August 23, 1974 – March 10, 2023

Jonathan Smidt

A few weeks ago Martine and I went to visit Nitty when she was in Denver Hospice. She was still fully compos mentis at that time. Martine took her photo albums from our childhood to look through together. Looking through those Nitty said that I was not a very smiley kid. When I looked through those pictures, I saw Nitty as this beautiful child with this beaming smile, affectionately interacting with everyone in the extended family. Warmly embracing her siblings, my parents, her grandparents, and cousins. Nitty was right, I was not a smiley as she was because I was shy and always in my head and weighed down by thoughts. When we were young, I always envied Nitty for being so easy going and fun loving and lighthearted. At that time, I didn’t know that Nitty had so many of her own struggles and that she was dealing with them differently and displaying it differently on the outside.

I forget exactly the words Nitty used, but a few years ago she asked me how I always managed to overcome things and deal with the challenges of life and never seemed to let them get to me. Nitty was communicating to me just how tough it was for her to manage the challenges that life was giving her, and they were immense. She ultimately was not able to overcome them. Not just the cancer, but OCD as well.

I left home at 18 years old to go to Cape Town and from there to New York, so I wasn’t close enough to Nitty to be aware of and truly understand her struggles. She hid them so well from me and from my parents when she was still living in Johannesburg.

Nitty had the hardest time of anyone in our family hands down immigrating to America. She was isolated in the middle of Connecticut. I could not even imagine how lonely and tough it was for her. Thank goodness for the Wolman family’s generous hospitality and Martine, who would go out and visit her almost every weekend.

I look back at that beautiful kid with that big smile and think about what an amazing potential life she had ahead of her and then I compare that to the reality of what Nitty experienced and it is truly heart wrenching. She landed up living a life that was extremely lonely and really tough with extreme challenges. Not the life any of us would wish on anyone and or that anyone deserves.

In one of our conversations at Denver Hospice she broke into tears expressing the deep concern for the pain our parents suffered with her illness. My parents never stopped being there for Nitty and supporting her. It has consumed so many years of their life at a time they should have been able to relax and enjoy their children and grandchildren. Once you have children you know how true the saying is that “you are only as happy as your unhappiest child”. While I hope I never have to experience out-living one of my children, I hope that Nitty’s passing frees up my parents from the pain and suffering they experienced alongside Nitty.

If you got to know Nitty and were able to remove the cloud of OCD that hung over her, you got to realize how warm and caring and generous she was. She was incredible with children and children loved her. That’s because she was able to be present and engaging with them. A Nitty without OCD would have been the most incredible mother. I look back and try to focus on the Nitty before she faced all her challenges. A beautiful, warm, fun-loving girl, with a great group of friends who were all very close. That’s the Nitty I want to remember. If I had one wish it would be for Nitty to be able to live her life, but this time without all the challenges she faced.

Martine Smidt

A number of times over the past few years, Nitty was confronted with the fact that her death was near.  A common theme of the conversations that we had during those moments was her fear that the primary way people would define and remember her was by her mental and physical illnesses.  I’d like to share the way that I would like to remember her.

It’s hard for me to conjure up a memory from my early childhood, teenage years or early twenties that doesn’t involve Nitty.  She was my fun loving, mischievous, deeply caring and dependable big sister.

She was my protector: My family is well aware that some of my hardest moments as a child involved school.  I had a combination of separation, social and change anxiety.  Through each transition Nitty was there by my side.  In Kindergarten I spent many hours sleeping under Nitty’s chair holding her ankles, and the only time I ever joined my own class was when Nitty was allowed to join too; patiently taking part in activities that she had grown out of two years earlier.  In primary, and even high school, Nitty would make sure that I got to my class and was going to be ok before heading off to find her friends and to start her day.  When I moved to New York, Nitty stayed with me for the first few weeks making sure that I was settling in and that I was comfortable making my way around the city.

Nitty was my confidant: we would lie in bed together talking about our biggest fears, hopes and dreams. Whether it was our first boy crushes, the ways in which our parents were being unreasonable, places we wanted to travel to, and where we wanted to live together with two imaginary cats, Madam and Master. We also compared our favorite chocolate bars.  Nitty loved chocolate.

And finally, Nitty was my best friend: Growing up Nitty was always way more social and fun loving than I was.  I was both shy and awkward.  Nitty would go out of her way to include me in her social plans with her friends.  I never felt like the annoying little sister who was tagging along, but rather, that I belonged and that I was right where I was meant to be.

When Nitty found out in January that they would be stopping treatment, she didn’t call to talk about her fears, her disappointment, or her anger.  She called to tell me that she loved me.  I think that single act sums up Nitty.  And that’s how I would like to remember her.  As my protector, my confidant and my best friend.

Danni Hosiassohn


You were seven when I was born. And if I had a dollar for every time Mommy told me how excited you were to be my big sister…the way you would be the first to get me out of my crib in the mornings and the way you would lovingly, eagerly cuddle and feed me my first bottle of the day. Mommy has always reminded me that you are the only one I would ever let give me hugs and snuggles. “You only had eyes for Nitty,” Mommy would say.

