Pieter George Desmond
(Des) Stumpf (MB.ChB. 1966)
Of brain cancer, at his home
in Durbanville, Cape, on February 4, 2002. One of Oranjemund’s
larger than life characters, Des was a very warm human being
who accomplished much in a busy life. In his early twenties he
gave up accountancy to switch to medicine and, like many students
of his era, soon ran out of money. Oranjemund beckoned as a way
of funding his medical studies and he spent a year on the mines,
returning annually throughout his student years to renew his
many friendships and keep the coffers full.
He early showed his talents
as a pianist and singer, leading a group known as The Bachelors
Gay (not a title that would have stood up today) and ran a series
of night club evenings in the Recreation Club that always attracted
a full house. His repertoire ran from the risqué and raucous
that shook the building, to sentimental ballads that had late
night revellers in tears. His annual Bums Convention - where
heaven help you if you wore anything you hadn’t found at
the dump - was a rowdy Tramps Ball at which the punch was served
from a series of toilet bowls and music supplied by a picaresque
collection of ragged scarecrows playing everything from comb
and paper to banjos, squeeze boxes, a tea chest and 44-gallon
drums. Needless to say, it was always a sell-out.
Hugely charismatic, Des loved
life and living, and always attracted a following. In an outstanding
student career he was elected class president, chaired the Medical
Students Council and was intervarsity cheerleader for two years
in succession. No mean sportsman, he also represented UCT at
squash. He graduated MB.Ch.B in 1966 and worked as a General
Practitioner at Touwsrivier, Durbanville and Mowbray.
In later years he increasingly
gave much of his time to the underprivileged. He served for 12
years as a Rotarian and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship.
Des also chaired the Tygerberg Division of the Community Chest
of the Western Cape, was national chair of the Prisoners Aftercare
League, a founder member and executive of the Northern Areas
Drug Action Committee and an executive of the Carpenters Shop
- a rehabilitation and upliftment facility for the street people
of central Cape Town.
As a consultant general practitioner
he gave his services freely to the Khayelitsha Town Council and
held various posts at Westfleur Hospital in Atlantis. In 1996
he was awarded the Distinguished Family Practitioner Gold Medal
for 25 years pro deo service and three years later the
Melvin Jones International Fellowship Award for dedicated humanitarian
service - a Lions International Foundation award.
Despite his failing strength
during his battle with cancer, Des worked a full weekly shift
in his free clinic amid the squatter camps of Khayalitsha in
the Western Cape until a few days before he went into a coma
and died a month later. He detested charlatan faith healers and
fought a successful campaign against them both in South Africa
and internationally. He is survived by his wife, Jeanne, and
children Rori, Heidi, Sonja and Margo.
For those of us privileged
to have known Des Stumpf, the world is indeed the poorer for
(written by Bob Molloy)