In Memory

Joseph Schmaman

Joseph Schmaman was a kindly and popular classmate.  At DHS he displayed a talent for art,  but otherwise he was, by his own admission, "probably one of the most notorious non achievers in the class". Despite this unpromising acdemic start, Joseph went on to a distinguished career in dental practice, teaching, and research.

Joseph specialized in reconstructive surgery for patients whose mouths and jaws were disfigured or malfunctioning as a result of birth defects or accidents. He became a lecturer at the University of Witwatersand, where he taught both undergraduate and graduate courses.  He was appointed senior specialist in the university's Maxillofacial Prosthetics Unit, and gave generously of his time and talents, especially to children who had suffered serious facial burns.

Joseph was highly regarded by students and colleages. One colleage, Alexander Rawhani, wrote: "What an inspiration he was for me, the love he had for dentistry and for art, and how he amalgamated those two so seamlessly in the incredible work he did for individuals who had totally lost hope.  He had an amazing giving nature, someone so kind, so humble, so peaceful, and so encouraging."

Beyond his professional ilnterests, Joseph had two main passions in his life: painting and nature. He became an accomplished artist whose works were shown in galleries. His main subject matter was African wildlife and scenery, and he gave encouragement to younger artists in the genre.  He also did still life paintings -- here is one of them:

Joseph owned a "bush cottage" at Marloth Park, a wildlife sanctuary on the southern border of Kruger National Park.  This became his second home, where he spent as much time as he could.  He became a qualified tour guide, encouraging visitors from abroad to have "a real bushveld experience".  In 2010 he posted on Twitter: "I need to decide whether to remain in my secure profession or follow my passion to live in the bushveld. Do we need excessive possesions??"  In 2014 he built two rental chalets near his cottage, perhaps with a view to eventually supporting himself surrounded by the wildlife he loved.

Joseph died on 14 May 2016.  He is survived by his ex-wife Robin,  his son David who lives in South Africa, and his daughter Leah who is an artist living in Florida. 


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20/05/16 10:48 AM #1    

William Tomlinson

Very sorry indeed to hear of Joe's death. He surely was a "notorious non achiever", combining a brilliant mind with laziness on an industrial scale! Judging by hs achievements after leaving school he must have gven up on the laziness.

Joe had a tremendous sense of humour. He was briefly a boarder (from memory, it was only one term, while his parents were overseas). Like most boarders he saw any opportunity to escape from the prison as a good one.

The local Anglican church was running confirmation classes, and a prefect came round to prep making a list of those who wished to attend. Joe took a chance and put his hand up.

The prefect exploded "Schmaman, you're a Jew! How can you go to confirmation??". Came the unforgettable reply: "I only wanted to ask: If I buy a foreskin and have it sewn on, THEN can I go?".

21/05/16 10:13 PM #2    

Jeff Linder

I barely remember Joe from school days ,but when were young adults each with 2 kids, we met somewhere and became socially friendly.. Some years later ,he and wife Robin got divorced and he moved to Jo'burg and from that time we lost contact. He studied Dentistry primarily because his parents insisted he become a profesional something.

I'm pretty sure in his early career he was not very happy,in fact I think he hated "digging aroung in peoples mouths"

He lived in Westville in a very nice house with old style suspended light fittings that were completely encapsulated with spider webs.This was Robin's suggestions saying they were incredibly beautiful to behold . She was quite artsy herself in many ways.He used to commute to his clininc in Overport by motocycle.. At day's end it was his custom to buy a newspaper from the vendor at his street corner,then hop on his bike and head home. 


On one occasion,he did this forgetting he had left a patient in the chair waiting for the freezing to take effect. An hour and a half later the patient had the presence of mind to find his home number. He returned to finish the filling..


He would let his lawn grow really long and lay pieces of wood and corregated iron down to attract snakes to move in.

He had a "snake room" in his house with about 12-15 glass tanks each housing a snake, some of which were extremely venomous.


On one occasion,he picked me up to watch him operate on some unfortunate person's wisdom teeth before going somewhere thereafter.He had a bottle of Vit E gel caps that he was popping like peanuts.He offered me a handful and I said I preferred having them in a salad.


After deciding that the potential for melanoma from moles was a proven fact,he took himself,his wife and 2 kids off to a placstic surgeon and had every visible mole removed from them all.

This was some intersting personality, who was not only an extremely talented artist but who could play about 5 different muscal instruments well. We used to play guitar together..Although he wasn't particularly well built,he had great strength as was evident during our bouts of arm wrestling etc.It's good to hear how successful and respected he became ,because the genius was always there.

He did have a great sense of humour which was compatible with mine,so on looking back,I would say we were really good friends for the longest time.

He leaves a son David and daughter Leah and as mentioned ,having lost touch about 30 years ago,I don't know if he re-married.

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