Elias Albertus Deetlefs

January 16, 1958April 22, 2021

Elias Deetlefs

January 16, 1958 – April 22, 2021

Dr. Elias Albertus Deetlefs, 63, died at his home in Houston, TX on April 22, 2012 from glioblastoma.

Elias was born in Stellenbosch, South Africa on January 16, 1958 to Philippus and Irene (Visser) Deetlefs, both of whom preceded him in death. He graduated from the University of Stellenbosh as a Doctor of Medicine and, after completing his mandatory South African military service, relocated to the USA, working for a period in New York, NY and Cumberland Gap, TN before finally as an emergency room physician in Houston TX for the majority of his career.

He was a kind and generous man with an insatiable quest for knowledge and a natural affinity for people, leading him to excel in his chosen field as a doctor. He was extremely well read and loved to travel, both domestically and internationally. His friends and family often reminisce about trips on which they accompanied him and his enthusiasm to explore off the beaten track and try novel foods. Elias was adventurous, climbing Kilamanjaro, fishing in the Amazon and traveling alone through several countries in South America (for which he had a special affinity). Although he never married, he enjoyed children, spending hours in the company of his nieces and nephews, as well as children of friends. He was an accomplished marathon runner, notably winning the 50-54 age group of the Houston Marathon in 2009. He also welcomed the opportunity to play golf and to fish with his friends – usually with self-deprecating humor as to his competency at these endeavors.

“Elias gave of himself in a ‘more than human’ way

The loss is immeasurable but so is the love left behind

He will always be as far as a heartbeat away from me”

Elias is survived by his siblings Philip Deetlefs, Ingrid Mennen and Lorraine Smith as well as nephews and nieces.

Details for a Zoom memorial service are being planned. Please contact for details.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Elias Albertus Deetlefs

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May 11, 2021

Dr Deetlefs was an amazing mentor for a baby nurse in the emergency room. He always took time to teach me new and amazing things and was always so soft spoken and gentle. I will never forget him naming our bedside ultrasound Johnny 5 and his sense of humor. He will be sorely missed ❤. Thank you Doc for teaching me all that you could, every single shift

Michael Gardner

May 9, 2021

I only met Elias one time in person but we spoke on the phone a few times and exchanged e-mails. My daughter Catherine Gardner worked with him in the emergency room in Houston.

Even though I only knew him for a brief period he lifted my spirits. I can’t tell you how sad I am at his passing. I will remember him always and keep him in my prayers.

Steve Shepard

May 8, 2021

Elias Deetlefs was perhaps Houston's strongest 50+ distance runner in his time, repeatedly winning Houston Marathon invited runner status as the fastest local runner in the event years in a row. After hip issues ended his running career he did not give up on fitness. Just think kettle ball, apartment stairs and do not try this at home. And pool swims that would last for hours.
He did not give up running entirely. Every year on Marathon Day he'd meet me at the marathon/half split and run with me for a mile.
He joined us for several mountaineering adventures. No summit at Mt. Hood (unsafe weather) but success on Humphries, Wheeler, Borah and Katahdin. We all turned around on Granite except for Elias who summited. This was after a summer at the climbing gym - the climbing pros, the amazing little kids, and 2 60 somethings who didn't know any better - that would be Elias and me.
A few years ago our entourage was at the summit of Katahdin, the highest point in Maine and end point of the Appalachian Trail. My wife was spent and had no idea how she could manage to get down. Elias, the consumate gentleman, crack emergency doctor and our strongest climber, immediately volunteered for escort duty. Tough sledding, but success! Thank you Elias, forever indebted.

Cynthia Lonidier

May 8, 2021

Dr. Deetlefs was a great boss, mentor and friend. He was always very concerned regarding my well-being and my children. We have all gone through some tough times with him and he was always very supportive, compassionate and empathetic. Dr. Deetlefs you have left a mark on my heart forever. The great compassion and love for people that you have was extraordinary. When the morale was low at work he would always lift us up. We will remember and miss you always!!

Keegan Dent

May 8, 2021

Elias lived as the truest example of a gentleman as I have ever known. His generosity and sincerity were always genuine, and he had an unbelievable capacity for compassion towards others. He means a great deal to me and my family, and I will cherish the memories of the time we all had together. To his family, my most heartfelt condolences. While we will sorely miss his presence, he is surely making Heaven a greater place as he did here.

Ranjit Kaur

May 6, 2021

I began working as a caretaker for Dr. Elias a month before his passing and within that period of time I had the opportunity to be able to care for such a fun loving, jovial, and charismatic individual such as he. Whenever Dr. Elias wanted something he would smile at me and I would immediately know what he needed. He never failed to greet me with that same smile anytime I came to look after him. That is how I will always remember him, smiling. Dr. Elias, you took your last breath with your hand in mine and you may not be here physically but your suffering is over and I will always cherish the memories we shared. Until we meet again, may you Rest In Peace in the loving hands of God.

Adelaida Atkinson

May 6, 2021

Dr. Deetlefs was an amazing doctor and friend. I worked with him for 19 years and on my last day working with him, we spoke such sweet and kinds words that it brought me to tears. He treated EVERYONE with dignity and respect. His compassion, knowledge and love of humanity are unmatched ❤

Shola Sanusi

May 5, 2021

Dr Deetlefs was a kindhearted, loving gentleman, and an awesome ER Physician. I will truly miss him.
No matter how busy the day was, he would always find the time to ask after my kids. Rest on dearly beloved, in the bosom of your maker.
We love you, but God loves you more.

Stephanie Hernandez

May 5, 2021

He was very dedicated to Pts. & ER staff. He was generous and also had a great sense of humor. I will never forget him.

Brandon Kumar

May 5, 2021

I met Dr. Deetlefs working nights at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights. He was always a joy to be around, he built the nursing staff up through his words and his knowledge often challenging us to learn more and be better. I remember on many occasions (when we were slow) he’d pull up a chair beside us, eager to rattle off something he had just learned. This meant the world to many of us, the knowledge he shared with us s will remain forever. The grace and care he gave each and every patient regardless of the situation was something to be in awe of. He was a great man. I remember him always telling me “you’re too smart Brandon, one day you will be the CEO of this place.” I hope to make this happen one day, he was always in my corner as well as the rest of the staff at Greater Heights.

The world in general yet more specifically the world of medicine needs more Elias Deetlefs in it. He will be greatly missed.