Colin de B. Webb

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Colin de B. Webb

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24 October 1930 - 22 March 1992


[Source - John Wright for FHYA, 2016: Colin de Berri Webb was born in Pretoria on 24 October 1930. He attended Pretoria Boys' High School, and in 1948 went on to the University of the Witwatersrand on a Barclay's Bank Scholarship. In 1955, as a holder of the prestigious Elsie Ballot Scholarship, he proceeded to Clare College, Cambridge, to read history. In 1957 he took up his first university appointment as a temporary lecturer in the Department of History and Political Science at the University of Natal, Durban. There he met Fleur Gower, who was on the staff teaching Introductory French. They married in 1960. In 1962 Colin came as a senior lecturer to the Department of History and Political Science in Pietermaritzburg, the same year his eldest son, Jonathan, was born. Nicholas followed in 1964. Colin' s promotion in 1971 to associate professor was only his due. Then in 1976 he moved to the University of Cape Town as the King George V Professor of History, filling this, the premier history chair in South Africa.

With the death of Professor Colin Webb on 22 March 1992, both Natalia and the Natal Society have lost a much esteemed and long standing associate. He played a prominent role in the founding of Natalia and was the first chairman of its editorial board (1971-75), as well as a council member of the Natal Society (1965-75, 1988-92), and one of its vice-presidents (1988-92).

His was a presence that loomed. Yet it was much more than his sheer physical stature that indelibly impressed Colin Webb' s persona on the consciousness of all who knew him. For he was many things: teacher, scholar, administrator and public figure; but also husband and father of two sons, and valued friend and colleague. Authority emanated from him, but always tempered by his approachability, obvious integrity and fine sense of humour. Who can forget his beam of delight and high-pitched, trilling laugh? His company was always stimulating and could be enormous fun, for he was a man of wit and dramatic flair, with wide interests besides history and education. He could talk with real knowledge and insight on subjects ranging from politics, drama, music and fine art to veld types and domestic gardens. And though he could be formidable at times, it was with the short intensity of a summer storm, soon to pass. For he was a man of passion, who believed passionately in what he did and in the firm liberal principles which guided his actions.]


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