I don’t remember those days. But somehow, I don’t need to remember them to remember how I only had eyes for you.

Your room was my safe haven. Whether I was happy or sad, indescribably annoying or momentarily tolerable, I was your constant shadow. And you always let me invade your space. I followed you EVERYWHERE. And I looked on, as if at a real life princess.

I could always count on your hand-me-downs to smell the sweetest and feel the softest.

You laughed off my neuroses, and talked me off the steepest of ledges…even if they offered comic relief in the years to come. You were my late-night dining-room study-buddy…the best company for last-minute all-nighters.

You were never afraid of fun or adventure. Forbidden night time runs to the quick shop. Or other escapades we will keep between us.

You were fun, and energetic and exciting. Naughty and silly and willing to answer any question I ever asked.

But just as I looked up to you, you looked up to me. You thought there was nothing I couldn’t do. In your eyes, I was the smartest…the savviest…the most caring and the most capable. You believed in me FAR more than I believed in myself. You held yourself to impossible standards, but granted me the grace to make mistakes…and still seem perfect in your eyes.

You have loved my children as your own. Whole heartedly, and intensely. You are fiercely protective of them, like only a mother could be. And you have an intuition with them that I have admired and envied.

As a child, seeing you off at the train station as you made your way to camp, I howled at having to spend the summer without you. As a teenager, bidding you farewell as you journeyed to Connecticut, I sobbed my heart out at having to be in South Africa without you. And today, as an adult, I am somehow facing the unthinkable…of being in this world. Without you.

But you’ve left me with many gifts. I look at Dini and I see your giant, dark eyes…the ones that despite my many flaws, only see the good in me… and I see your spark …your incredible gift and intuition with young children. I look at Raphi, and I see your insatiable thirst for history, literature, music and film…your courage to delve into the creativity of others and explore and understand their inner workings and torment. When I look at Tali, I see the purest love you had for me…as an infant…and the incredible mother you would have been, if you were given the chance.

This time, as you leave me, I don’t have the consolation that you will return. But I do have these gifts you’ve left behind to carry a piece of you with me, in this world.

Nicholas Matthews


I wanted to be able to write this, to let you know that I am okay, because that is the type of friend you always have been to me. You would worry about me before I even knew that there was something to worry about!

You are one of the few people that I know capable of considering and putting other people first. 

But I am not okay Nitty, I feel as though part of me has died today. A part of me that has held onto you ever since you left for America has died a little today and it has left a gap as great as the Grand Canyon. And it has to be that big because that is how big your heart is. 

We came together during those tumultuous early teenage years at Greenside High School and became the best of friends in a way that best friends dream of. With no effort, able to be ourselves around each other without fear of judgement or rejection. To have fun together, to push boundaries and always have each other’s backs. 


I remember so many wonderful and unique moments, thoughts and dreams that we shared. So many pivotal moments in each other’s lives. And always in the safest of places in each other’s hearts. 

Your house in Greenside, Martine on the drums, Jonathan at gym and Danni singing lyrics to a Police song. Basil and Philippa ever present but in the background, making sure that everything in the house was as good as it could be. 

Our weekly movies with Martine in the back of the car. So many good movies and endless animated conversations about the merits of the script or the cinematography. 

Alfred Hitchcock ALL night! 

The fantastic and wonderful people that I met through you, drawn as I was to your humility, humour and humongous heart. 

Our trip to the coast for a holiday before you left South Africa when I teased you that we would be staying in a tent in Ballito. 

I recall your start to life in America where you had the grit to get through whatever came your way and how even from a distance I could tell that you were touching people’s hearts. 

Because that is what you have always done, allowed people to wear their hearts on their sleeves and love them until they could learn to love themselves. 

Inviting me to join you and your family at special times in each other’s lives, to celebrate with you. So many memories. So much unbridled joy. 

We have always been a team together and not being able to contact is going to be harder than I realized. 

I weep and mourn that you have moved on and I cannot describe the sorrow that I feel for your family and friends. 

Thank you for being you, for touching my heart and soul and for believing in me long before I had any belief in myself. You were, are and always will be alive in my thoughts Nitty. 

Nikki Tempkin

Three musketeers. Mischievous, marvellous, adventurous.
We met at varsity 1993 in Eng Lit & Drama & Film. The times we had together were filled with magic. My ride or die friends. By 2004, Nikki you were gone. Taken by the wave. Too soon, a loss that still burns. Today, Nitty, you left this realm after many years of struggling with cancer. Your suffering is finally over. I believe that your spirit is elsewhere. But you’ve left us grieving & bereft.

We shared a dry sense of humour, intellectual curiosity, a love of music and dancing in clubs and a wry grasp of the absurdity of existence. Those afternoons in Melville just hanging out, wondering around Wits and chatting, exploring NYC and Connecticut. We laughed a lot and cried too. You had many struggles and bore them so bravely. And how absurd is it that you’re just not here anymore…

How can I be the only one of the three of us left? This is simply inconceivable. My brain can’t accept this, but my heart knows it’s true. Please take your rest now and be at peace…..