Print version ISSN 0256-9574
SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.100 n.4 Cape Town Apr. 2010
Louis Frederik Coetzee (1940 - 2009)
Louis was born in Standerton and spent his early years there. His father, to whom he was devoted, was a general practitioner in the town, and from a young age Louis was determined to follow the same profession. Sadly, his father died when Louis was 15, and his further education was as a boarder at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg, where he was deputy head boy and captained the second rugby team. (He later played in the UCT Medical School team.) Rugby remained a life-long passion, and he was a staunch WP/Stormers supporter.
In his first year at UCT he met Jessica (daughter of Dennis Fuller, a thoracic surgeon, whom many will remember). They married in 1964. Much of his post-graduate education years were spent at Edendale and Baragwanath hospitals and Wits. He often spoke with esteem and affection of his mentors, Leon van Dongen, Dennis Lavery and Don Lithgow, and he carried their surgical skills and techniques into his practice.
In 1973, when I was in solo practice in Johannesburg, Louis asked whether he could join me. I was delighted and we immediately formed a partnership, with rooms in Jeppe Street and Rosebank, later consolidating practice at Sandton Clinic. It was a pleasure to work with him, and I was sad when he decided to move to the Eastern Cape after a holiday at Hamburg, near East London. For three years he took up general practice in Cathcart; then when his children reached high-school age he relocated to East London and took up a post at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, before settling into private O&G practice, which he continued for some 25 years. He developed pancreatic cancer early in 2009.
He is sorely missed by his devoted patients and staff at St Dominic's Hospital, where he always had a joke and a reminiscence to share.
When I retired from practice in Sandton in 1986, Louis lured me and my wife to East London, where I ran the maternity unit at Frere Hospital for some 12 years. What a favour he did us, bringing us to this beautiful area where we have been so happy. After I retired from Frere, Louis kept me busy with assisting, so we remained in close touch. I was introduced to his wide range of musical delights, as he always arrived in the operating theatre with a stack of CDs, which were played throughout the session. (His tastes at home ranged from opera to langarm and 'Hier kom die Bokke', but we were spared these in theatre.) He loved the Lowveld and his second home in Knysna, and would visit there as often as he could.
And so to a dear friend and colleague we bid farewell. His faith and the love and care of his devoted family carried him through the final months as his strength ebbed away.
Our sincerest condolences go to Jessica, their four children Anna, Jenny, Jonathan and Daniel, and six grandchildren Emma, Meghan, Jethro, Justin, Callum and Luca (Louis was so proud to have delivered three of them) and the extended family.