Cameraman gets moving send-off

David Macgregor

TEARS – and beers – flowed at a moving memorial service for an award winning Port Alfred television cameraman who died of cancer last week.

But, instead of just mourning 64-year-old Ivan Oberholzer’s death, family and friends from across South Africa and beyond also laughed and joked as they recalled his remarkable life journey from Welkom in the Free State – via 77 countries – to his retirement in a simple wooden beach “shack” in Port Alfred.

Wearing hats similar to the ones Oberholzer loved to wear, young and old, black and white, got together to bid the colourful cameraman farewell on Friday afternoon.

Although not in good health after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma bone marrow cancer in 2008 – which saw him later undergo severe chemotherapy and a lifesaving stem cell transplant – Oberholzer’s love of life and his wife Sue became an inspiration even to complete strangers who regularly tuned in to his weekly Afrikaans community radio show on Kowie FM.

The memorial service was recorded by his radio station colleagues to be used in the weeks to come in honour of Oberholzer’s never say die attitude which saw him hosting his last show, despite feeling very sick, two days before he died.

“He was a true legend; an inspiration to everyone who met him,” station manager Shaun van Heerden said. A group of township singers brought mourners to tears as they harmonised a moving tribute called Never give up.

Colleagues from TV and radio who attended the memorial service included Fokus’s Danie Hefers, Jessica Pitchford, Veronica Fourie and Byron Taylor. Sympathy messages from all over the world were read out.

Oberholzer, who worked for many years with the SABC and on the Oosterlig newspaper in Port Elizabeth, was described as an adventurer and a free and kind soul.

Recently, his kindness saw him digging deep into his own pocket to repaint faded stop street signs.

Oberholzer told of how the pot-holed roads in the seaside resort had given him a new lease of life. During one of his regular weekend cycle rides with Sue, his wheel snagged in a pothole and he hurt himself as he fell.

Blood tests during a visit to the doctor revealed the multiple myeloma and the treatment extended his life for several more years.

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