The French connection started it off for Whitaker family

09 December 2002

Longtime companions: The Whitakers, represented here by (from left) Marie, Joseph, Richard, Frank and Monique, have a relationship with UCT that goes back nearly 60 years.

WHEN BA graduand Joseph Whitaker gets capped this week, he brings to a close the most recent chapter in an ongoing relationship between UCT and his family that began nearly 60 years ago with a couple of French tutorials.

Joseph is the son of Richard Whitaker, a professor of classics at the University since 1989, and Jeanne Herbert, who completed her BA at UCT in 1972. Joseph's sibling, Monique, preceded his walk up the graduation steps in 1999, when she finished her BA with distinctions (both for philosophy and for her degree) and in 2000, when she received her BA Honours degree.

But the family connection all started with Richard's parents, Frank and Marie Whitaker, just after the Second World War, when Frank came to UCT as an ex-serviceman. It was here that he would meet Marie, who tutored him in French.

Amid a blooming romance, Frank graduated with a BA in 1947, while Marie completed her BA (1946) and MA in French (1947). Marie also lectured at UCT from 1954 to 1964, when she moved on to Wits from where she retired as emeritus professor in 1987.

The couple have been living in Paris since 1988, but travelled to Cape Town this week to attend Joseph's graduation.

And as Joseph and Monique have also tutored philosophy at UCT, the Whitakers have the additional distinction of providing three generations of teachers to the University, points out their father.

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