It is with great sadness that I report the death of my friend and colleague, Richard Anthony Venniker, on 27 October 2017.
Richard, the son of Tony Venniker, a well-known radio doctor and Durban-based family practitioner, was born in London on 2 July 1948. He was educated at the Convent School in Barkly East, De La Salle College in East London and at Durban High School, where he matriculated.
Richard studied medicine at the University of Pretoria, qualified in 1971 and did his internship at Addington Hospital in Durban. After serving as a lecturer and demonstrator in the Anatomy Department at Pretoria Medical School, he returned to Durban and commenced his registrarship in surgery. He did his primary and final examinations in Scotland and became a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Surgery of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Richard developed his interest in general and vascular surgery in the United Kingdom at Welwyn Garden City and Hull and served as a research fellow at St Mary’s in London. On his return to Durban in 1984, he started his vascular and general surgical private practice at St Augustine’s Hospital and later at Hillcrest Private Hospital. During his 33 years of practice, Richard was always scrupulously honest in his dealings with patients and their surgical problems and always wanted to do his best for any patient crossing his threshold.
Richard’s energy knew no limits. He loved horse riding and taking his dogs for a run. He completed 11 Comrades Marathons (winning 9 silver medals) and did 8 Dusi Canoe Marathons, once winning the father and son race with Jeremy. Richard paddled for South Africa, was awarded Springbok colours and participated at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Oklahoma in 2014 (he was a silver medalist in the Masters World Cup K1 and K2 races) and in Hungary in 2015. Richard also took part in surfski races in Mauritius and South Africa and was a founding member of the thriving community of surfski paddlers who call themselves the Geriatskis.
Richard owned and ran the Wenton Greys Stables in Summerveld. For horse enthusiasts, the stables offered beautiful sand, grass, derby and dressage arenas as well as an exercise track where he arranged and hosted many horse shows, show jumping festivals and derby championships to raise funds for equine welfare.
Richard was an enormous character, but was humble about his achievements. He was a dedicated family man, and was very interested in the activities of his four children and eight grandchildren. He bravely endured a severe myelodysplastic disorder for four months before he died. He will be sadly missed by Ginny, Caitlin, Jeremy, Sean, Belinda and his many colleagues and members of the paddling and equestrian communities.