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Former Pretoria News editor Val Boje to be laid to rest during private ceremony

Val Boje at the Union Buildings overlooking the City she so dearly loved.

Val Boje at the Union Buildings overlooking the City she so dearly loved.

Published Oct 8, 2021


Pretoria - Former Pretoria News editor Val Boje will be laid to rest on Sunday during a private ceremony in the nation’s capital.

Regarding the funeral, the family said: “The service and celebration of life will be held for Val Boje/Devenish on Sunday at a chapel in Pretoria, where Val and husband Roy were married 38 years ago.

“Unfortunately, due to the current lockdown regulations, attendance at the event will be by invitation only.

“The family would like to extend an open invitation to anyone who wishes to join the livestream to do so.”

Boje passed away on Monday morning after undergoing minor heart surgery at Zuid-Afrikaans Hospital in Pretoria.

The veteran journalist, who would have turned 63 next month, was still upbeat the previous week about her stint in the hospital.

Her untimely death came as a shock, not only to her family and the media fraternity, but also to her many friends and acquaintances.

Tributes poured in from across the spectrum, including from the diplomatic corps.

Among them is a tribute from the Japanese ambassador in South Africa, his excellency Maruyama Norio, who said her death came as a shock.

“Her countless awards and the recognition of her achievements throughout her illustrious career are testimony of her talents and education.

“She published many insightful and appreciated articles on Japan over the years, displaying a deep and extensive understanding of our country.

“I well remember discussions with her on many occasions, on a number of topics, including on how to further the excellent bilateral relations between Japan and South Africa, as well as the future course of our countries and the world as a whole,” the ambassador said.

Pakistani High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr Mazhar Javed, said Boje’s death would leave a vacuum in the media industry.

“With her long association with ­Pretoria News, I can imagine the vacuum that her colleagues must be feeling in PN offices and corridors. I had a couple of meetings with her, including online. A great journalist and a person who was always ready to help,” Dr Javed said.

He added that the “Pakistan High Commission (in collaboration with ­Pretoria News or the Press Club)” would be “organising a small Remembrance Event for her”.

But it was especially her husband, Roy Devenish, who had to bid farewell to his “chief Brownie”.

They would have been celebrating their next wedding anniversary on October 30.

Boje, born on November 9 in England, died at 7.45am on October 4, of heart failure while waiting to have a heart valve replaced.

She joined the Pretoria News as a junior reporter in January 1980, after graduating from Rhodes University with a BA Journalism.

Val spent her entire working life with the News, devoted to informing the people of the city.

“She was an outstanding municipal reporter who built up an extremely good network of contacts among staff and councillors of the then Pretoria City Council, with a reputation for accuracy and deep understanding of municipal affairs.

“Thanks to an excellent contact at what was then Johannesburg International Airport, she was among the first reporters on the scene when Pope John Paul made an unscheduled stopover in South Africa,” her husband, who was once her news editor at the Pretoria News, recalled.

But, more than anything, he will always fondly remember her as his “Chief Brownie”.

Boje was branded the “Chief Brownie” by long-time colleague Franz Schaefer, who, probably slightly irked by the volume of stories she generated about Scout and Guiding activities, looked up one day to see her in a new brown outfit with natty pockets.

“Look,” he cried, “it’s the Chief Brownie…” And she featured in over 700 Wayfarer columns. But in truth Val had been a committed and very successful Guide, leading her troop to winning the Clarendon Cup and being an active street collector for various charities.

“As a reporter she not only wrote ­stories about the Guides, Scouts and Cubs (and Brownies!), but also was a willing participant in lectures to the groups and judging their activities, even as editor.”

Christine Devenish, Val’s daughter, on Facebook said she was entering a new chapter in her life, “one without my best friend and irreplaceable mom, Valerie.

“You were an incredible mother, wife, colleague, friend, woman.”

As one of Val’s close friends said, she will leave an unfillable gap in the lives of many – not only her family.

Val doted on her children – Christine, who lives in England, and son John, his wife Carli and her two grandchildren, who live in Pretoria.

She also regarded her stepson Greg, whom she helped to raise, very dearly.

She will always be remembered as a warm and caring friend, mother, wife and confidant.

Not only was she an impeccable newspaper person, but above all, she loved life and all around her.

Rest in peace, Val.

Pretoria News