Obituary - In memoriam, Dr Gerald Baise



OBITUARY

A TRIBUTE FROM THE KWAZULU-NATAL (KZN) CHAPTER OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN SOCIETY OF OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE (SASOM)

Dr Gerald Baise was an occupational medicine practitioner (OMP) and active member of SASOM for many years; he very rarely missed our regular SASOM meetings. He worked as an OMP in many industries over the years, for companies such as Defy, Plascon, Nampak, Dow Chemical Company, and Corobrick, to name a few. He served on the SASOM KZN Chapter Executive Committee from the early 1990s and as Chair of the Chapter.

Despite developing a chronic illness, and the subsequent deterioration of his health, Dr Baise continued to work until May this year when he handed over his occupational health post to one of our SASOM colleagues. He soon developed an acute complication of his illness and, sadly, passed away in hospital on 18 June 2019.

The following three short tributes, from his sister Sheila, and two nurses who worked with Gerald, provide insight into his character and dedication to his profession.

 


Dr Gerald Baise Photograph: Seth Baise

 

TRIBUTE FROM SHEILA, SISTER OF GERALD BAISE

“Gerald’s parents, Rachel and Nathan, were born in Zhaager in Lithuania. Being Jewish, they faced much discrimination and were both denied an education; with only a trade open to them to pursue as careers, they trained as tailors. They immigrated to South Africa in the first decade of the 20th century, married and settled in Port Elizabeth where they raised five children – four sons and one daughter; Gerald was the third son.

Gerald attended Grey High School and was a high-achieving student, excelling in both academics and sport. He was the first Jewish prefect and the first Jewish boy to win the Alec Brooke Scholarship to study Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand. He was a brilliant cricketer and was chosen to play for Eastern Province Nuffield. He was also a rugby referee at senior school level for many years, and his passion for rugby continued until his death.

He became a passionate doctor, always improving his know­ledge and keeping up to date with new developments. Because his parents were uneducated, through no fault of their own, he was acutely aware of the importance of education, and helped many people improve their lives through learning. Having experienced discrimination first hand, he was also very aware of the importance of equal rights.

He had huge artistic talent, and adored and had an impressive knowledge of classical music. He was a talented sculptor and exhibited his art at several exhibitions; his family members are very proud of his beautiful pieces. He was very well travelled and always returned home full of enthusiasm about everything he had seen and learned.

Gerald is survived by two sons, Seth and Adrian, six grandchildren, two brothers and one sister. His larger-than-life personality, vibrancy and wonderful sense of humour will be dearly missed.”

 

TRIBUTE FROM SR LYNNE KISCH, NURSING ­PRACTITIONER

“I first met Gerald when I worked for the Nampak Group in the 1980s. To say that I was terrified was an understatement, as he ‘came with a reputation’. After three months of visits to the factory, Gerald said to me ‘you can talk to me and call me Gerald…’. That was the beginning of a beautiful doctor-nurse-friend relationship. He was an amazing mentor and teacher; what I have learnt in industry is directly attributed to Gerald’s teachings. Over the years, we became friends, and he was someone I could turn to for advice. He was astonishingly generous with his time, his knowledge and his garden. The only topic that we did not discuss was the current state of rugby in South Africa; I am not a rugby fan and he just rolled his eyes and shook his head. There are many stories to be told, but I want to say ‘thank you Gerald’ for being a part of my life and, mostly, for making me the nurse that I became. I miss you so much – your laughter, your funny jokes and your friendship.”

 

TRIBUTE FROM SR BEVERLEY VAN DER BERG, NURSING PRACTITIONER

“I started working with Gerald in the late 1980s and maintained contact with him as a colleague and friend. As already stated by Sr Lynne Kisch, he was an excellent teacher and enjoyed sharing his expertise. He had a phenomenal wealth of knowledge in many aspects of life, and a wicked sense of humour. As the saying goes, ‘laughter is good for the soul’, and this is often needed in occupational health! He was also a very generous person. I have many stories which I will hold dear; a character of note   you will be sorely missed, GB!”

 

From all of us at the SASOM KZN Chapter, we will miss Dr Gerald Baise dearly as a great friend and colleague. We extend our sincere and deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. May his soul rest in peace.


By Dr Sean Cheevers
Member: SASOM KZN Chapter

e-mail: cheevers@ukzn.ac.za

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