Obituary Monty Brink (10 November 1957 – 10 March 2019)
Derek Montagu Brink, the third youngest son of Drs Charley and Jan Brink, was born in Heilbron in the Orange Free State on 10 November 1957. His parents, who both grew up in the Cape decided to spend the first decade or two of their careers in the care-free surroundings of a rural Free State community as General Practitioners. Monty spent his junior school years at Heilbron Primary and then Fish Hoek Primary when the family moved back to Cape Town in 1966 when Monty’s eldest brother, Johan, started at Bishops (School House 1970) followed by Andrew (School House 1973).
Monty was at Bishops from 1970 to 1975 (School House 1975), and his sister Rosemary completed her post-matric schooling at Bishops in (1981)
The sudden and unexpected death of Monty’s father presented a dramatic turning point in 1971 in Monty’s second year at Bishops. It was a very difficult time for the young family to adjust to the loss of a father figure who had a very strong personality. However, the family was blessed by having an amazingly loving and caring mother, who took over her husband’s GP practice and for the next 15 years did everything for her 4 children, making numerous personal sacrifices to keep the 3 sons at Bishops. Thereafter she supported 3 of her children (Johan, Monty and Rosemary) through Medical School at UCT. She passed away a year ago at the age of 93 and at her memorial service Monty had many wonderful words to say about her. There is no doubt that his mother’s strong commitment to her family and her good values were an example that Monty maintained so strongly in his own family with his wife, Liz (ne’ Meynell), and 4 very active and strong-willed boys who also went to Bishops. Monty and Liz have passed on their wonderful values and enthusiasm for life onto their boys.
What helped sustain Monty during those early years at Bishops after the loss of his father was his passion for sport. Squash became his great love at which he really excelled throughout a period of almost 40 years, but he was also great at other ball sports such as tennis and he really had “an eye for a ball”! He displayed an amazing determination in all sports and went on to set a world record for continuous tennis playing with 3 other friends from Fish Hoek. This marathon event was monitored and supervised by Tim Noakes (Bishops 1966 or 67?) then an up and coming sports scientist. Their feat made it into the Guinness book of records.
Squash and sport sustained Monty throughout his life. He played squash at a very high level, playing for the Western Province Squash Racquet Association (WPSRA) 1st league for over 30 years (1977 to 2009), competing, often successfully, against professional squash players and representing his province at all age groups right up to veteran level. He not only represented Western Province at National tournaments, but he also represented South Africa in the SA u-23 Knights side to tour the UK in 1979. He was a member of the “invincible” UCT team which won 5 SA University titles between 1977 and 1983. Probably one of his greatest achievements was reaching the quarter finals of the world veteran championships on two occasions - in the over 45 category in England and subsequently in the over 50 category in Australia, which had a few former world champions competing in the tournaments.
He eventually had to give up squash due to back problems which had taken a hammering during the almost 40 years of the sport at such high intensity.
He also contributed greatly to the training of younger generations of squash players including his own sons and has received many accolades for his commitment and contributions to the sport. He was awarded the prestigious “Service to Squash” award by the WPSRA
About ten years ago he started cycling and very soon found a new sporting passion. As was his nature, he again could not do this in half measure and his cycling feats are legendary. He rode many Argus (Cape Town) Cycle tours in excellent times, reaching a peak last year when he completed a Cape Town Cycle tour in under 3 hours at the age of 60 – a pinnacle achievement which only the fittest of much younger cyclists achieve.
There were many other sports he loved and did well at – Tennis, Hobie-Cat sailing, windsurfing and later kayaking, even golf – the last, a relatively slow sport for Monty!
The most important event in Monty’s life was undoubtedly his marriage to Liz and they had a wonderful 35 years of marriage which they enjoyed bringing up four great sons.
After matriculating at Bishops, Monty studied medicine at UCT, first completing a BSc degree and then qualified as a doctor in1984. After a few years of practicing medicine as an Intern and junior doctor in various hospitals, Monty started specialist training as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. Monty had four degrees – a BSc, a MBChB, a MMed in O&G, all from UCT, and his Fellowship of the College of O&G from the Colleges of Medicine of SA – the last two in 1993. He commenced private practice at Constantiaberg Mediclinic in 1994. He subsequently also gained international certificates in minimally invasive and endoscopic Gynaecology Surgery and became a teacher of these skills to his colleagues. He also pioneered the use of the original retropubic TVT procedure for pelvic floor surgery in South Africa. He co-authored a book on female urinary incontinence. He was a part-time consultant at Groote Schuur Hospital and UCT from 1994 to 2002, and as a teacher and facilitator operated at many workshops at Groote Schuur and Tygerberg Hospitals and was invited to help with procedures as far afield as Zimbabwe.
His private practice in Constantiaberg Mediclinic rapidly became very successful and thriving – not only because of his medical skills but also for his wonderful bed-side manner and commitment to his patients. A testament to his excellent relationships with his patients and their families was the fact that 200 of his patients arrived at his practice on the day after his untimely death to express their shock, sadness and give their condolences to his secretary and his family.
He was an exceptionally driven and competitive individual – but in a good sense, always encouraging of others to perform at his level. He had a strong code of ethics of what was right and wrong and a strong faith which he imparted onto his family. He was a person of absolute integrity. His marriage to Liz and his family values are a wonderful example of how a family should function with love and compassion.
He was a wonderful and generous person giving his all to others. He was a sportsman in the best possible sense – fiercely competitive but always encouraging and helping others who could not match him. His strong faith and quirky sense of humour helped sustain him during difficult times. He made the most of opportunities given to him and in turn gave so many opportunities to those around him – he always lived caring for others.
Monty died suddenly and unexpectedly during the Cape Town Cycle tour on the 10th March 2019 with another near 3-hour time victory in sight. One moment he was giving it his all, telling his cycling companion “let’s go for it” as he was racing up Smitswinkel Bay Hill. Pumping the pedals furiously, the wind in his face, the hill up ahead, a marvelous view of the ocean and the southern Cape peninsula, living life to the fullest - and the next moment gone. No time for pain, no time for suffering, no time for regrets. No time of slowing down, no period in his life for facing the ravages of old age. No despair. Just life at full tilt and then gone. What a way to go – but it was far too soon.
Monty leaves his wife, Liz, his 4 sons, Nick (2008 Ogilvie), JJ (Jonathan James) (2010 Ogilvie) Derek (2013 Ogilvie) and Peter (2015 Ogilvie); his brothers Johan (School House 1970), Andrew (School House 1973) and his sister Rosemary (Post matric Bishops 1981).
He is sorely missed by his family and friends.
Johan, Andrew and Rosemary Brink