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Prominent city resident dies

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Over the course of more than a century Shuttleworth had touched countless lives, especially those closest to him.

Lawrie Shuttleworth. Picture: Supplied

FORMER Kimberley mayor and prominent resident of the city, Lawrie Shuttleworth, died in the early hours of yesterday morning at the age of 103.

The third son, Shuttleworth was born in Grahamstown on November 18, 1914 and enrolled at Rhodes University in 1933 for a BCom degree which he completed in 1935, majoring in actuarial science.

While studying at Rhodes, he distinguished himself at boxing and was the Bantamweight champion at the university.

He started flying before the war and had his wings while the world was still at peace, joining the South African Air Force’s “Pirow” pilot training scheme in 1937.

He was called up for active duty when war broke out.

During his operation flying he was shot down twice and also made a sea crash-landing due to engine failure. At the end of the war he had logged nearly 1 700 flying hours and was awarded the DFC for his “qualities of leadership and devotion to duty”.

After the war, Shuttleworth completed his articles in Johannesburg before settling with his wife, Claudia, who was the daughter of a well-known Zululand sugar farmer, in Kimberley where he had a long and successful career in auditing.

He served on the Kimberley City Council for 26 years from 1968 to 1994 and was the mayor of city from 1972 to 1974. During his term of office he bestowed the Freedom of the City on the late Harry Oppenheimer.

The tram service from the Big Hole and the lemon trees on the pavements of Kimberley were initiated by Shuttleworth, who was also responsible for the establishment of the Youth Hostel (Gum Tree Lodge) in the city.

“Through my association with Rotary and the city council, I felt that affordable accommodation was necessary to attract tourists to the city.”

He played a prominent role in the promotion of the Diamond City as a tourist attraction. The Kimberley Publicity Association bestowed a life-time achievement award on him for his contribution to tourism.

Shuttleworth was also instrumental in saving the City Hall from demolition and erecting the Pioneers of Aviation Museum.

He was invited by Mark Shuttleworth, his brother’s grandson, to go to Russia to witness the launch of the first African into space. Mark’s father (Richard) attended Kimberley Boys’ High School and virtually grew up in his uncle’s home.

By simply reaching his 100th birthday in 2014, Shuttleworth achieved more than most could in several lifetimes but the centurion was not one to let age deter him from defying the odds and making history.

This was perfectly illustrated in January this year when, already into his eleventh decade, he underwent cataract surgery on his right eye.

The surgeon who performed the procedure, Ophthalmologist Dr Meldrick Booysen, said that Shuttleworth was the oldest patient he has ever operated on. A spokesperson for the Gariep Mediclinic confirmed that he was the eldest patient ever to undergo surgery at the facility.

Yesterday afternoon, Shuttleworth’s youngest daughter, Jennifer, said that while the alderman’s impact on the city was likely to be felt by residents for many years to come, she would always remember him as a kind, committed and loving father who had made an immeasurable contribution to her personal life and that of her family.

“My father was a wonderful man,” she recalled. “I was about six months old when we arrived in Kimberley and as far back as I can remember, he was extremely involved in the community.

“Apart from being an active Rotarian for more than 60 years along with several other organisations, he was very involved in the St Cyprian’s Cathedral where his funeral service will be taking place on Saturday.”

Shuttleworth’s son, Anthony, agreed with his sister, adding that over the course of more than a century their father had touched countless lives, especially those closest to him.

“My father is survived by three children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren,” said Anthony. “Following his passing this morning, we are still waiting for relatives to arrive in Kimberley to pay their final respects.

“He achieved so much in his life that it is difficult to even begin listing his accomplishments, but we are hoping to compile an obituary that celebrates as much of his life as possible.

“He was a very special person.”