Two days before his 84th birthday, prominent community leader Vincent Carelse, better known as Oom Kallie, was laid to rest on Saturday January 4 after a packed service at St Augustine’s Anglican Church in 5th Avenue, Lotus River.
A foundation and school fees bursary fund for needy children was announced at his funeral to continue the memory of Oom Kallie’s service in the community.
Oom Kallie was seldom sick but was hospitalised for kidney failure on Friday December 13 and died on Thursday December 26, Day of Goodwill.
His family decided to initiate the bursary fund after hearing the community speaking about Oom Kallie’s legacy at his memorial service on Thursday January 2.
The turnout at the service spoke volumes about the impact left by Oom Kallie as people filled the church and hall while many had to stand outside.
One of his many mottos was that charity begins at home. His six children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren can attest to that.
As a parent, his motto had been to always find a “teachable moment” not only for his own children but the whole community.
His son Jonathan said if there was a paper littering the area or a plant destroyed, he would teach the children to clean up and to stop destroying the environment.
Oom Kallie played a significant role in the lives of many and a few speakers shared their experiences with him at the funeral service.
Beryl Miller, administrator at the African National Congress office of Advocate Hishaam Mohamed, member of Parliament, read out Mr Mohamed’s speech.
She read that Oom Kallie was an activist who fought against discrimination and who tried to eradicate poverty. “He was a member of our ANC branch office in Grassy Park. He was an extraordinary activist for human rights in the Lotus River community. Although he had displayed a caring nature towards his fellow human beings he never used to be afraid of fighting for justice. His house was always frequented by members of the community where he would help with social, economic and political problems. We honour the exemplary life of this stalwart whose actions always spoke louder than words.”
Ward 65 councillor Patricia van der Ross said she had learned many things from Oom Kallie and although he supported the ANC, Oom Kallie assisted the members at the DA’s office. “Oom Kallie also had a great impact on my life,” she said.
Oom Kallie ran for ward councillor twice in Ward 65, but was not successful.
However, he took Ms Van der Ross under his wing and taught her a few life’s lessons, she said. “He taught me how to be humble, despite what anyone says of you, how to love unconditionally and not to look at the colour or where a person comes from but just to love, to serve the community passionately despite the political background, how to share with care.
“Never forget he was a man who loved unconditionally and who served you passionately,” said Ms Van Der Ross.
Education and sport were on top of Oom Kallie’s passion list and he volunteered most of his time at Zeekoevlei High School since 1990, where he served on many committees.
Principal William Prinsloo, who was very close to Oom Kallie, said: “Oom Kailie was an icon. He was a legend in his own lifetime. He had an unwavering support especially for the poor, underprivileged and those who suffered.”
Oom Kallie was a hands-on person and he would make sure there was food for the hungry, wheelchairs for the frail and houses, electricity and water for the needy.
Mr Prinsloo said: “He was a mentor and he was like a psychologist because he was an excellent listener. He was an emotional being who cried easily. He was identified by a health organisation via the University of Cape Town to choose someone who was in need of a wheelchair. He would hand over the wheelchair (to the recipient of his choice), with tears in his eyes.”
Mr Prinsloo said Oom Kallie was also responsible for turning around the lives of those who used drugs and with his, “outstanding parental skills it was evident many former pupils who had been influenced by Oom Kallie, turned out to be successful”.
He served on the school committee for 29 years. He was the chairperson of the disciplinary committee and served on the school governing body (SGB).
Oom Kallie’s last words to Mr Prinsloo and his wife was “Ek is lief vir julle” (I love you all).
“Rest well,” said an emotional Mr Prinsloo.
Three of Oom Kallie’s children followed his interest in education and they chose to work in the teaching profession.
His eldest son, Ezra Carelse told Southern Mail that his dad grew up in Pacaltsdorp in George. Oom Kallie’s mother worked in Kirstenbosch, as a chef.
Oom Kallie inherited his mother’s culinary skills and he would often cook food to distribute to the needy.
He lived in Simon’s Town for a while and then settled in Lotus River.
Oom Kallie was a great dancer and an ardent sportsman. His passion for cricket was recognised because for the last few years he had been invited to many test cricket matches.
Mr Carelse said: “This time of the year he would have been on the Newlands cricket field where they would have sung for his birthday. Once Graeme Smith, former captain of the Proteas cricket
team, autographed his cap, ‘To Oom Kallie, what a legend.’ If only he knew how prophetic his words are.
“In every country or art or sport there will be a man who would make a difference. Lotus River is honoured to have known a giant such sas Oom Kallie. We salute him for the legacy that he lived.
“We as a family started a
foundation in the name of Oom Kallie for the upliftment of the youth but we welcome anyone to support the foundation.
“This year we will start with five matriculants of Zeekoevlei High and we will cover their school
fees. Added to the fund we will
also choose one Grade 9 learn-
er and continue to pay school
feels until he or she completes matric.”
He quoted the poet Jan FE Celliers’s poem called Generaal De Wet: “Stil, broers, daar gaan ‘* man verby, hy groet, en dis verlaas. Daar’s nog maar éé* soos hy; bekyk hom
“Oom Kallie, what a man, what a giant, what a colossus. Go well, dad.”