In Memory

Martin (Mits) Morford

Martin (Mits) Morford was a calm, courteous, and affable classmate. He joined us in 1961, when he repeated his matric year. Mits reported that his entire career at DHS had been uneventful, with his only claim to distinction being that he was the last person to be caned by Headmaster George Armstrong ("for jumping out of the old prefab classrooms'). The headmaster suffered a fatal heart attack later that day.

Mits spent almost his entire life in Ixopo, the little town made famous by the opening lines of Alan Paton's Cry, The Beloved Country:  "There is a lovely road which runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it".  Mits's mother was a veterinarian who established a strong family tradition, for both Mits and his brother Rippon became vets, and Mits married a vet too.

After school Mits did national service in the infantry and then attended the University of Natal in Pietermarizburg.  After that he went to the Onderstepoort Veterinary Insitute of the University of Pretoria and qualified as a vet.  He married a fellow student, Jackie Young, in 1971, and they practiced their profession in Ixopo. There, the grassy, rolling hills described by Alan Paton sustained large herds of dairy cows, and these were the primariy focus of the practice.  Mits and Jackie had two children, but Jackie died in 2000.  Mits remarried in 2008 and bought a house in Kloof for himself and his new wife, Marj, to live in after his retirement in 2014

Mits attended our 50th reunion in Durban in 2011, and a photo from that occasion captures his characteristically cheerful disposition:


Unfortunately Mits's health deteriorated after surgery last year and he passed away while in intensive care in Johannesburg, on 18 June.  He is survived by his wife Marj; his daugher Wendy, an accountant;  his son Michael, a doctor; and their families.


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25/06/17 08:45 PM #1    

Ian Robertson

The original entry mentions that Mits's mother was a veterinarian but I've just discovered that his father and his father-in law were vets too!

Mits's father, Leonard Morford, qualified in the UK and emigrated to Durban in 1936.  He worked for a local vet named Sydney Amos, and within a year he had married Amos's veterinarian daugher, Vera.   Leonard and Vera had two sons who became vets, Martin (Mits) and Rippon.  Mits also married a vet, Jackie Young.

That makes a total of six veterinarians (that we know of) in a single family... surely a record in South Africa!

26/06/17 02:19 PM #2    

Mike Johnston

Sorry to learn that Mits has passed away, but sadly once our health deteriorates, this may be a blessing and a relief. We were both in Form 6L, many years ago, and I only met Mits again at the 50 Year Re-Union Function, where we spent some time recalling those DHS 'School' Days of many year before. Mits was a very cheerful fellow.  Rest in Peace, Mits.

27/06/17 05:02 PM #3    

Roger Jones (Class Of 1964)

As someone who has moved about a lot over my 70 years, I am envious of the stable life Mits seems to have enjoyed, no pun intended with 'stable'.  I did not realise that Alan Paton's opening prose in his most famous work was about the road to Ixopo.

Many was the occasion when my parents and I would drive via Richmond down and across the Umkomaas and up across the plateau past the RC mission station on the left to Ixopo.  We did not stop much at Ixopo, most of the time was to family friends' and school friends' farms in the Donnybrook area (Eastwolds), or carried on to places in the southern Drakensberg area.

I wonder what Mits' family discussed at gatherings?  All Creatures Great and Small?

In 1960 I was at Penzance Primary School, (famous for the 'PD' trio of DHS academic winners in 1962: Sixth Form, Percy Deift, Fifth Form, Peter de Villiers, and my JC year's Peter Disler. Pity I did not have the same intellectual or academic abilities)..  Armstrong's wife was a teacher there, and 'Legweak' (puns don't come as awful as that)  was absent on compassionate leave after George Armstrong died.

Didn't Bill Payn also pass away in 1960?  I remember being introduced to him by my uncle a short time before I arrived at DHS in 1961.

Roger Jones (Class of 1964)

28/06/17 06:07 PM #4    

John Bartlett

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Martin “Mits” Morford here in Johannesburg on 18th June. He succumbed to complications following surgery a few months earlier. I had two links to Mits – the first through the class of 1961 although I hardly knew him at school. The 50th reunion was an opportunity for me to catch up with him again and reminisce. The second was at the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort where in the intimacy of small classes and most students being in residence, there was an opportunity to create a sense of a band of brothers – and the occasional sister as represented by Jacky Young who he married.

Mits came from a distinguished family of veterinarians with his grandfather, mother, father and brother Rippon all being in the profession His parents ran the practice in Essenwood Road near the school.  Rippon initially qualified as a teacher then changed direction to join us at Onderstepoort.

Mits studied at Natal University Pietermaritzburg where he was a keen member of the mountain club and distinguished himself by abseiling down the clock tower in downtown PMB.

At Onderstepoort Mits was a popular and participative classmate with a great sense of fun and humour demonstrated during his participation in fun student outside activities such as the annual Onderstepoort student car rally where navigation was mainly fuelled by “chilled brown sandwiches” to be found in a bottle when the participants lost their way.

During these years his romance with Jacky Young blossomed and they married. He spent time in practice in Howick, Durban and East Griqualand. They owned an Arabian Stud farm and were both involved in breeding and judging Arabian horses. They purchased a practice in Ixopo where Jacky attended to the horses and small animal side of the practice, Mits dealt with the cattle work. They had two children – Michael and Wendy. Sadly Jacky passed away in 2000 as a consequence of breast cancer. Mits married Marj in 2008

Mits was a down to earth fun loving person who was highly regarded by his classmates from Onderstepoort who maintained close friendships through the years. Modest by nature he was held in high esteem by his clientele. He enjoyed wildlife, played polo and took to scuba diving late in life and enjoyed it. He will be missed by his veterinary colleagues who knew him as well as the wider community with whom he came into contact.

A memorial service will be held for him in Ixopo on the 8th July at 11h00

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