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Wednesday, September 6, 2017


(Heather & Michael Green. Pic by Pippa Green)

Michael Green died on August 30, 2017, at the age of 87. Born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), he moved to Cape Town at a young age, and started his journalist career at The Argus newspaper at 17, before becoming editor of The Friend newspaper in Bloemfontein.

Green was one of South Africa’s longest-serving newspaper editors. He was editor of the Daily News in Durban for 15 years and editor-in-chief of the Sunday Tribune for three years. He received a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University in the US in 1967.

He served on several arts and culture boards and reviewed the KZN Philharmonic and Friends of Music concerts for artSMart as well as writing his occasional Wine Notes column.

He had been suffering from a torn shoulder rotator cuff and was admitted to St Augustine’s Hospital for tests but died suddenly of a heart attack the following morning.

Colleague Graham Linscott, who writes The Idler’s Column for The Mercury penned this tribute in the newspaper:

“Michael Green, who died last week aged 87, was one of the last of a generation of South African newspaper editors who navigated a minefield of apartheid-inspired security legislation.

In spite of this, Green – like his fellow liberal editors in other centres – managed to maintain standards of integrity and that kept people informed as to what was actually going on; at the same time producing quality newspapers with high circulations.

It was not an easy task, achieving a balance between reporting the abnormal -  the increasingly deranged apartheid system - and the normal that ran in parallel - sport, music, the arts, business, social events.

Green ran the tightest of tight ships, insisting on standards of objective reporting and news presentation that did not waver. Himself patrician in style, he was also a highly entertaining writer. His Out and About column was a classic of the genre.

I worked closely with him for many years. His editorial conferences were outwardly formal yet often suffused with an undercurrent of irreverent humour aimed at the political poobahs of the day. They were great fun.

Michael Green – like fellow “English press” editors of his era – had the satisfaction of being proved right in the analysis of South Africa’s condition and he played his role in recording the country’s transition from apartheid.

In private life he was a gifted pianist and, right to the end, very active in art and music circles and very sociable. He leaves quite a vacuum.” – Graham Linscott

Stavros Anthias, who served with him on the board of Friends of Music, says: ‘I am so very deeply saddened by the passing of Michael Green. I was privileged and honoured to be friends with him, and I learned so much from him over the years. He was an excellent musician, a wine connoisseur of note, and most of all, he had a quick, dry and excellent wit. Time spent with him was always stimulating and rewarding. He will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace. Our love and deepest sympathies to Heather, and all his family.

Owner/editor of artSMart, Caroline Smart, says: “This is a huge loss. I first met Michael in the late 1970s when he was on the board of Durban Arts. I will miss his friendship, his advice and his huge contribution to the arts scene, as well as his quality of writing. Also his efficiency of delivery - his reviews would be invariably be delivered less than 24 hours after the concerts!”

Green leaves his wife, Heather, daughter Pippa, son Geoffrey and grandchildren Emma, Matthew and Naomi.

Green wrote Around and About: Memoirs of a South African Newspaperman which was published in paperback in 2004 by David Phillips Publishers - ISBN 0864866607. He was in the process of reading this for Tape Aids for the Blind before he was taken ill. As soon as a replacement reader is available, production of the book will continue.

A memorial service will be held on September 13, 2017, at 14h30 at St James Anglican Church, Venice Road in Morningside, Durban.