COMMUNITY stalwart and former civic activist Derek Victor died on October 12 after a long battle with lymphoma.
An often controversial figure in the community for taking on the municipality, Victor was also respected and admired by many, with the tributes on Talk of the Town’s Facebook page bearing testimony of how many lives he touched.
He was born in Cape Town on May 15 1954, moved to Johannesburg as a child and grew up in Parkhurst. He attended Parkhurst Primary, King Edward’s and matriculated at age 16 from Sir John Adamson, where he was a prefect.
As a child he enjoyed playing baseball for Pirates in Parkhurst and also attended Craven Week cricket.
He studied at Wits and graduated as a chartered accountant.
Victor went to police college to avoid military conscription and married Anita Louise Goodwin in February 1976.
They lived in Middelburg in the Eastern Transvaal for a while, where Victor worked for a granite mine.
When they moved back to Johannesburg he worked in finance and insurance, and travelled to many countries around the world.
He, Anita and their daughters, Kathryn and Amy, had been coming to Port Alfred for holidays at his sister’s holiday home since 1988.
By the time their daughters had matriculated and were settled in tertiary education, Derek and Anita moved to Port Alfred by which stage they had their own little holiday house at The Stables.
They bought Medolino Caravan Park in 1998. “We took it from the bottom and turned it into a five star grading caravan park with lots of visitors from all over the world,” Anita said.
Victor was a member of the NSRI for a time, and still remained active in support for the NSRI for years afterward. The NSRI proved to be of great help during several floods in the Medolino valley, when residents had to be evacuated from their homes. Victor himself proved a selfless hero in these floods, abandoning his own home and possessions to rescue the lives and property of other people.
Flooding in the valley and the absence of adequate stormwater drainage proved to be a huge burden for Victor, who battled with the municipality to address the issue over many years.
He was probably best known for his Ndlambe Action Group (Nag) initiative several years ago, which he first formed with fellow working and retired professionals to try assist the municipality with finances and service delivery.
When they came up against a wall of bureaucratic and political resistance, Nag launched a rates withholding campaign in a bid to compel the municipality to address key concerns. After about two years the campaign floundered from dwindling support and was threatened by a precedent established by the Supreme Court of Appeal, which ruled that municipalities may disconnect the electricity of people who fail to pay their rates.
With his own health affected after being diagnosed with lymphoma, Victor ended the Nag chapter.
As a young man, Victor played league squash until he was 28, when he had a heart attack, then played veterans until he was 40, when he had a triple bypass. He did boating ever since, and would have been a familiar face to many people who needed to get their skipper’s licence.
He served as chairman of the local tourism board and was also called upon to chair, mediate or arbitrate disciplinary hearings, including for Ndlambe Municipality.
A semi-reclusive man, Victor nonetheless enjoyed eating out at several local establishments and striking up conversations with other patrons and staff, remaining a beloved regular even as his health deteriorated.
He leaves behind Anita, and daughters Kathryn and Amy and their families.