obituaries


Elaine Frysh

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Elaine Frysh, a resident of The Gardens and a neighbourhood hero at the end of July. Her friends compiled this obituary.

Elaine Frysh made a lasting contribution to the community of Norwood in particular, and Johannesburg in general. She loved teaching children, feeding the hungry, helping the blind, expanding minds. She lived a life of service and loved every minute of it.

Born Elaine Schlapobersky in Johannesburg, she was the daughter of Phyllis and Israel Schlapobersky – he served as mayor of Johannesburg in 1968. Elaine married Manfred Frysh in 1964.  

Her work with Tape Aids for the Blind stretched more than 20 years. A former speech and drama teacher, she was a natural for recording novels but she also read volumes of textbooks for university students. She was deeply involved in administration and served on the Tape Aids board.

Elaine adopted the Norwood library. That meant, inter alia, every Saturday morning children in the neighbourhood would gather there for reading, English lessons, sandwiches and games that were both fun and educational. Sometimes she would take them to the movies, or to the zoo. In addition to teaching the youngsters, she enrolled retired teachers as volunteer trainers. They performed many tasks, including helping high school students prepare for matric maths. One of her students begins university in January. Another, much younger, is occasionally asked by his 7th grade maths teacher to teach the class. Elaine’s library students learned to love learning.

Elaine ran book sales for years to raise funds both for the Norwood Library and for Tape Aids, alternating between the two.  

When the Covid lockdowns kept her housebound, she found other ways to help. For the last year and a half she collected and organised books for others to sell at fundraisers. And when told about Beit Emanuel’s sandwich drive to feed the homeless in Hillbrow, from grandparents to toddlers, she volunteered for that as well, even though she was not a member of the congregation. Most people managed a loaf of sandwiches, or perhaps two. Elaine delivered at least ten loaves of sandwiches every week.

She tackled all projects with passion and enthusiasm. Her sense of style was legendary and her interest in everything around her was genuine. Her contributions to the lives she touched were devised with intelligence, sensitivity and tact. Each time she heard of a problem involving someone in her very wide circle, she carried out exactly what was needed – not an easy task.

Elaine was bereft when the lockdown meant her friends could only visit her telephonically – because despite her extraordinary energy, she was never robust and often in pain, and her health needed constant supervision. She passed on suddenly at the end of July. She is survived by her daughters Peta Frysh, Nicole Frysh, and Gina Frysh; her son-in-laws Darryl Tuchman and Laurence Gottlieb;  her grandchildren Mia Gottlieb, Matthew Baker, Jessica Baker, and Alex Gottlieb; and her sisters Sandra Joy and Jill Frankel-Chimes and families. She will be missed by all who knew her, and our neighbourhood is poorer for her passing.