Isaac Moses Pfaff didn't wave placards to further the causes he was passionate about -- he used his pen. "He was a humanitarian," says his daughter, Desiree Reinsalu. "But he did it in a really non-militant manner."
Born June 13, 1920, in Ladysmith, South Africa, Mr. Pfaff began writing anti-apartheid-themed plays at the age of 18 in English, Dutch and German, often using the pen name Paul Roubaix.
"There was not the freedom of speech there is now" in South Africa, Mrs. Reinsalu says. "Most writers who had a political conscience wrote under a pseudonym."
When Mr. Pfaff toured South Africa with his theatre company, he refused to perform in front of segregated crowds. As president of the South African arts union, he worked to end apartheid with a group that included Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
He has written more than a dozen plays for the theatre, three novels and several short stories and radio plays, most of them about human rights and compassion.
In May of 1964, Mr. Pfaff's politically charged writing forced him to flee South Africa with his wife Juanita and their children Desiree and Howard. They left their home with all their furniture inside.
In Canada, he produced many plays as a high-school teacher at Oakwood Collegiate Institute and Thornhill Secondary School. One student sent flowers and a letter to the funeral, saying Mr. Pfaff helped her to her current career as a lawyer for the underprivileged, Mrs. Reinsalu says.
Mr. Pfaff died Feb. 4 due to complications from severe asthma.