A passionate Joburger, Lissoos promoted his hometown’s heritage as a tour guide at the Parktown Westcliff Heritage Trust, Soweto heritage tours and guided tours through the old cemeteries in Braamfontein and Brixton. A committed family man, he was married with five children and 11 grandchildren.1
1 Obituary Wits Alumni Bulletin and on-line report in the Heritage Portal, written by Mike Alfred on March 26, 2020, Irving Lissoos- coming of age in Jewish Johannesburg, www.theheritageportal.co.za.
JOHN ARTHUR LEE (1937-2014) Born in South Africa in 1937, John trained in epidemiology at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, where he worked on Salmonella poisoning.
In 1973 was awarded MD from Wits and in 2005 was elected FRCP. He served as a consultant physician in the Kingston, Richmond and Hereford area health services. After his retirement he enjoyed tennis, bridge and traveling, especially visiting family in South Africa. He died in Hereford on 3 November, 2014, age 77.2
BASIL STANLEY KUMING (1937-1997) Basil was born in Johannesburg on 4 January 1937, the eldest son of Chaim Kuming, hotelier, and Freda nee Lurge.
Basil was educated at ST. Andrew School, Bloemfontein, where he won the English prize in 1954. After graduation from medical school he trained at Baragwanath Hospital. In England he did house jobs at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, where he was influenced by Sir Benjamin William Ryecroft, ophthalmic surgeon. In 1961, he married Moira Jankelson and they had two sons and a daughter.
Basil achieved his FRCS in 1967 and returned to Johannesburg to practice as an ophthalmic surgeon. His hobbies included stamp collecting and woodwork. Basil died 5 April 1997, aged 60 years.3
3 Obituary. The Royal College of Surgeons of London.
EDWIN JOHN FELGATE (1937-2018) Edwin moved to New Zealand soon after graduation from Wits Medical School. He practiced in Te Awamutu where he died peacefully on 25 May 2018, age 83 years. He married Mary Jose Alexander and was father of Jimmie, Richard and Alex, and stepfather of Paula.4
VIVIAN IVAN McCUSKER (1938-2004) Born in Rouxville in the Free State, Ivan attended King Edward’s School in Johannesburg. After graduating from medical school, he briefly took over his ill father’s general medical practice in Aliwal North. With an interest in surgery, he received advanced training in Johannesburg and at the University of Cape Town.
In 1967, he obtained the FRCS (Edin), worked under Sir Andrew Kay as an Oppenheimer Research Fellow at the University of Pretoria. For 17 years he was in private surgical practice in Pretoria, followed by 10 years as head of clinical care at 2 Military Hospital, Wynberg. From 1988-1996 he served as chairman of the Association of Surgeons of South Africa. In addition, he served on the South African Medical Association. Ivan displayed wisdom, courage and integrity, was able to analyze information and present his thoughts in simple, clear language. He was beloved by his patients and admired by his students and colleagues. He retired to his farm on the Great Brak River where he raised cattle. He much enjoyed “sitting on his stoep in the evenings or at a braai with coffee laced with whisky, mulling over rugby and medical politics.” Vivian Ivan McCusker died 5 April 2004, aged 78 years.5
5 Obituary. South African Medical Journal. August 2004, Vol.94, No.8.
MICHAEL PLIT (1937-2020) Michael Plit was a pulmonologist, based at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. His death in 7 May 2020 evoked memories of his long and devoted relationship with Madiba, Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s most beloved son. After twenty-seven years in prison Mandela was released in 1990, suffering from prostatic enlargement, hypertension and an enlarged heart. In 1992, he moved to Johannesburg and selected Michael Plit as his primary care-provider.
Under Plit’s care, Mandela’s blood pressure fell from 200/100 to 140/85. “Normal for a man of his age. He exercises very aggressively in the mornings, and that is encouraging. There are no limits on his activities at all,” announced Dr. Plit in 1996, to the concerned nation. Michael Plit continued to treat Madeba during the period he served as president of South Africa (1994-1999) and until his death.
Over a period of twenty-two years: “Dr. Plit became more a friend than a hired professional, more a trusted counsellor than a physician. He was always there for Madiba, through thick and thin. …Madiba trusted Dr. Plit with his life. When Madiba didn’t want to eat we would tell him that Dr. Plit insisted he ate three meals a day. He would then oblige.”
In November 2000, Dr. Plit told the nation that 82-year-old Nelson Mandela “will undergo tests on the prostate after routine examination turned up high protein levels in his blood…There is no question of a threat to Madiba’s life at all.” Mandela underwent a difficult course of radiation. Nelson Mandela died in 2013, aged 95 years. To Michael Plit, Mandela was not only a patient but also “a good friend of mine.”6
6 Zelda Le Grange. Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir. New York: Penguin, 2014. You Tube interview December 10, 2013.