“Johnny Walker” remembered

Edward Michael, better known as “Johnny Walker”, leaves a legacy of “being humble, compassionate and always thinking of other people.”

Edward died from prostate cancer on Wednesday June 24, at the age of 79 – he would have been 80 on July 19.

After spending most of his life being active, Edward stopped walking two years ago as he became ill and spent his last living hours at Melomed Tokai Hospital.

His brother Thomas, 74, a home-based care volunteer, said: “For more than a year he could not communicate with us.”

He said his brother had a walking history of over 40 years.

It started when Edward got injured while playing for Yorkshire Football Club at William Herbert sports field, in Wynberg. “After the injury he joined a so-called coloured club called Cape of Good Hope Athletic Club. They walked along the main road in small groups during the apartheid years in the 1960s.”

Thomas said he remembered the “coloureds” took part in a race on April 6 and the “whites” had their own race on October 10, 1964.

Edward would walk every day and he entered many races. He was a lifelong member of Spartan Harriers Club, in Meadowridge.

A tribute on Spartan Harriers Club’s Facebook page said: “Well-known walking legend, Eddie was very well known and completed the most 80km Big Walk races, winning the event three times. Eddie also won the London to Brighton race in spite of getting lost along the route. Our condolences go out to Eddie’s family and friends in this difficult time.”

Thomas said his brother will be remembered as “being humble and compassionate and always thinking of other people”.

“He helped others, and he loved to see children excel. He always said the children of today should take any opportunity (presented to them),” as they were not given that privilege during apartheid.

Thomas said he and his brother and two sisters grew up in Steurhof and had to leave because of the Group Areas Act.

“Eddie got married and moved to Lotus River.”

Advocate Hishaam Mohamed, chairperson of the Southern Suburbs Legal Advice Centre, who was Edward’s neighbour, said he mourns the passing of an “outstanding” sportsman and athlete. “Many in our community lovingly referred to him as Johnny Walker. For years he stood as one of the beacons of non-racial sport as a member of Spartan Harriers.

“Many long-standing Lotus River and Grassy Park residents will remember him as the friendly speed-walker from Lotus River one used to encounter striding along the M5 highway, always waving. He was a veteran of the Cape Times Big Walk.

“Eddie, a humble and ever-smiling athlete, also played a key role in the community, coaching the youth about the benefits of walking as a competitive sport.

“As my neighbour of many years, I was part of his household when growing up. We dip our progressive banner in honour and stand to salute this great champion athlete of South Africa. We extend our condolences to the family, especially his wife Grace, sister Linda, son Nigel and daughter Kendahl Peskin,” said Mr Mohamed.