Izak de Villiers was born in Paarl on 30 July 1936. He attended Paarl Gymnasium, a school for which he maintained a lifelong passion. He was also a dominee, a published poet - considered by some to be the best mystical poet in Afrikaans - and a prolific author. He wrote 54 books, including five of poetry and one on depression. De Villiers also composed a number of hymns that were included in the hymnbook of the Dutch Reformed Church in the 1970s.
He went to Stellenbosch University, where he considered studying business and then journalism before settling on Afrikaans literature, in which he completed his BA, BA honours and master's degrees, all cum laude. He then decided to study Theology, and graduated as a dominee cum laude, in 1961. He was awarded the medal for being the top student at the university.
He practiced as a dominee in the Dutch Reformed Church for 20 years. In 1983, he left the pulpit to take a job as the editor of the Afrikaans women's magazine Sarie, and in 1991, he was appointed editor of the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport. He resigned in 1997.
A wonderful raconteur, it was said of De Villiers that "he could be insightful of President Jimmy Carter's defects and just as easily discuss Calvin's virtues, talk about Mother Teresa of Avila or his beloved Paarl" (from Barron, C. 2009).
He died ten days after being diagnosed with motor neuron disease from which, it turned out, he had been suffering for two years.
Izak de Villiers died in Johannesburg at the age of 73. His wife Rina, two sons and a daughter survive him.
Barron, C. (2009) ‘Izak de Villiers’, Sunday Times, 11 October, p7.