Paediatrics/Community Child Health
Designatory Letters: 
MB Cape Town 1943, MRCP Edin 1953, FRCP Edin 1973

Frank Friedlander was born 11 days after Armistice Day in 1918 in Cape Town South Africa. His father Alfred was the A in C&A Friedlander and a senator in Smut’s government. He was educated at Wynberg Boys School where he excelled academically, and on the cricket field – even going to Nuffield week. After matriculating he broke ranks with the family’s legal tradition by choosing Medicine. He enrolled at UCT medical school when only just 17 years of age and failed first year on his first attempt (although finishing the year with a scratch golf handicap!). He repeated second year after contracting a near fatal bout of encephalitis mid-way through his first attempt. After graduating he enlisted and was sent to Karachi by boat to care for a load of mules, this no doubt led to his future aversion to all things equine. Upon his return he worked for a while at Addington Hospital in Durban and there he met Barbara Palmer whom he married

Barbara was a most beautiful woman who was the model chosen for the penny stamp during the Second World War. They moved to King Williams Town where he went into private practice, most successfully. However, he felt the need to specialize further and chose paediatrics because in his experience sick children often got better. They travelled to Edinburgh to the Royal College of Physicians where he surprised everyone by passing the notoriously tough examinations on his first sitting. Upon his return to South Africa he did a stint at Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg, then six months in Bulawayo before finally settling in Pietermaritzburg in the mid-50’s. By then there were three children – Jennifer, Basil and Carol and the family integrated well in the colonial setting, while Frank began to build his practice. At that time GP’s viewed specialists with great suspicion and so he worked hard to change the antipathy. In 1957 Barbara tragically died and Frank was left widowed with three young children. In 1960 he married Erna Nebbe, a nurse from the Dundee district who was running a TB clinic outside of Pietermaritzburg and together they had one daughter, Nicola born in 1964. In 1985 Erna was also taken from him and Frank found himself alone once again.

During this time in Pietermaritzburg he ran a very successful Paediatric Practice that served the entire Natal Midlands (and was an expert the diagnosis of childhood epilepsy). He continually sought to improve his knowledge, reading and attending refresher courses when ever possible. He also published regularly on a broad range of issues from childhood epilepsy, to infant supplements and medical history. Frank was President of the South African Paediatric Association in the 70’s, and Pietermaritzburg hosted their Conference. He was also a member of the Natal Society Library Committee and served on the University of Natal Executive. He sailed yachts with his son Basil, dabbled in motor car rallying and played golf and bridge. He was an active member of the Natal Numismatic Club and was also one of the first Jewish members of the famed Victoria Club in Pietermaritzburg. Above all at that time he was a father to his family and friend to all he knew.

Ken Boughton joined the practice in the late 60’s and they were joined a few years later by Steve Higgs. After Ken left to join Janssen’s Pharmaceuticals, Piet Duys joined them, and together they ran a thriving practice. In 1987 Frank married for the third time to Elsye Hoch and soon after they moved to Cape Town where he took up a post in the Paediatric Department at Groote Schuur. After four years he retired to become the Medical Superintendent at the Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital for Children where ironically he continued to care for mostly HIV-Positive children until a week before his death.

Frank will be remembered as one of life’s real gentle – men. He bore neither grudge nor malice, was slow to anger and quick to forgive and he was never judgemental. He fed his mind to the very end – actively attending journal club meetings at Red Cross Hospital whenever possible, and reading all the time. His interest in history was mirrored by his numismatic hobby, and he loved both cricket and rugby. He was an avid wine-taster, gourmand and lover of travel, art and music. He never lost his wonderful sense of humour enjoying limericks and comic verse. There were few ‘who-done-it’ novels that he had not read. And so while we have lost a very special friend, father and grandfather it was a great privilege to have shared time with Frank and we salute the life of a very special man.

Contributed by Nicola Hayward
(youngest daughter)