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DEATH OF BRUCE PIPER (article first published : 2001-10-16)

Well-known educationist Bruce Piper has died in Durban. He was fighting cancer of the pancreas when he suffered a massive stroke. News of his condition was announced to the audience during last night’s Performing Artists Injury Network (PAIN) benefit concert. A sadly ironical coincidence as this is a fund set up to help professional artists in physical need. He died in the early hours of this morning (October 16).

A former pupil of DHS, where he later taught, he went on to study with Professor Elizabeth Sneddon in the late 50’s and he had an honours degree in drama from University of Natal Durban. He lectured at Edgewood College of Education (now part of UND) and at the university itself where he lectured in the education faculty. After his retirement, he continued to work in education as a consultant and advisor.

“He devoted his life to education and did a great deal on numerous levels, using his many wonderful qualities to the benefit of so many different people in the educational sphere,” says Professor Mervyn McMurtry, programme director of UND’s Drama and Performance Studies. “He was chairman of the Speech and Drama Association for more than a decade, running it meticulously and annually reaching thousands of young children throughout KZN. He will be a deep loss to KZN education on many levels.”

Drama was one of Bruce Piper’s major loves and after many years, he returned to the theatre and appeared in a number of productions for Pieter Scholtz such as King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as Our Country’s Good directed by Mervyn McMurtry.

“I can’t think of anybody who was more supportive of any theatrical event, opening or happening and if he’d been well enough, he would certainly have been at the PAIN benefit. He just loved a variety of theatre forms from musicals to Shakespeare and I valued his opinions on the theatre events he attended,” adds Mervyn. “He had enormous courage but the future looked bleak. He gave no word of complaint when I visited him in hospital but it was a blessing for him that he died so quickly.”

Bruce Piper leaves two children who live in the United Kingdom.




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