Farewell to legendary physio

Well-known Glenwood physiotherapist and Rotarian, Joyce Morton, died on 15 June.

MUCH-LOVED and respected physiotherapist and Rotarian, Joyce Morton, was remembered at a gathering at Berea Bowling Club on Tuesday night.

Joyce passed away in Durban on Thursday, 15 June at the age of 73.

Speaking at the gathering, Joyce’s son, Robert, said the number of people present who she had touched and affected, spoke for itself.

“My mom was an incredible person who set a high example for me to follow, one I can only try to live up to. She led a fantastic life and touched everyone she met,” he said.

Joyce attended Johannesburg High School for Girls (Barnato Park), matriculating in 1960 and graduated from Pretoria University at the end of 1963 to start her professional physiotherapy life at ERPM Mines.

She relocated to Durban where she spent the next five decades treating patients in her private practice.

She was a pioneer in sports physiotherapy and, with her late great friend and colleague, Judy McKeown, was instrumental in starting and running the sports special interest group of the South African Society of Physiotherapy (SASP). She was recognised as an expert in strapping and ran courses, passing on this skill to many physiotherapists.

She was also involved with, and lectured for OMPTG for many years. Her training with Geoff Maitland formed the basis of her interest and increasing expertise in manual therapy – knowledge which she happily passed on to the many students who she inspired.

Joyce served on the National Executive Committee of the SASP for many years and was awarded honourary life membership for her contribution to the SASP and the physiotherapy profession. She also served on the Physiotherapy Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Joyce initiated the Comrades Physiotherapy Portfolio in 1982 and for the next 35 years was an integral part of the Comrades Marathon. She organised the physiotherapy presence at Comrades, ensuring the thousands of runners received sorely needed physiotherapy. Even in her last two weeks of pain-filled life, she ensured the physiotherapy service to Comrades would be as good and professional as in all the previous years.

To her patients, she was a legend – caring, king and with clinical skills that earned her the moniker of “the lady with the healing hands.” She loved her profession and passed that love, passion and knowledge on to many young physiotherapists.

Joyce’s brother, Robert Featherstone, said Joyce enjoyed dancing and was the ‘jive champ’of the capital in the Free State as a young woman.

“We took dancing lessons together as youngsters and she always loved dancing. I remember her as a six-year-old going to see Swan Lake. She sat on the edge of her seat, spellbound by the music and dancing,” he said.

Robert lived with Joyce for a time when he moved to Durban and said they spent wonderful time together travelling all over South Africa.

“Joyce was a bird watching fundi and we visited many game reserves. It was part of the enjoyment I had with my sister,” he said.

Joyce loved helping people, both in her profession and in the community, and was an active Rotarian.

Speaking at the gathering on Tuesday, president of the Rotary Club of Durban, Jimmy Lee, said she joined the club on 5 March 1996 and was one of the most regular members.

“She hardly ever missed a meeting, unless it was Comrades! She loved being part of the Community Service leg of the club, and for this she was awarded a Paul Harris. She used to love giving us talks on birding and used to give us descriptive details of her trips, even as far as Tanzania, and more recently of her trip to China with Robert. She will be sorely missed by the Club and all who came into contact with her,” said Jimmy.

Joyce’s friend and employee, Melody Tempest, said Joyce was a legend.

“Her staff would like to continue with her practice in Glenwood, to ensure her name and her business lives on,” she said.

Lauren Walford

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