A woman with a heart of gold who cared for her fellow people like they were her own children – these were some of the words used by family and residents of Retreat to describe stalwart community worker Christina Killian (nee Jacobs) who passed away on Friday June 9.
Ms Killian, 79, was rushed to hospital on Thursday evening after suffering a massive stroke.
Ms Killian was the chairperson of the Retreat Health Committee for 20 years but stepped down in 2015 when her health deteriorated (“Community worker bows out”, Southern Mail, April 1 2015).
She was instrumental in the transformation of the Retreat Health Clinic from a day hospital to a 24-hour emergency facility and has been a voice of the people, saying that it was her duty to speak on behalf of the community and for better health services to benefit all.
Before the facility was made a 24-hour clinic, people who became ill or were injured outside of the hours of 8am and 4pm had to go to Victoria Hospital.
Besides her health committee duties, Ms Killian volunteered her services at the clinic’s pharmacy and collected medication for the elderly who due to illness could not travel there.
She also ran a soup kitchen in her area and worked closely with Lourier Primary School opposite her home in Chopin Street to provide support in many forms over the years.
Ms Killian has raised seven children. She has 30 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
Granddaughter Kim Jacobs said her
granmother was an amazing woman.
“She was always there for us as well as the community. She was like a mother to everyone in the community and she will be dearly missed by those she cared for,” said Ms Jacobs.
Long-time friend and a former teacher at Lourier Primary School, Soraya Solomon, said Ms Killian’s list of community work is endless.
“I knew her for so many years because she was involved with the school and so many other projects. She fed the poor, the children who came from school, she fetched tablets for the sick and frail, she took people and animals under her wing and the list goes on and on. She was truly the mother Theresa of Retreat,” said Ms Solomon.
Son Mark Killian said his mother was the pillar of strength in their family.
“She was very involved with the community and wanted to do her part and she was very fond of her family, especially the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a strong defender of the family and always encouraged us to persevere. She also taught us to honour and respect all people and that is what we live by and her legacy will continue through her family and the work that she has done,” he said.
Ms Killian was in the process of writing her life story when she passed away.
Mr Killian said his mother’s memoirs were in their possession and the family would come together to discuss plans for the book.
“My mother’s story is an untold one of many people on the Cape Flats that needs to be told,” said Mr Killian.
Ms Killian was orphaned and sold off into slavery at the age of 13 (“Forgiveness sets Christina free from slavery”, Southern Mail, Wednesday May 25, 2016).
For five years Ms Killian worked as a nanny before eventually running away.
Despite being a victim of slavery, Ms Killian went on to become one of the most respected community leaders in Retreat.
Monique Johnston, on behalf of the Western Cape Health Department, sent their condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Ms Killian.
Mr Killian also thanked the community and all those who have shown the family support.
A memorial service will be held at the Douglas Murray Home for the Aged at 53 Gordon Searle Street on Wednesday June 14, at 7pm.
The funeral service will be held on Youth Day, Friday June 16 at the Lakeview Baptist Church on the corner of Joe Marks Boulevard and Cowell Way, Retreat. Viewing will be at 8.30am and the funeral service will follow at 9.30am.