Dr Gerwin Davis
A Personal Tribute to Dr Gerwin Davis
It is with sadness that we hear of the passing of Dr Gerwin Daivs on 25th June 2016. Gerwin has had a long and fruitful life, spanning between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
Gerwin grew up ‘barefoot’ in the Eastern Cape, and studied medicine at the University of Cape Town. She specialized in Psychiatry and Pediatrics and became a senior lecturer in psychiatry in the then Child and Family Unit. She moved to London where she worked in child psychiatry and qualified as a Jungian Analyst. In 1989 she was approached by Sir Laurens van der Post who appealed to Gerwin to think about moving back to South Africa to assist in the establishment of the Centre for Jungian Studies. Although by then she was over 60 years old and had wanted to retire, she left London and joined Vera Bührmann, Patrick Tummon and Julian David in the training of the first group of Jungian Analysts.
SAAJA was formally established in November 1993 and together with Gerald Stonestreet, Gerwin held the post of Joint-President of SAAJA until she retired in 1995. This was followed by a time of travelling the world with her husband, Francois Roux, and it seemed to have been a very happy time for her, away from responsibilities. She and Francois finally settled in Helderberg Village in Somerset West. The last few years of Gerwin’s life were not easy in that Francois passed on and she became increasingly frail in body and mind. Her death is a release from this suffering.
We salute Gerwin for her willingness to have come to help establish SAAJA and be the training analyst and supervisor to numerous colleagues, including myself. I will always be grateful to her for her acute insights and interpretations which helped me enormously during turbulent times in SAAJA. Her rigor in keeping the analytic frame has been a life-long example to me in my own work. Gerwin had elegance and poise, a passion for life, dedication to her work and an ability to listen to the other and truly reflect.
I thank her for the example she has set for me.
It would be important to mention that Gerwin’s work in setting up blood banks (I think she was a hematologist before becoming a child psychiatrist) in every single province. Her work had, I believe, a major impact on medical services and general health care all over South Africa.
When I first came to Cape Town in 1991, Gerwin had just returned from London to help Vera set up the Jung Centre and training program. She took me under her wing and showed me all around and was my guide in all things South African. It was a great privilege to have had that experience.
With gratitude for having known her,
Herewith my initial reflections on Gerwin.
My clearest memory of Gerwin was of serving on the library committee with her, when it was formed in 1993.
I was offered the chair of the committee but declined in favour of Gerwin.
We had just begun negotiating with Sir Laurens Van der Post, the use of a generous grant from the McMillan family, for library book purchases.
I knew Gerwin would be a better diplomat than me!
And it certainly turned out to be a complicated set of negotiations over a number of years.
I also served on Exco with her and there I found her deeply caring for Vera Buhrmann’s well-being.
It warmed the heart to see this.
Gerwin was a great colleague to have during those formative years of the Cape of Good Hope of Jungian Studies and its transformation to SAAJA.
Her co-presidency of SAAJA with Gerald Stonestreet, was a demonstration of great maturity, by both.
She brought a depth of experience and a mature personality that was an important part of our evolving history.
She also had a wonderful laugh.
May she rest in peace.
Tribute to Gerwin Davis
Although having had an acquaintance-ship with Gerwin for some while, it was only when we were thrust together as co-presidents of the new found SAAJA that I believe I really got to know her.
It was an awkward alliance for us both as we supposedly represented opposing factions within the founding members. I remember that, as I warmed to Gerwin’s gracious manner and to her unwavering loyalty to her colleagues and associates, I felt strangely disloyal to those within the group that had not voted for her (to be president). I wonder now if she too had to contend with similar irrational notions.
Looking back I can only admire how Gerwin was always able to put aside all enmity and resentment. How she gave all her energy to making SAAJA a successful group and for it to be worthy of accreditation as a “training group” for Jungian analysts.
Though officially my senior in terms of training and experience, Gerwin never pulled rank nor made me feel as if I was still a novice.
Had it not been for Gerwin’s very special qualities, her integrity and fairness, the working relationship between us could have floundered hopelessly and SAAJA would certainly have suffered even more difficult early years than it did.
So: Thank you Gerwin