Fritz Eloff, who made a great contribution in many walks of life, including rugby football, died on 5 September 2013.
daar gaan ‘n man verby,
en dis verlaas.
Daar’s nog maar één soos hy;
bekyk hom goed.
Jan FE Celliers wrote that about General De Wet but it could so easily apply to Fritz Eloff, for he was a great achiever in life, always a gentleman, a professor with a cauliflower ear and a flattened boxer's nose. He was a man of great endurance.
Eloff did everything at great length. He lived till he was 93, he was the head of zoology at Pretoria University for 31 years, on the executive of the SA Rugby Board for 30 years, president of Northern Transvaal Rugby Union for 26 years, chairman of the National Parks Board for 16 years and chaired the Council of Curators, Transvaal Museum, for 28 years and served on the International Rugby Board for 27 years. He started early and went on for a long time.
He was 16 when he left Pietersburg Hoërskool and entered the University of Pretoria, 90 when he published a book on desert elephants and 93 when, earlier this year, he published his last book. Of course he wrote many papers beside that for he was world-famous as a scientist, especially for his work in the Kalahari and with lions, most sensationally the white lions of Timbevati. His advice on meeting a lion was to look him in the eye and talk to him and certainly not to turn your back on him.
In rugby Eloff was a player and an administrator. A wing at school, he eventually found that his speed was no good and mopved into the forwards eventually becoming a tighthead. He captained Tukkies for three years and played for Northern Transvaal from 1944 to 1950 as a lock, eighthman and prop. He was a Springbok trialist in 1949. Studying in England in 1951 on a British Council bursary, he played for Harlequins in London. His playing days over, Eloff coached Tukkies 1st XV for four years, starting in 1954 when Dr Eloff became head of the Department of Zoology at the University of Pretoria, for in the midst of all the rugby and boxing and working at the zoo he also advanced academically and from now on in the midst of many activities he advanced and enhanced the study of zoology at the university. He retired in 1985 after 42 years of service to the university.
In 1960 Eloff was elected vice-president of the Northern Transvaal rugby Union and in 1965 he succeeded Dr Gert Potgieter as the union's president and in his time Northern Transvaal was great. The combination of Eloff and Buurman van Zyl seemed unbeatable. He was the manager of the 1968 Springbok team on its tour to France.
When Professor Eloff was president of Northern Transvaal, Professor Danie Craven was the president of the SA Rugby Board, Professor Peter Booysen was the principal of Natal University, Professor Koos Vermaak, a world-renown physicist, was president of Eastern Province and Springbok Professor Johan Claassen at Western Transvaal There are no professors now!
Eloff became Craven's vice-president and actually took over as co-executive president of the unified SARFU when Craven died in 1993. He was part of the whole process of unification and chaired the first annual general meeting of SARFU in 1994. Eloff was the chairman of the International Rugby Board from 1989 to 1990, when the office was for two years only.
Eloff received numerous awards in his lifetime including the State President’s award: Order of exceptional service: Class 1 Gold (1987) and the State President Sports Merit award (1988).
When Eloff retired he and his wife Valerie (née Schraader) lived at Larmenier Village in Pretoria. Valierie died after a stroke last August at the age of 84. They had been marriesd for 65 years.
Frederick Christoffel Eloff was born on a farm between Polokwane and Louiis Trichardt on 18 May 1920. He died on 5 September 2013, survived by his daughters Elize and Marita, and two grandchildren.