Mavis Wolff ... played the flute

Mavis Bloch, born in 1922 to Lithuanian immigrants to South Africa, spent her early years in Potchefstroom, Transvaal. In 1933 the family moved to Johannesburg.

She began her career as a nursery school teacher. Her artistic bent and thirst for culture led her to develop a leaning towards always expanding her horizons. She developed many interests and always retained a desire for knowledge. 

Mavis married Jack Wolff in 1945. Adrian was born in London where they had settled so that Jack could continue with his ophthalmology studies. They returned to South Africa in 1949. Sons, Lucien and David, were born in Johannesburg in the early 50s.

Mavis and Jack flourished in Johannesburg. They built a wonderful home for the family and Mavis embarked on creating a landscaped garden, one of the finest in Johannesburg. Both Jack and Mavis became members of the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra, playing the clarinet and flute respectively, and held chamber music evenings in their home once a week. The household was filled with a variety of people from many walks of life, which was very stimulating. Many foreign musicians and physicians were often entertained at their house, which led to most joyous and inspiring times.

Mavis's good looks and fine ability to entertain became a magnet for visitors. She took a keen interest in fashion and had a sense of style that complemented her attractive demeanor. Mavis's interests included horticulture, music, anthropology and archaeology. She worked together with Professor Philip Tobias, who influenced her interest in anthropology. She even embarked on a trip to the Kalahari to study the Bushmen.

She travelled extensively both in South Africa and to different parts of the world whenever she could, to discover new cultures and peoples. This was before the days of easy jet travel or the Internet. She loved coming home and sharing her adventures in the form of slide shows and in-depth lectures to her family and friends. These included trips to South America in the 50s, the Middle East and Persia in the 60s, and India and Nepal in the 70s. She was ahead of her time, recording a social history with her camera and journal notes.

Jack and Mavis left for Israel in 1987, being keen Zionists. Here she set up a home and started a new life at a time when most other people were slowing down. They took on the challenge and embraced all that Israel had to offer. They formed interesting discussions groups, loved music appreciation, current affairs, ornithology, and archaeology, which gave Mavis huge enjoyment throughout her twilight years.

Mavis was a very determined individual and maintained her zest for life throughout. Her interest in current affairs, ornithology and plants never diminished. 

She was principled, with standards that she had set herself, and was not one for small banter and gossip. Intellectual dialogue, musical appreciation and cultural pursuits always permeated her way of life to the end.

She has left her children and many of those who came into contact with her with a love of life and whatever it has to offer. She will be missed by her children Adrian, Lucien, David, grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, a surviving brother and a large circle of friends.

– A tribute by her sons


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Adrian Wolff

Adrian Wolff was born in London, and after graduating BA Honours in Economics from the University of Cape Town, he immigrated to Israel. He worked in the field of economics and marketing.  He ...

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