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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.99 n.3 Pretoria Mar. 2009




EM (Max) Sandler (31/05/1920 - 3/07/2008)



Max Sandler, a dear friend and respected colleague, died in Cape Town on 3 July 2008 at the age of 88 years. He was born in Heidelberg Cape on 31 May 1920, matriculated at Robertson Boys' High School in 1937 and together with three close friends, Sam Behrman, Julian Sennett, and Louis Blumberg from Robertson and Worcester started studying medicine in 1938. This group of friends jointly owned an old Chevrolet which they used to travel to lectures. As a similarly displaced 'country boy' I was fortunate to become part of their group, forging close and lifelong friendships.

Max, although a diligent and serious student, also had a deep and abiding interest in mathematics, science, history and literature and was in my opinion more inclined towards academia. He graduated MB ChB (UCT) in 1943, and went to London in 1946 to pursue his postgraduate studies in obstetrics and gynaecology, obtaining the MRCOG in 1949. He was on the staff of the Charing Cross Hospital from 1949 to 1953, first as resident registrar and tutor, and later senior registrar. On his return to Cape Town he commenced private specialist practice from 1954 until his retirement in 1985. He contributed articles and letters to the SAMJ and was held in high regard by his colleagues across the spectrum of medical practice. He was awarded the FRCOG in 1966 and was on the consultant staff of Groote Schuur, Somerset, Woodstock, and Peninsula Maternity hospitals.

He married Kayda Blumberg (Louis's sister) in 1945. They had two children - Michael, who lives in London, and Laura who lives in Cape Town. Kayda sadly died in 1979. He had one grand-daughter, Kayda, named after her late grandmother, and one grandson, Gideon, who tragically died in April 2008 at the age of 20.

After his wife's death Max distanced himself more socially and could not abide idle chatter and 'small talk'. I have no doubt that much of his social withdrawal might also have been exaggerated by his progressive hearing loss. He was, in fact, very scholarly with a sharp and enquiring mind, and could at times be very witty. Because he was inherently a very private person many thought him to be distant and abrupt, but those who came to know him better found him to be warm and sincere with an unwavering integrity and independence of mind.

Max was well-known in book-collecting circles and built up a large personal library although he allowed very few to view his collection. His library embraced among other subjects medical history, Jewish history (even though he disliked the practice of organised religion), and most particularly Africana and the Afrikaans language. He frequently lectured on these subjects, and published a book Dear Dr Bolus of the letters written by C Louis Leipoldt to Dr Bolus during his medical studies from 1897 to 1911. Of his great pleasures for many years was to study together with a colleague on Saturday nights, and original medical texts written in Latin. He was a leading member of numerous cultural societies, notably the Owl Club, the Medical History Club, and the Society of Bibliophiles.

We extend our condolences to his daughter Laura, his son Michael, and his granddaughter Kayda. We shall miss you, Max.


Morris Cohen

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