In Memory of Rene Borisewitz

Rene was born as the first son into a Jewish family in Antwerp Belgium on 20th January 1937. His paternal grandparents were immigrants to Belgium from Poland/Russia and his maternal family were from Berlin, Prussia. Sadly, this was a very turbulent time and by 1939, War had broken out, by May 1940 Belgium was occupied by soldiers of the German Nazi regime. In 1942 anti-Jewish laws were imposed and it became necessary for the family to go into hiding. On 23rd March 1944, the Gestapo broke down the doors and arrested the remaining family members and condemned them to deportation from Mechelen to Auschwitz. Luckily for Rene and his brother Armand and cousin Sylvain, resistance members kidnapped the children and hid them until the War was finally over. By 1946, none of Rene and Armand's family members had returned, and they were adopted by their father's cousin Olga and her husband Felix Jaul in London where Rene grew up from the age of 9. By that time, he spoke German, Jiddish, Flemish and French - but not yet English. And yet, most people later in life  believed him to be a true Cockney - a Paddington Londoner! He studied electronic engineering at Birmingham university and in 1959 he joined Pamphonics, the Royal supplier of amplified sound for the 1953 coronation at Westminster Abbey - developing loudspeakers and amplifiers.
Rene was now sharing a flat in North West London with his life-long friend, Stan Philips who worked as a sound recordist in the film industry, and Rene was tempted to join the wild and exciting but stressful London film industry working first as sound maintenance man, then sound recordist and later as sound mixer on many interesting projects. He founded a sound equipment hire company called Siren Sound together with Stan's cousin Simon Kaye (winner of 2 Oscars for Film Sound) which they ran until retirement. In 1974 Rene met Ulla Thiessen, a German art school graduate 15 years his junior, and they remained together for 45 years until his death. Ulla worked as a designer and they both got involved in refurbishing properties in London and lived for the last 35 years in a wonderful house not far from where Rene had spent most of his earlier years. In the 1990, Rene preferred not to travel as much and be away for months on locations, but instead continued a great career in sound mixing for London's thriving commercials industry until the age of 65. After Stan's premature death before his 70th birthday, Rene & Ulla decided it was time to get married! Rene had been considered a member of the Thiessen family from the start, and they remained close throughout several European countries. Rene's brother Armand got married and lived in Scotland for many years where he and his wife Elaine raised their 2 sons, Simon and Daniel. They moved to the English South coast a few years ago since when they became very close again.

Rene suffered a stroke in 2012 which he survived unscathed but at which time it was discovered that he needed a heart valve replacement due to a bout of rheumatic fever as a child. This was successful, and the heart valve was guaranteed for 10 years - so when Rene became unwell in May this year, he wasn't prepared to die just yet! In February, he had a Cataract operation on his left eye. His follow-up visit was in May, shortly after which he complained of constipation. The British National Health Service offered him a Colonography within 2 weeks, gave results of no illness after 2 weeks, then offered him an endoscopy within 2 weeks, gave results of erosion of the stomach lining after 2 weeks. By mid July, Rene had lost 20 kg and much of his strength. His family doctor noticed that his liver was enlarged and urged a CT scan which showed masses which the doctors could not quite determine. An MRI scan showed melanoma which they knew could only be secondary - and finally a brain scan confirmed their suspicions - but by then it was too late to treat the primary melanoma in the left eye. The diagnosis that his was a treatable ocular melanoma came on the day he died!

Rene Borisewitz
Jan 20, 1937 - Sep 18, 2019

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that a donation be made to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation.