Obituary: Winton Hawksworth

2012-03-28 00:00

AFTER a courageous fight against cancer Professor Winton Hawksworth (77), a retired lecturer and well-kown sports personality, died peacefully on Monday at Medi-Clinic in Pietermaritzburg.

Diagnosed with a cancerous tumour, he underwent surgery in January, but due to an infection, was unable to leave hospital and was in intensive care for about 10 weeks.

His son, Doug, said: “He was an extraordinary man who dedicated his life to serving other people and revelled in the success of other people.

“He touched the lives of tens of thousands of people and was well loved and well respected by his students.”

Hawksworth was born in Pennington in 1935.

Doug said that as a schoolboy in the post-depression and post-war years, his father didn’t have shoes and would walk the five miles to and from school barefoot.

His other son, Mark, said: “He was a very humble man and a very generous person. He would share everything with his brother and four sisters.”

Hawksworth attended Glenwood High School in Durban before obtaining a science degree at the University of Natal.

He went on to complete his PhD in chemistry and never left the university until the age of 60, when he retired after spending 36 years lecturing in the chemistry department.

“He had a tremendous sense of humour,” said Mark. “He always looked on the funny side and really enjoyed spending time with young people.

“He took pleasure in helping those who struggled.”

Hawksworth was involved in a variety of sport clubs and events and was active in promoting sports.

“He was an active sportsman himself,” said Doug.

“His first love was fishing and boats. As a kid he bashed out corrugated iron to make a thin canoe to paddle in.”

In 1992 he went along with former president Nelson Mandela to advocate for more South Africans to be allowed to enter the Olympics.

He was recognised in 2001 by the president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, for his “remarkable contribution as volunteer to the development of sport and olympism and to the promotion of friendship and solidarity among people”.

In his last 10 years Hawksworth become actively involved in the fight against the use of illegal substances in sport and was chairperson of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa’s anti-doping commission and a member of Fina, the international swimming federation.

He would go to schools, lecturing children on the dangers of misuse of drugs in sports. He gave his last talk less than a week before he was admitted to hospital.

He was also a loving family man, said Doug.

Mark added: “He was always a great mentor to my brother and me.

“He gave us a lot of guidance and support and was always there behind us … and was also there for our children.”

Hawksworth leaves his wife, Pauline, two sons, four grand-daughters and a grandson.

A memorial service will be held on Friday at 2 pm at Hilton College.

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