Victor Anton Raynal CEng FIET, February 1925 - March 2017

17 May 2017
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Victor Anton Raynal, February 1925 - March 2017

Obituary provided by Anne Raynal

Victor was born in Mozambique. His grandfather and father worked for the Électricité de France Company. After his father died of malaria when he was eight, he was sent to a Marists Brothers boarding school in Johannesburg. He matriculated at the age of 16 and started an apprenticeship with the Johannesburg City Council (JCC).


The JCC awarded Victor a scholarship to do a degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. He then had a professional attachment with Ferranti in Oldham, which was developing the world’s first commercially available computer. Victor considered developing his career along that path; however, he was very committed to using his engineering skills to better the lives of people in Africa, despite lucrative job offers from elsewhere.


While he was with Ferranti he married Jean Stuttard, a paymistress; she died in a car accident in 1955. He then married Margaret Bailey, also from Oldham; Basil de Ferranti attended this wedding.Returning to continue his career in the JCC in 1955, Victor progressed to Assistant City Electrical Engineer (Distribution) in 1970. This involved reticulation for a high population density area of 500 square kilometres, including Soweto, which at that time was the largest conurbation in Africa. Their source of energy came from burning fossil fuels, causing enormous effluent.  However, Victor saw the electrification of Soweto not only as a solution to air pollution, but also to provide improved access to development opportunities.  Victor recalled the delight of residents who were not only able to get home more safely due to the high mast street lighting he developed, but that children were able to do their home-work outside at no cost.


Victor was appointed to the National Coordinating Commission setting standards for new residential townships. He authored three major papers for which he received awards entitled: “Cable Fault Location”, “Insulating Oil in Relation to the Maintenance of Power Transformers” and “A Modern Approach to Reticulation of Residential Townships”.  He achieved membership of the IEE (the predecessor organisation of the IET) in 1970 and Fellowship in 1979.


He leaves his widow and also a daughter - a Doctor, and a son - a Chartered Mechanical Engineer. Two sons, a Civil Engineer and Lawyer, predeceased him. Victor was an enthusiastic sports and chess coach, which was appreciated by his eight grandchildren. Although his life held personal tragedies, Victor retained a belief in the goodness of God through his Catholic faith.