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Horst Windisch

Horst Windisch was born April 24, 1932, in the small village of Gibeon, Namibia. His father, although born in Germany, grew up in South West Africa (now Namibia), and lived mainly at Kolmannskuppe, a diamond digging belonging to the Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM), situated just north of Lüderitzbucht. Horst's grandfather was a local building contractor who had been involved in the building of the houses at Kolmannskuppe for the CDM which today, after all these years, and because of the extremely arid climate, are still perfectly preserved; most of them are partially covered with sand, and are known as the "Ghost Town" of the Namib. Eventually Horst's father got a job in Omaruru, hundreds of kilometers to the north, where his brother Wolf was born in 1935. Then, through a friend, his father got a job at ISCOR (South African Iron and Steel Works) in Pretoria, South Africa. His sister Ursula was born in Pretoria in 1937, by which time the family was firmly entrenched in South Africa. The mineral exhibits in the Transvaal Museum made a deep impression on the young Horst, and he began his own mineral collection.

After completing his Primary school education, Horst enrolled at the Pretoria Technical College, as an engineering student. After matriculating, he was appointed as an apprentice millwright at ISCOR. After two years he had completed his Advanced Technical Certificate, as well as his National Diploma (Engineering). As there were still two years of his apprenticeship left, he was allowed to tackle the first two years of his BSc (Engineering) degree part-time. During the following two years, his apprenticeship having been completed, he studied full-time at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, graduating in 1956. In 1957 he married Erika Rösemann and together they had two children, Gerhard and Margot.

After obtaining his degree, he got permission from ISCOR (he was still in their employ) to go and work in Germany for two years for DEMAG (Duisburg, Germany), in order to gain experience. Shortly after his return to South Africa he started taking an active interest once again in minerals. Horst worked his entire professional career at ISCOR in various maintenance departments, culminating as Project Leader for the first commercial COREX plant in the world, before he retired on pension in May 1991.

He joined the Pretoria Gem and Mineral Club (PGMC) in 1964, became a committee member in 1966 and then was Chairman for 33 years(!) from 1967 to 2001, with only one brief respite in 1976. One of his many achievements in the PGMC during this period was starting a building fund which culminated in the opening of the Horst Windisch Clubhouse in 1992.

Horst was involved with the Federation of Southern African Federation of Mineralogical Societies (FOSAGAMS) since its inception in 1966, first as President (1967/68, 1972/73, 1986/90, 1998/2006) then as Vice-President (1979/85), and finally Treasurer (1976/77). Horst was the ultimate organizer and committee man; anything that he was involved with or tasked to do, was done with enthusiasm, gusto and always to perfection. He also held the following portfolios for a long time – FOSAGAMS Liaison Officer, National Show Rules Chairman, History of Clubs archivist, Exhibitor's Manual Editor, and Audio-Visual Programmes co-ordinator; he was the Circulation and Advertising Manager for the South African Lapidary Magazine for many years as well as involved with the National Gem and Mineral Shows held in Pretoria five times and was Club Show Chairman on numerous occasions. He personally organized and led (from the front!) nine "Extended Rockhunt Tours" (each lasting from two to five weeks) through Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. Horst was instrumental in planning mineral tours for overseas collector-tour groups to South Africa from the US, New Zealand, Holland and Australia. He took over a South African exhibit to the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies Show in Tampa, Florida in 1979. His brother Wolf is of the opinion that if Horst had trained and worked as a tour operator rather than an engineer, he would have made a fortune!

Horst founded the South African Micromount Society (SAMS) in 1975 and Sand Collectors International (SCI) in 1985. He was, up until 2001, the driving force behind SAMS and editor of Micro News and Views, the quarterly Newsletter of SAMS, until health problems forced him to scale down his activities. However, in 2005, he again assumed the duties of Editor. As a micromounter, Horst was elected into the Micromounters Hall of Fame in September 1991, on which occasion he was also instrumental in the founding of the International Federation of Micromount Societies (IFMS). Here he was elected as President of the IFMS, a position which he held until his passing. Horst had more than 7,000 mounted micromounts in his collection, which is strong on African minerals, especially those from South Africa and Namibia, and also from various localities in Europe and the US.

Horst also had a strong interest in sand collecting. He was editor of the quarterly Newsletter The Sands of Time, and had close on 6,000 sand samples from all over the world in his collection. He was a member of two Gem and Mineral Clubs in South Africa, one in France and three in the US. Until ill health prohibited it, he worked as a volunteer at the Council of Geoscience (previously Geological Survey) Museum for a couple of hours per week ever since he went on pension in 1991. In 1991 he took over as President of the International Association of the Collectors of Slag Minerals, and published a small bulletin containing interesting articles until the association ended in 2002. In 1971 he became a charter member of the Fluorescent Mineral Society (FMS), and was for many years the South African Regional Vice President' he contributed several articles on fluorescent minerals to the society's bulletin, UV-Waves. He passed away on August 23, 2011.

Most of the above was taken from:
WINDISCH, W., STEYN, E., and CAIRNCROSS, B. (2012) Notes from the Editors: Died, Horst Windisch. Mineralogical Record, 43 (1), 6-7.
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