Fond farewell to Foschini’s Clive

Prominent businessman Clive Hirschsohn recently passed away peacefully at his home in Bantry Bay.

Clive was born in Cape Town in 1932 to Phillip and Nita into a family that traced its roots in the Cape back to the 1850s.

His exceptional intelligence was demonstrated throughout his studies and working career. He was taught to read at a very early age by his sister Bunty, and as a result he skipped the first three years of school. He was formally educated at Sea Point Primary School, Rondebosch Boys’ High School and then Wits University where he graduated with a BCom at a youthful 19 years old.

Although he never practised law he completed an LLB part-time through Unisa while working behind the counter in the family business, American Swiss.

His legal training left him with a profound sense of right and wrong. He was also very proud of his international qualification in Gemology.

Clive’s working career led him to the highest level as one of the country’s top retail executives. His family sold a few American Swiss stores to Foschini in the 1960s.

He then led the growth of American Swiss and Sterns into
the two largest jewellery chains in the country over the following decade.

Despite being admittedly the most unfashionable dresser, he later managed the Foschini women’s division, and his business career peaked as the managing director of the Foschini Group.

Clive retired from Foschini in 1994 after 43 years of service.

Clive was widely respected in the business community in South Africa and the jewellery trade abroad as a man of principle and integrity.

Although he always played down his role, in the late 1980s he was also prominent in the Consultative Business Movement and contributed to building trust with community and political organisations during the transition to democracy.

He continued this public service role as the Western Cape chair of the National Business Initiative.

After his retirement, he served various senior positions, sat on boards and chaired numerous prestigious companies including, amongst many others – Protea Assurance, Western Cape First National Bank, Mutual and Federal, The Abe Bailey Trust and Foord Asset Management.

Clive was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Western Cape where he served as Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees and lectured part-time graduate courses in the business school pro bono for 15 years.

He was particularly admired and respected by his students for generously sharing his invaluable wisdom and business experience.

Clive had an absolute passion and love for sport, in particular rugby, golf and cricket. As a student at Wits he had earned his colours in baseball.

He not only played golf weekly for decades at Milnerton Golf Club but was the Club Captain and President for many years. His rare achievement included two holes-in-one (at the same hole on the same course but many years apart).

Until a few years ago he was a religious spectator at Newlands rugby and cricket matches. He was particularly passionate about rugby and cherished his role as chairman of Western Province Rugby for many years.

One of his favourite memories was a road trip around Argentina in a bus with a Western Province rugby team. Whether glued to the TV or relaxing at the pool, he always wore his trademark yellow tshirt and a yellow floppy hat.

He was highly generous and charitable man, loved a good discussion and debate.

He will be remembered as the most humble and modest man. He wasn’t a flashy person, nor did he look for praise, he just got on with any task that had to be done. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

A more ethical and loyal man you could not find. He was also a very popular and very loyal friend. He loved reading, travelling and fine dining, crossword puzzles and playing scrabble.

But the most important part of his life was his family. He was originally married to Pam, an accomplished artist and celebrated cook, for 32 years until she passed away and then Tammy for the past 26 years.

He is survived by his wife Tammy, his children, Philip, Lindy and Martine and their spouses Lemay, Chris and Pete, his step son Ronen Jackson and his family Gaby, Matt and Demi, sister Brenda Silberman and her children Paul, Diane and Philip and their families and grandchildren Nicholas, Gaby, Matt, Shaun and Ricky.