When news broke of the passing of Professor Davey on 2nd November 2023,two weeks short of his 98th birthday, it was received with a sense of sadness and loss-a” giant “had fallen.

Professor Dennis Davey, affectionately known as ‘Prof’ to his colleagues and friends,was highly and widely acclaimed in professional circles .A true gentleman who was always the epitome of sartorial elegance,he was accorded both great affection and deep respect on on a purely personal level.

Born  in London in 1925, he  trained  at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in the city, where he was taught by, amongst others, Sir Alexander Flemming the discoverer of  penicillin, before electing  to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

After spending  six months as a registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital in 1960 as part of an exchange programme, he returned to St. Mary’s Hospital as a lecturer,later becoming senior lecturer.

When Professor Louw,the then head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology passed away in 1965,Prof Davey was appointed his successor,a position he held very successfully for  25 years (until 1990.)


Prof. Davey addressed many a school group with an entertaining history of Die Oog, regaling the children with tales of crinoline dressed ladies climbing into a boat to have picnics on the island!

Not only did  Prof Davey develop the concept of subspecialist units including Gynaecological Endocrinology, Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic and Advanced Infertility Treatment within the public sector,he, together with Prof Wulf Utian,pioneered  the world’s first Menopause Clinic. He  was passionate about running his   mature women clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital until his retirement.It was here that I had both the privilege and the pleasure of working with him and think of him weekly as I am still working in “his”clinic.

With Maternal-Fetal medicine being a  particular interest of  his, he was amongst the first to recognise  the value of diagnostic ultrasound and the importance of  investing in appropriate equipment. Thanks to his visionary  insights,the first ultrasound unit in the country was established at Groote Schuur in 1970. Prof Davey was also integral in establishing the Peninsula Maternal and Neo-Natal Service (PMNS) which facilitated the triaging of pregnant woman from Midwife and Obstetric Units (MOUs) to secondary and tertiary level services.The “ obstetric flying squad “(a landrover with a registrar, a midwife and two pints of blood), was an integral part of this trail blazing initiative of his. Hence the  favorable maternal and perinatal outcomes in the PMNS compared to the rest of  the country ,all thanks to his excellent leadership.

The fact that our province continues to lead the way today is in no small measure attributable to his astuteness,foresight and far -reaching influence.Prof also played a major role in  the establishment  of the Maternity Centre Intensive Care Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital and the Maternity Centre as a centre of excellence in maternal-fetal medicine.

During Apartheid era,Prof  was instrumental in ensuring the racial desegregation of wards at Groote Schuur  – in fact,the very first wards to be integrated were the gynae wards!

Prof contributed immensely to many institutions of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in South Africa. He has published extensively both locally and internationally  on issues pertaining to women’s health but especially relating to blood pressure disorders of pregnancy and  to menopause.He continued this practice until well into his nineties!

Professor Davey undoubtedly leaves a phenomenal gap as one of the foremost pioneers and academic leaders within the fraternity of Obstetrics and Gynaecology within and beyond the boundaries of our country, but additionally leaves behind an outstanding and exemplary legacy of professionalism, humanity, service, scientific curiosity and research rigor. He has set an extraordinary example for those he has left behind of dedication to patient care, enthusiasm for academic excellence and of exacting commitment to ongoing research.

Even in his retirement, he continued to make major contributions to departmental activities as well as taking on community commitments such as Die Oog.


The following is a tribute to his involvement in the latter written by Pauline Pearce –

When Dennis moved into Farmsedge in 1998,he immediately took a keen interest in Die Oog.He joined Brian Gripper and Alwyn Lubbe,whose initiative

it was to create a secure conservation area and involved interested residents of Farmsedge in providing practical help such as the clearing of the Wetland.

Dennis had a remarkable mind and an amazing energy.In 2003 he became chairman of what now became known as “Friends of Die Oog” (FODO)and drafted a new constitution.Realising that funds were needed for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the area he contacted potential donors,including an Environmental movement in the USA which donated a substantial sum.He also instituted a partnership with the City Parks and Biodiversity management committee so that the city was aware of the unique heritage of Die Oog.

In 2005 he negotiated an ongoing donation from the Rowland and Leta Hill Trust.

Dennis took an interest in every aspect of Die Oog.He attended meetings of each relevant body:WESSA,Parks and Biodiversity,the Wetland Forum,the Department of Environmental Affairs and brought back the advice and knowledge he gained.Although ,no longer head of department,he was still involved at Groote Schuur but that  didn’t hinder  him from his full commitment to matters pertaining to Die Oog.

Every project that Dennis undertook,he did with enthusiasm and attention to detail.He researched the history of  Bergvliet Farmand its relevance to Die Oog.

When I became involved in FODO,I organised visits from the Grade 4 pupils at WPPS where I taught,from other schools and cub groups.Dennis addressed each group with an entertaining history of Die Oog,regaling the children with tales of crinoline dressed ladies climbing into a boat to have picnics on the island!They loved his stories and they loved him too.

Friends of die Oog were extremely privileged to have “Prof”at the helm for so long and for all that he contributed in so many ways.

Pauline Pearce

We at Die Oog extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to Prof’s family,colleagues  and friends.

We will be forever grateful for everything he contributed to the ongoing conservation of Die Oog.

Medical tribute by Joy McInroy, Die Oog committee member, with thanks to Prof Mushi Matjila(current Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology UCT) for giving permission to access information from his awesome tribute to “Prof.”