Keith Dumbell: 90th & 95th birthday celebrations and funeral

Update, June 11th, 2018

We had a High Church Anglican funeral for Keith in St Margaret’s Church in Fishhoek, Cape Town, , with his Very Reverend son-in-law officiating. Poems were read and prayers were said – and it is the only funeral I have ever been to where poxviruses made it into the remembrances, and one of the featured photographs was of Keith signing the declaration of eradication of smallpox. We had a restrainedly joyous time remembering Keith with family, with stories never heard by most.

Anna-Lise Williamson brought back video of two tributes to Keith from the Poxvirus Conference in Taipei, when Geoff Smith and Grant McFadden remembered him. I attach a Dropbox link to the slightly enhanced version.

Update, May 31st 2018

I am sad to have to tell everyone that Professor Keith Dumbell died a few days ago, at the age of 95, of natural causes. His funeral is set for 6th June, in Cape Town. I would be happy to pass on messages from anyone who knew him.

It was wonderful, though, to have been able to celebrate his 95th birthday recently, in the same manner and with many of the same people who celebrated his 90th. Thanks to Niki Douglass – again – and old friends and family. I have video of both occasions, and of informal talks Keith gave in Medical Virology, that I will be compiling as a video tribute in the near future.

Go well, Keith!

Ed Rybicki
May 31st 2018


I have written here previously on how our extended Virology community in Cape Town was regularly getting together to listen to Keith Dumbell talk on his early days in virology – and now we are rapidly approaching his 90th birthday, and we would like to get as many people as possible who know him / know of him, to send birthday wishes and greetings.

Preferably as a sound or video file, although text is obviously also great.  I will be incorporating it all into a video which we will give him – and may also put up for download, but will also send to his friends.  Get recording…Mike Mackett, this means you – and Upton, and Bert Jacobs…

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “Keith Dumbell: 90th & 95th birthday celebrations and funeral”

  1. Isak J Raubenheimer Says:

    Keith! We were and are priveleged to have been called friends! He leaves our world and us having fond memories! Never had a nasty word to say about anyone! Positive , happy and never complaining! Always had time for a good joke!
    Sorry I forgot to let you have the last Grappa together with me!


    Very interesting Ed and also quite sad.
    My father in law (Dr John Spence) was Keith’s squadron leader in the RAF in the 1950s.
    Only by chance did I find your post as John and I were recalling his early days.
    John is 92 and still going strong in Yorkshire and was interested to learn of Keith last years which sound to have been very happy.

    • Ed Rybicki Says:

      Apologies, didn’t see this till now! Keith was a happy man: regretted totally turning his back on virology in his 80s, and came back – and I have videos of some VERY entertaining chats that he made me promise I couldn’t do anything with until he was gone. And now he is. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: