Ex-Cape principal and his nurse wife succumb to Covid-19 less than 24 hours apart
Cape Town - A former Cape principal and nurse, who had recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, succumbed to Covid-19 just hours after each other, over the weekend.
The former Fairview Primary School principal, Cedric Esterhuizen, died on Saturday, and wife, Maureen, both 72, died on Sunday. The couple lived in Second Avenue, Fairways. Maureen was a retired nurse who had previously worked at the Grassy Park Day Hospital.
Their son, Cedric Andre Esterhuizen, said his parents were both admitted to Melomed Gatesville Private Hospital, on December 31.
“Mom went straight to the ICU Covid-19 ward because she was worse off than dad. Dad was in the Covid-19 ward. They were both diagnosed with Covid-19 pneumonia,” he said.
“Mom was on high flow oxygen. Eventually, they had to put her on a ventilator. Dad, at that stage, just had the normal nasal oxygen and was fairly stable for a while, and then three days before he passed, his condition deteriorated rapidly and he was admitted to ICU.”
His father died at 8.30pm on Saturday and his mother at 6.30pm on Sunday.
The two had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on December 19.
He thanked healthcare workers for taking good care of his parents, and always kept the family informed of their condition. Hospital staff arranged for video calls for the family and offered counselling at the time.
On how the family was holding up, he said: “We’ve got the support of each and all our friends. We were inundated with calls from ex-students and teachers. The support has been overwhelming, comforting.”
His father, lovingly referred to as ‘Essie’, by those nearest to him, started as an educator when Fairview Primary first opened its doors in 1975, then Klip Primary. He became principal of the school in 1993 and retired in 2008.
In 2010, he returned to the school and served on the Schools Governing Board for three years.
Current Principal and former student of Esterhuizen, Keith Meyers, described him as a quiet, unassuming person, with an innocently mischievous streak.
“He was very distinctive looking, this tall chap with a beard, but he was never someone who would raise his voice. He would never shout to show his anger. He was a gentle giant, said Meyer.
“Because of his leadership, he influenced many of us to become leaders ourselves. There are many teachers at Fairview Primary that became principals and heads of departments at other institutions because he had a knack of teaching you to take up leadership roles, way beyond the norm. He was never protective of his status but shared that leadership with us.”
A memorial service was held last night, and the funeral is expected to take place on Sunday. They are survived by four children and eight grandchildren.