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News > Passing of friends > Francois Marais (1949S) passes away in Hermanus

Francois Marais (1949S) passes away in Hermanus

He never stopped being proud of Bishops and followed its progress with keen interest all his life.

We are very grateful to have received this informative and enjoyable overview of the life of Francois Marais (1949S) from Michael J.A. Mathews (1951S). 

Francois Marais died peacefully at his home in Hermanus on 18 June.

Francois came to School House in 1943 from Windhoek where his father was a medical doctor.   He was a house prefect in 1949, played wing for the second fifteen and generally contributed to the house and school in many different ways.   He went on to UCT to study law and, since his father was friendly with General Smuts who was Chancellor of Cambridge University, Francois went to Caius College to read law.    In order to be accepted for a law degree at Cambridge he had to have Matric Latin which he mugged up and passed within just six weeks!

At Cambridge he played wing for his College and participated fully in all the University had to offer, not least in the Cambridge Union’s debating society where he became a Life Member.

On his return to South Africa he practised as an Advocate at the Johannesburg bar and then started his own Public Relations company which was very successful.   Francois became well-known through his Round Table activities where he was National President.     He was also National President of the Institute of Marketing Management and Fellow of the Institute of Directors.    

During his career he appeared as compere or guest lecturer at hundreds of functions in South Africa and internationally.    He wrote a little book entitled Master of Ceremonies – A Guide to Public Speaking published in 2010.

On retirement in Hermanus he served with distinction as a Councillor on the Overstrand Municipality.

Francois concluded his book with a story about JK Rowling ending with the words of the Roman Philosopher, Seneca:                                                                  

  “As is a tale, so is life : not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”  Francois certainly lived a good life by any measure.

 Beautifully written by Michael J.A. Mathews

Francois' daughter, Taryn Austin, wrote to us in July and had the following to say:

 My sister and I wanted to send our own one (obituary) to you as he had such fond memories of Bishops until the day he died and these were pretty much his words.

Here follows the obituary that Taryn and Shan sent to us on 10 July, that we have now included in our tribute to Francois.

Obituary wirtten by Taryn Austin, loving daughter of Francois Johannes Marais

In 1943, aged 12, Francois started at Bishops, which ended up being one of the great adventures of his life. It was where he made many life-long friends and gained the confidence to take on life with all its facets. He spent wonderful years there playing rugby and cricket and taking part in athletics and swimming. He also enjoyed boxing, was captain of a cricket team and was involved in the Debating Team, the School Choir and the Choral and Madrigal Societies.

Francois often recalled growing into manhood surrounded by oak trees and traditions, music in the chapel and being taught by school masters for whom he had the utmost respect. He was a House Prefect in School House, chosen for his empathy and kindness towards all, especially the newcomers – characteristics he retained throughout his life.

He left Bishops to go to UCT to study Medicine, but after a year decided that Law was more his calling and was fortunate enough to be accepted at Cambridge in the UK and stayed in Caius College. He graduated as a barrister.

Francois’ career took him into Marketing and Public Relations, and he owned his own successful company for many years. He was also a prolific, popular public speaker who was invited to speak all over the world. He was widely travelled, widely read and widely admired.

He was a President of Round Table, National President of the Institute of Marketing Management in South Africa and Chairman of the Sandton Civic Foundation and, in his retirement, he served as a Democratic Alliance Town Councillor for Hermanus for four years.

He married his high-school sweetheart, Norma Greeff, in 1955, and they raised two daughters, Shan and Taryn, in Johannesburg. When, after 45 years of marriage, Norma sadly died of cancer, Francois returned to the Cape. He later married Elizabeth Curry and moved to Hermanus, enjoying many years with old friends and new, and was renowned for always having an amusing story to tell or fascinating fact to share.

He never stopped being proud of Bishops and followed its progress with keen interest all his life.

Our sincerest condolences to his widow Liz, his daughters Taryn and Shan, his sister Charmian and the extended family and friends.

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