On October 19, after a short time in hospital, Ben Calitz, a Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players Fund recipient, passed away suddenly but peacefully at the age of 65 in Sonop, just outside Brits. Gail Baerecke, general manager of the Fund, pays tribute to Ben: “It is not often in life that one meets a person who has decided that, in spite of being part of the ‘nasty club’, he was going to live his life to the fullest – in fact, he would only settle on a life that was overflowing with love, friendship, happiness, compassion, love of the outdoors and fishing, being involved with his community, connecting with others and interacting – no matter what it took.
“After writing matric in 1968, Ben joined the police force as a student and was temporarily stationed at Brits in the North West Province. He was a force to be reckoned with on the rugby field and in June of 1969, whilst playing for the Brits Police Force Rugby Club, he fell badly in a scrum, damaged his spinal cord and this injury ended his life as he knew it. From being an independent young man of 18, just fresh out of school with all his dreams ahead of him, he had to adjust to life in a wheelchair and living with a life-changing disability. This is when Ben’s true resilience kicked in; he carefully planned his future and never deviated from this course for the next 46 years.
“Ben lived in Sonop for many years with his beloved wife Sue and their family. They raised their two children there and watched their grandchildren growing up and playing in their neatly kept garden. Our condolences go out to the Calitz family during this very sad time. Ben will be missed by all those whose lives he touched.”