Remembering Mr Europa’s legacy

Community leader Frederik Europa died on Sunday August 15.

Nathalie Europa-Mercuur, Cafda School of Skills

On Sunday August 15, around 7pm, after a short illness, Frederik Europa died in Victoria Hospital. He had spent only one week in hospital, and, much to the dismay of his family, quietly slipped away.

The funeral service was held at Every Nation Church, in Retreat, on Friday August 20, and attended by his immediate family and a few friends.

Frederik Europa was born in Bredasdorp on November 9 1934. At the age of 19, he set out to live in Cape Town. He was never afraid of hard work, and as a young man he worked in a restaurant, then Burlington factory and finally landed his dream job at Cafda (Cape Flats Distress/Development Association) in the late 1960s.

He was employed as the community organiser at the Mary Attlee Centre in Retreat. The job included, inter alia, creating meaningful activities for the youth and the community at large, youth leadership training and community development. He worked for Cafda until he retired at the age of 65.

He married Jeanette (née Hartogh) in 1962 and raised five children. Sadly, she died a mere 18 months before him.

Many people knew him from their youth activities at the Mary Attlee Centre, his work with various charities and NGOs, the Toastmasters Club, talks with students studying social work at UCT, the Steenberg Community Police Forum and even his work as an assessor at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court until he was in his late 70s.

He was most known for his duties as a religious leader and his work as a pastor in the church he attended. He was always ready for a chat or a joke with neighbours, shop owners or passers-by.

As his children, we were never really known by our names, but more often referred to as “Mr Europa’s laaitie”. We knew from a very young age that our dad “belonged” to many people, yet he was always available to us. We could depend on him and so did our children.

He spent his days doing community and church work and his nights in various meetings about community and church work. He still enjoyed cooking most nights and spending time with his family.

He was fit and very health conscious. I remember, as a child, waking up to the sound of him skipping in the yard. He was always walking – if not with the dog, then just to the shop or the post office. In fact, things shifted drastically for him about three weeks ago when he took a hard tumble, on one of his walks, in 12th Avenue Retreat. We are grateful to the unknown person who assisted him. His health rapidly deteriorated from there.

To his children, he was known as Daddy, to his grandchildren, Pappa, to some he was uncle Freddy (or Frikkie over Sir Lowry’s Pass), to many he introduced himself by his self-made name, as Frederik Jakobus Gottlieb Gerhardus Europa. To the people in his beloved community, he was known as Mr Europa. Whatever name he was known by, he was deeply admired and loved. He will be sorely missed.