OBITUARY: Motoring journalist Mike Winfield was a gentleman to the end

By Willem vd Putte Time of article published Jan 21, 2021

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PRETORIA - Respected and retired motoring journalist and sub-editor Mike Winfield died on Monday night as a result of Covid-19 complications. Mike worked for many of IOL’s sister titles during his career.

“My brother Mike died today, after contracting Covid in the hospital he went to for treatment of a back injury. He appeared to have survived the Covid infection, but his diabetes may have complicated his recovery. He was an intelligent, gentle man with an incisive intellect and a keen sense of humour. RIP Mike, I’ll never stop loving you,” his brother Barry announced on Facebook.

Winfield worked out of the Pretoria News office for most of his career and his knowledge and love of cars steered many young reporters in the right direction when it came to purchasing their first vehicle.

Val Boje, editor of the Pretoria News, said Mike was a lovely man to work with. "He was quiet and a real gentleman, and he took great pride in his work which was always immaculate. I recall him sitting in our office, pouring over the Motoring pages to ensure every last detail was correct," she said.

On a personal note she remembers Mike's agreement to chauffeur her daughter to her matric dance - including the pre-event - in a sporty car he'd arranged with one of his contacts. The boys were suitably impressed.

Veteran Pretoria News journalist Zelda Venter described him as “an absolute gentleman”. “In all the time I knew and worked with him in the newsroom I never heard an angry or bad word from him.”

“Like the old cars he enjoyed racing at Zwartkops sometimes, he was a classic. Apart from being a great writer and very accomplished driver, he was a humble man, a gentle soul who always acted with kindness,” said former Independent Newspapers Motoring editor Denis Droppa.

Former motoring journalist Minesh Bhagaloo described Winfield as a fatherly figure to scribes. “Mike was way more than your average sub-editor. He cast this fatherly shadow over our writing, and instead of just subbing our copy he made a point of mentoring our craft in his subtle and gentle way.

“He made a point of not only guiding us but constantly encouraging us when he enjoyed something we cobbled together. As an individual Mike was both a scholar and a gentleman, harsh words and harsh thoughts were not in his character. The thought of a good book and a quiet evening described a perfect scenario for Mr Winfield after a long day, while giving him the opportunity to talk about our motoring landscape over the years never failed to herald many an interesting nugget.”

“It was impossible to not respect a man who had seen and done it all for decades before me,” said former colleague Jesse Adams.

“Mike had assumed the role of sub-editor by the time I joined the Motoring team, and generally speaking, subs and journalists get on like oil and water.

“But with Mike the relationship was different. He had a genuine passion for cars and an authoritative understanding of the industry. For many years we relied on Mike to put the final polish on the thousands of articles published, and there was no better person for the job,” Adams added.

I got to know Mike before my role as group motoring co-ordinator when, as group production editor, we would introduce updated systems and software. As a man who started his career when lead was still being used he had seen many changes in the industry.

He would sit through the tutorials and listen intently, knowing he would have to adjust so he could carefully go through copy to make sure it was just right. Later he would call me over and ask to clarify a keystroke or technical glitch with his frustration clearly visible. Not once did I hear him complain, curse or say something bad. He would nod, take it in and carry on working.

A gentleman to the end.

Pretoria News

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