South Coast mourns the death of much-loved Rotarian

Dr Piet van Eeden.

THE death of dedicated Rotarian Dr Piet van Eeden (85), who lived his life according to the Rotarian motto of Service above Self, has left the South Coast community poorer for his passing.

Kind, charming Piet was known for his warm personality and sense of humour, but he had a serious side. He was a highly respected dentist and was extremely community-minded.

In many ways, often through his membership of Margate Rotary Club and, later, the amalgamated Hibiscus Coast Rotary Club, he helped make the world a better place.

During his years as a Rotarian he not only served as club president but was the vocational director for many years. It was through this office that Piet did so much for Suid-Natal High’s Learners with Special Education Needs unit. Every year he was a VIP guest at the unit’s prize-giving ceremonies. He was also involved in the Flower Foundation for elderly people.

His hard work and dedication earned him recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow and later, further recognition in the form of a prestigious Paul Harris Sapphire Pin.

Piet was born in Mowbray in the Cape but attended school in De Aar, where he developed his great love for the Karoo. He studied dentistry at the University of the Witwatersrand, qualifying in 1954 and joining a large practice in Durban, where he met his wife, Jill.

It was their mutual love of music that brought them together. They met at a jazz concert and were married a year later. Their walk down the aisle marked the start of about 60 years of happily married life and they celebrated their diamond anniversary last year.

Soon after their wedding Piet bought a practice in Estcourt, where they spent nearly 20 happy years. They joined Round Table and Piet joined a golf club – he was an avid golfer who played this sport until he was well into his 70s.

Jill has always loved amateur dramatics and soon she and Piet were acting on local stages, organising annual Round Table cabaret shows and staging magical pantomimes.

In the late 1970s Piet and Jill moved again, this time back to Durban where Piet took over a busy Durban North practice.

In 1989, after he sold this practice and was thinking of retiring, he was talked into taking over as the state dentist in Port Shepstone. When he finally did retire and he and Jill moved to Margate Retirement Village about 10 years ago, Piet still continued to practise his profession, assisting village residents with their dentures.

Ever since moving to the South Coast Piet and Jill had always involved themselves in community affairs. They joined Rotary and the 41ers and Piet was still a member of these organisations when he died.

Piet was also a Margate Country Club golfer until just a few years ago, serving as club captain at one stage. Even after ill health stopped him from playing his favourite sport he continued to be a keen walker.

He and Jill have graced many local stages, usually at Jill’s behest and always to raise money for charity.

Best of all the popular couple made a wide circle of friends, including a group which nicknamed itself ‘the jetties’, a play on the term ‘jet setters’. The couples started socialising and travelling together many years ago and still meet regularly for bring and share suppers.

About 18 months ago Piet’s health began to fail and he died at the Margate Retirement Village on February 12, leaving Jill, his son, Simon, two grandchildren and many dear friends.

His memorial service was held at Margate Methodist Church.

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  AUTHOR
Judi Davis
Reporter

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