A tribute to Keith Mattison

A tribute to Keith Mattison (a Past President of the Institute)
By Humphrey Worthington-Smith

Very regrettably Keith succumbed at the age of 73 in the early hours of 17 July 2014 to a pulmonary disease, which interfered with his breathing. His passing was comfortable. Indomitable to the end, he went out sailing on the previous Sunday and then watched the World Cup Soccer final.

Keith hailed from Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan Canada, the son of a staunch Salvation Army family. This was his first introduction to music, which was to become one of his abiding passions.

On leaving school he was faced with a decision to become a professional musician or to do something a bit less chancy. He chose to become a Chartered Accountant and this was followed by employment with an Insurance Company. His specialist knowledge of the insurance business was to help shape his career later on.

In 1964 he met Ruth who would become his wife and mother of a son and two daughters. They found that they shared the same love of adventure and this is without doubt what drew them together. They embarked on an overland trip to South Africa by plane, train, bicycle, boat and donkey and even resorted to walking. They ultimately arrived virtually penniless in Johannesburg where Keith found employment with IBM as a specialist in Insurance systems. He was transferred to Cape Town and was assigned to supporting Sanlam.

Keith enjoyed a brilliant career in IT. It included a stint at Southern Life as their IT Manager; he joined UCT in their newly formed department of Data Processing; he did a good deal of independent consulting and also taught not only at UCT but the University of Western Cape as well as various independent training establishments.

While Keith was exceptionally skilled technically, his major strength was his ability to teach in an endearing manner. All who were lucky enough to be taught by him adored him. Keith gave freely of his time to what was then known as the Computer Society of South Africa, the forerunner of the present IITPSA (Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa). He served as the Western Cape Chapter Chairman and as the President of the Society.

During all this time, Keith did not allow his musical talents to stagnate. He was deeply involved in choral music and was frequently seen assisting in the accompaniment of musical shows.

His other passion was yachting which he did whenever the conditions allowed. He had wanted to race in this year’s Cape to Rio, but a really bad storm forced him and his crew to turn back which was a good decision.

It is quite difficult to define why it was that everybody who knew Keith just loved him. Perhaps his generosity is near the top of the list of his wonderful attributes. It was not just generosity, but a willingness to help anybody who needed it. He never was heard to say a derogatory thing about anybody.


Keith is fondly remembered and will be sadly missed by all who knew him.