Obituary: Golfing great Rita Easton

2014-03-05 00:00

CHAMPION golfer, anti-apartheid activist and former Black Sash member Rita Easton has died in Pietermaritzburg at the age of 83.

Easton won the South African Women’s Golf title seven times in the fifties and was inducted into the Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame in 2009.

Easton also represented South Africa in Australia and played at the British Open, where she was beaten in the finals.

Her daughters Jo-Anne Hilliar and Gillian Brugmann recall their mother practising at home prior to tournaments.

“We remember the endless nights of putting practice after dinner as she putted through a round jam tin, and as a result she became known for her putting prowess!”

Golf also brought Easton into contact with Helen Suzman, leader of the Progressive Federal Party, who she met at the Houghton Golf Club in 1948.

“It was arranged that I would play a round of golf with her,” Easton recalled at the time of Suzman’s death in 2009. “As a somewhat arrogant youngster, I thought nothing of her golf game, but noted that she took the whole thing very seriously.

“Years later … We would sometimes play a round of golf together at the Royal Cape Golf Club when she had the time to escape from her parliamentary duties.”

After retiring from competitive golf, Easton became involved in the Black Sash and subsequently ran the Black Sash office in Durban for five years.

Easton was a prolific writer to the press, including The Witness, particularly on political matters.

She is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.

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