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30 January 2018
Farewell Uncle Dicky A Life Well-Lived, A Legendary Legacy

UWC bids farewell to Richard “Dicky” Van Der Ross: A life, legend and legacy worth celebrating

The University of the Western Cape is deeply saddened by the passing of one of its stalwarts, Professor Stanley Ridge, who died on the morning of 30 January 2018 at the age of 76, after a long battle with cancer.

Stanley Gordon Mosley Ridge, who joined UWC in 1979 and served until his retirement in 2007 - only to continue as an Emeritus Professor - will be remembered as a former chairperson of and Emeritus Professor in the English Department, Dean of Arts, Vice-Rector: Academic, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor of UWC.

“We are grateful for the role Stan played in building our institution,” says Professor Tyrone Pretorius, UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, “and his commitment to empowering people from all walks of life during his many years of service to UWC.”

“Talk to colleagues, and as well as Stan the university leader, you will find him remembered as a man of great integrity, compassion, humanity, kindness and grace,” says Prof Duncan Brown, Dean of UWC’s Faculty of Arts. “He was a mentor to so many colleagues who now occupy senior positions, and was in fact instrumental in hiring many of them in the first place. He was a man of great enthusiasm, which frequently proved infectious. And he played a central role in steering UWC through some testing times, as well as shaping it into the wonderful academic institution which it is today.”

But Prof Ridge’s impact was felt far beyond the University gates, as an internationally-recognised expert in a range of fields: higher education and language policy and planning; Renaissance literature; 19th Century American literature; religion and literature; South African literary and publishing history across language lines; Discourse analysis; Sociolinguistics; and Translation Studies. He was a fine and well-respected scholar in his own right, and could no doubt have walked into a senior academic position in almost any academic institution in the world, but he chose to commit his considerable intellect and talents to UWC for almost four decades.   

He was a person with a fantastic sense of humour, and a passion for teaching and communicating with young people, known for exuding joy and gratitude. Over the years he earned wonderful friends and colleagues in many countries, including Norway.

Professor Ridge was the Academic Trustee of the Babette Taute Trust, which awards scholarships to students of English, and was Chair of the Council of the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown, and a member of the National Language Body for English. He was also awarded the English Academy Gold Medal for sustained distinguished service to English.

“Professor Ridge will be remembered as a true and humble gentleman - a scholar, a leader, a mentor, and someone whose intellectual contributions extended far beyond UWC,” Prof Pretorius says.

Opening Up The Doors Of Learning

Prof Ridge believed passionately in empowering students and fellow researchers, and had a unique and memorable way of doing this.

At a recent event honouring Prof Ridge as a Fellow of the English Academy of Southern Africa, Professor Miki Flockemann honoured him for his service.

“As a lecturer and teacher, his passion for the topic, plus his apparently bottomless reservoir of knowledge on the subject at hand, has left a lasting impression on those who have been taught by him (myself included). Added to the list of attributes one must not forget his flair for the dramatic. It is thus not surprising that past students continue to reminisce fondly about the lasting impression of Stan’s lectures. He has broadened our knowledge horizons by example, and his intellectual energy has been infectious.”

A succession of VCs, colleagues and students were lucky enough to receive Prof Ridge’s guidance and support over the years.

“It is hard to find words time to express just what Stan has meant to his colleagues and to UWC,” says Prof Brown. “Stan’s presence and influence were enormous, and he is greatly missed, already. He lived a life of which anyone could truly be proud.  As a colleague said to me yesterday, ‘A great tree has fallen.’”

The University community extends its sincere condolences to his wife Elaine, their children Gordon and Jeanne, and the rest of the Ridge family during their time of sorrow and grief.

“There are not many people in this world like Stanley Ridge,” Prof Pretorius says. “We are all poorer for his loss, but richer for having known him. He will be dearly missed.”

Further details on Prof Ridge’s memorial service will be shared with the campus community as they become available.