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Saluting Jaffa centenarian

  • Community103yearold
Dorothy Spitz, who recently celebrated her 103rd birthday at Jaffa (Jewish Accommodation for Fellow Aged) in Pretoria, is an accomplished musician and music teacher.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Sep 05, 2019

Born Dorothy Dison in Germiston on 27 August 1916, Dorothy “Dodo” grew up in Standerton in the “platteland” in the former Transvaal. She is the eldest daughter of Jenny, a teacher, and Levi Dison, who with his brother, Zundel, owned Dison Flour Mills in Standerton. Spitz’s youngest sister, Tibby, aged 91, lives in London. Her other sister, Nita, and her brother, Leon, passed on a few years ago.

At school in Standerton, Spitz showed talent at the piano from an early age. She travelled by train up to Johannesburg for extra lessons with Barclay Don, and Adolph Hallis. Later, she studied music at the University of the Witwatersrand, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree.

During World War II she served as a nurse in Durban, where she met dashing young doctor Mendel (Mendy) Spitz. They married in 1941, and moved to Kinross in the Transvaal (now Mpumalanga), where Mendy was the GP for the whole of the Kinross and Bethal district. She often helped out in the surgery as a receptionist.

They had four children. All attended Kinross Laerskool, and then went to boarding schools in Pretoria. Of her three daughters, two settled in London, and one died at an early age. Her son lives in Pretoria. Spitz now has nine grandchildren: four in London, two in Cape Town, one each in Bethal, Johannesburg, and Yangon, Myanmar. She has seven great-grandchildren: four in Cape Town, and three in London.

Spitz was active in the local Kinross community, establishing the library, and local branch of the Transvaal Women’s Agricultural Union (TWAU), organising the celebrated annual agricultural show in the Kinross Town Hall.

Generations of local children came to her for piano lessons, and her end-of-term concerts were legendary.

When Mendy retired in the early 1980s, they moved to Clifton, Cape Town, and lived there for 20 years in a villa overlooking the ocean.

A few years after Mendy died, Spitz moved to Jaffa, where she is still a resident. She frequently quotes her late mother, “Walk straight!” “Ladies don’t cross their legs!” and “No elbows on the table!”, never losing her sense of humour. We salute her.


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