Anton Buter

Born: December 3, 1965;

Died: November 8, 2023

Originally from South Africa, Anton Buter was raised in Welkom and attended the University of the Free State qualifying in general surgery cum laude. He was an incredibly modest, humble, and private man.

He arrived in Glasgow in 1998 where his training continued as the Lister Fellow in upper gastrointestinal surgery at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He was subsequently appointed to a consultant position at the Vale of Leven Hospital. In 2003, he helped re-organise services with the Royal Alexandra Hospital which later became the Clyde sector within Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS. He worked tirelessly to improve how the NHS operated and significantly contributed to services at the Golden Jubilee National, Ross Hall and Nuffield Hospitals.

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With a quiet, thoughtful and measured approach, Anton had a practice that was exemplary. Despite being referred the most difficult cases, his outcomes were consistently excellent. A skilled endoscopist, he helped many by clearing biliary tree stones or overcoming obstructions with a well-placed stent, saving patients from invasive surgery.

In theatre he excelled with a calm, considered demeanour either at open surgery re-constructing an abdominal wall or using minimally invasive surgery for a variety of conditions. He had a masterful command of the keyhole approach for gallbladders, para-oesophageal or groin hernias. Anton was also incredibly generous of spirit and amassed a huge experience educating trainees and fellow consultants with a logical approach that espoused quality.

He was revered as a surgeon who was always available for advice, willing to help when needed, and who was empathetic at all times. His tenacity regularly shone through, identifying solutions to whatever problem that particular patient was experiencing. He never complained and was always focussed totally upon his vocation.

In spite of his own health issues, he always insisted to colleagues that he be treated with the same “indifference”. But most of all he exuded compassion throughout his practice which he believed to be absolutely core to his work as an equal compliment to excellence in science and technique.

Aside from his life purpose of medicine, Anton was a family man to his core. The love of his life partner of 32 years and wife, Karien, knew no bounds. He was kind to a fault, considerate, courageous and with the highest levels of integrity. He had an astounding aptitude for endurance, all qualities which live on through his beloved twins Carmen and Rubens. He was an extraordinary father with a real gift for emotional intelligence and wisdom. Many sought his counsel and guidance and he was much admired.

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Anton was a highly sophisticated man with many talents. He was a double dan black belt in karate, and an accomplished pianist. A dedicated cyclist and committed athlete, he was a loyal member of the Jordanhill Wheelers and he completed numerous arduous cycle races several times such as the Cape Epic in South Africa, the JoBerg2C and the Etape Caledonia in Scotland with friends.

Everything about Anton exemplified quality. He was an accomplished self-taught photographer, an avid gardener where he nurtured everything from roses and wisteria to his fastidiously pruned bonsai.

He relished his travel adventures with his family particularly back to his homeland. As an ardent supporter of the South African Bokke, it was so very fitting that he lived to see them seize the Rugby World Cup title for the fourth time.

One of his greatest joys was creating culinary masterpieces around a braai with the attention to detail that only a surgeon could master. In more recent years his paella and pizza making were perfected to share with the collection of friends who arrived in their family home, Ekhaya, where there was always an open door. He relished sitting round a dinner table, never wishing to be the centre of attention but could always be counted on for his rigorous evidence-based debating skills and, invariably, perfect timing. His discourse was laced with a razor-sharp wit.

There are those rare occasions in life when we have the great privilege to know someone like Anton Buter. Ever wise and a benchmark of decency and respect, his life touched very many people, young and old. He leaves a profound sense of loss for his family, colleagues and friends. Son to Piet, brother to Debbie, Sonja and Fred, husband to Karien and father to Carmen and Rubens. A memorial service will be held at Mackintosh Queen’s Cross, Garscube Road, Glasgow, on November 22 at 4pm. Anton Buter - a gentle man and a gentleman.

Andrew Renwick and Alison McRae