A powerful impact lingers after the departure of incredible people.
By Rubin Van Niekerk
As a gay man who a had passion for motorcycles, cars, and racetracks I was finally welcomed by the
South African Guild of Mobility Journalists 20 years ago. The man who accepted me into this
organisation that took its membership extremely seriously, was named Wynter Murdoch, the
Chairman of the Guild.
Little did I know at the time that we would share so much, even though Wynter was an exceptionally
private man. Our conversations focussed on the South African Car of the Year competition and
statistical processes bounced with a later chairman Bernie Hellberg who was an openly gay man like
I am. Eventually I became chairman and then president of the SAGMJ. We worked together as a
team complemented by Dirk Gallowitz, Jason Woosey, Vivien Natasen and Carl Wepener. Our
common passion for achieving statistical excellence fuelled us.
Wynter passed away a few days ago which left a sad emptiness, but it simultaneously brought a
great sense of gratitude for sharing such special memories.
I was fortunate to have known one of the most rational members of the Guild since I became a
member twenty years ago.
As one of the first Guild’s lifestyle journalists, Wynter made it clear in his usual mental shorthand
that the very highest standards were expected of all Guild members. Performance pressure as a
journalist was a given and the best thing would be to just accept that as a reality of life. Perfectly
said in a few seconds, yet little did I know that for two decades our paths would remain intersected,
and we never required an abundance of words.
Like all introverts blessed with common sense, logic and wisdom, insightful words require deep
thought. Subtle sharing becomes an art form barely grasped by most extroverts. It’s minimalism in
expression is probably best understood by the Japanese and their highly evolved sense of the blend
of engineering and art.
Many Guild members are likeminded souls connecting on racetracks where the joy of motoring
helped us share our passionate Eureka moments.
My closer interaction with Wynter became more prevalent from about 2010 when I became an SA
COTY juror. I learned much more about the perennial question about the debate around objectivity
and statistical and statistical accuracy. Mike Marsh was a mathematical whizz who created a
complex scoring system for SA COTY which was used for decades. Robin Emslie asked Wynter and I
to revisit this system in 2015 with Mike Marsh when our new system that evolved in 2010 raised
question marks from 2013.
Wynter was deeply passionate and embarked on this quest with us and we were gratified by having
such on objective mentor. We explored conundrums deeply as a team and found solutions that
always took us to a higher level of discovery.
Wynter was an amazing man, and his true skill was his ability to persistently question all the facts
without fail. His remarkably superb diplomatic skills never sparked conflict, yet always inspired
debate. Rarely are we blessed to experience such humility by such a fine example of leadership
without any semblance of arrogance.
He was a doting husband, father and grandfather and leaves his wife, Gillian Murdoch, his daughters
Nicole and Kathryn and his granddaughters, Angelina, Isabella, Mila and Gia.
I salute you, Wynter, until we meet again.