Final farewell for nature lover, media spokesperson Craig Allenby
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Pretoria - Craig Allenby will forever be remembered as the gentle giant who was always at the top of his game, and who was always there for his friends, family and media colleagues.
Allenby, who worked as the director of marketing and communication at the National Zoological Gardens, was found dead in his Pretoria East home on Thursday.
He was buried yesterday in a small ceremony attended by close friends and family.
Rabbi Saar Shaked, who officiated at the funeral, pleaded for forgiveness for being unable to stop Allenby from allegedly taking his own life and failure to alleviate his stress.
Although police investigations are continuing, at this stage no foul play is suspected.
Close friend Fiona Capstick said he (Allenby) was a man of cast-iron integrity and a kind spirit, who in the face of a particularly intolerable situation which caused him immense anguish and distress for two years, continued to stand firm.
“His Judaism meant everything to him, and he carried no grudges. We often joked that whoever won the Powerball would share the proceeds and we would fly off and get property in Israel.
“If there has ever been someone in your life who has touched you as long as there is one person who remembers that person they remain alive.”
Elliot Mashile, chief operations officer at the SA National Biodiversity Institute, said the institution was saddened at his death.
Mashile said Allenby was a humble and hard-working individual, and his absence had already been felt as he had left a void that would be difficult to fill.
He said he possessed a gift with dealing with life, staff and being the darling of the media as he attended to all media enquiries without hesitation.
“He managed to maintain a good image of the National Zoological Gardens. Even when we were getting negative criticism from social media he was there to portray the positive aspects of what we were doing at the zoo.
“He helped us to show the world the good work because he knew when to say something and knew when to keep quiet. He really was a wonderful soul.”
Mashile passed on his condolences and those of the board of directors of the zoological gardens to Allenby’s friends and family.
Friend Phillip Bruwer said he had worked with Allenby for 20 years and was among the first contacts he made working as a journalist in Pretoria.
Bruwer said from the moment he met Allenby he came across a gentle giant who was always available to provide comment, no matter the time of day or night.
“I’m going to miss his smile, gentleness, caringness and the passion he had for his work. He was a guy of strong faith, and stood for no discrimination.”
Bruwer was referring to the altercation that ensued before the service as the orthodox sects and progressive sects of the Jewish faith argued against women carrying the coffin and handling the shovel during the funeral.
“Craig liked to make a good stand and have the final say, so although it was unpleasant to witness the altercation by the religious leaders I think he got his way again to have all present and participating in his farewell.”
Allenby was laid to rest at the Jewish Cemetery in Philip Nel Park.