It is with great sadness and regret that we learn of the passing away last Thursday night of Dr. Neels Venter, one of our long standing SASOG members, a colleague and friend.
After obtaining a BSc in agriculture with a major in plant pathology, Neels took the opportunity to study medicine, as a South African Defence Force student, from 1968 to 1972. After his internship, he specialized in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Pretoria, from 1976 to 1980, under Professors Evans, Knobel and their contemporaries. He always respected these mentors greatly. He also served the department as a part-time lecturer for many years.
Colonel Venter spent several years as a medical specialist in the South African Medical Service at 1 Military Hospital where he cared for the female members, wives and daughters of the military as gynaecologist. Here, he influenced and assisted many doctors and hesitant young military men with his dry humour and his unique way of handling and navigating the difficulties and intricacies of uniformed life, different ranks, cultures, genders, etc. – with respect and good humour. Neels later moved into private medical practice in 1991, first in Mafikeng and later at the Lenmed Randfontein Private Hospital.
As a gynaecologist, Dr. Venter was an intuitive, natural clinician who looked after all his patients with equal compassion and honesty. His enthusiasm and intuition for obstetrics and medicine in general earned him the admiration of his colleagues and the love of his patients and their families. As a surgeon who learnt from the iconic late Professor Jock Knobel, he had great talent and ability, but was unpretentious. He practiced medicine the way he approached life: with simplicity and modesty, coupled with a respect for nature, tissue, anatomy and for his patients and colleagues.
Neels was supported and loved by his wife of 45 years, Sue, who is also the mother of their three children. Sue was always at his side, but to her distress, due to current infection control restrictions, could not be there during his last sick bed after complicated essential surgery,. Just as he was recovering,, Neels unfortunately contracted Corona-virus infection and developed severe viral pneumonia which cost him his life.
Cornelius ‘Neels’ Venter will be sorely missed by his family, colleagues, friends and patients. We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, his children and grandchildren.
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