The loss of Dr Elton Thyse


Dr Elton Thyse

The Department  has lost one of its most trusted, loyal and devoted colleagues with the passing of Dr Elton Thyse on 14th April.

Elton, a graduate of the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand, and with industrial experience at De Beers, joined the Department in 2003 to manage the mineral processing facilities used at that time by all the tertiary institutions in the Western Cape. From 2006 he became the department’s facilities manager, with significant responsibility for the management and coordination of the physical infrastructure of the department. In addition he was responsible for occupational health and safety and was the key figure in the management and coordination of all undergraduate experimental programmes in the department. Elton also provided invaluable support to postgraduate students with their experimental work.

In spite of the difficult demands of his position, Elton completed his MScEng part time in 2008. Undaunted, he  started his part time PhD on the effect of iron end point on downstream processing of Peirce-Smith Converter matte, which he completed successfully in December 2014, in spite of an ever-increasing workload as facilities manager. His meticulous PhD study combined high temperature thermochemistry, mineralogy, microscopy and other related techniques of mineral and metallurgical analysis and physical processing in a comprehensive thesis. He published 5 international journal papers on the work, as well as a number of refereed conference proceedings. From 2015 Elton was appointed as Senior Lecturer in the department, fulfilling his dream of using his wide knowledge and experience to teach and help others.

Elton was much more than even this formal list of remarkable accomplishments suggests. He also knew everything about how the department worked – from having an air-conditioner repaired, to the operation of the plasma arc furnace, to the legalities of operation with hazardous substances. When anyone needed help, they turned to Elton, and he solved the problem – without fuss, or even apparent effort. His patience,tolerance and even-handed treatment of all he dealt with were exemplary. Elton’s devotion to the department and his quiet and utterly dependable service to the university were remarkable. Elton was always there to help – quiet, humble and completely competent for any task, no matter how long, hard, menial or unpleasant.

Liked and respected by all, Elton’s tragic and sudden passing leaves our greatly saddened department a much, much poorer place.

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