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.

Tributes flood in for former Pretoria News editor, media stalwart Val Boje

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Oct 4, 2021

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Pretoria - Tributes are flooding in following the death of veteran journalist and former Pretoria News editor Val Boje.

Boje passed away on the operating table at the Zuid Afrikaans Hospital in Pretoria, while undergoing a minor heart operation.

Boje’s husband, Roy Devenish said : “Val lived and breathed Pretoria News since she started there in 1980 and had been part of the fabric ever since. She gave her all to the newspaper she was so proud of, and was an extremely talented reporter, editor and manager.”

The National Press Club, of which Boje was the chairperson for the past two years, expressed its condolences to her family.

At the time of her death, she was part of the team organising the annual Percy Qoboza Memorial Lecture to be held on 19 October, Black Wednesday.

Val and her husband Roy Devenish.

NPC general manager Jos Charle said Boje brought her experience and wide network of contacts to enhance the activities of the club.

“Having been colleagues for more than 25 years, I came to know Val as a passionate, professional person who threw her all into whatever she was assigned to do. This is indeed a profound loss,” Charle said.

The NPC offered its condolences to her husband, Roy Devenish, son John, daughter-in-law Carli, daughter Christine , both of whom are overseas, her parents, John and Elizabeth and her grandchildren.

Jos Charle, in his personal capacity said: “Firstly, condolences to Roy Devenish, the children, grandchildren and her parents.

“Also a word of condolences to media colleagues who have worked with and knew Val.

“I was shattered to hear of Val’s passing this morning. Only a few days ago, we chatted as she went into hospital for what we thought was a minor procedure.

“I knew she had been experiencing minor health issues in recent weeks, but it was nothing to be alarmed about and indeed she herself, was looking forward to the hospitalisation, thinking it would clear up everything and that she would be on her feet again.

“Sadly, this was not to be.

Val with family.

“Val was a professional journalist of old, a hard worker who took all her tasks seriously and executed them to perfection.

“I first met Val in the late 1980s at the Pretoria News where she was a municipal reporter and I was a general reporter. We sat next to each other in the newsroom and we became very close.

“She excelled as municipal reporter and indeed took every beat she was assigned to with enough verve and commitment.

“When Val was appointed editor of Pretoria News, I was made her deputy until I left the employ of the Independent Newspapers in 2016. We complemented each other and worked well until the last day.

Val with colleagues during the 2010 World Cup.

“Val and I were to work together again when she was elected chairperson of the National Press Club and I was elected general manager about two years ago.

“She was one of the healthiest and fittest people I knew and was always careful about what she ate.

“She was pleasant, friendly and an engaging colleague.

“Her passing closes a chapter of someone who took her role seriously and was excited to get involved in projects and see them through.

“In her our industry has lost a friend and a hard-working colleague.

“Rest in peace Val. You shall forever be remembered.”

Val with Zelda Venter and Tania Stapelberg.

Collegue Damian Paterson said: “I have worked alongside Val for more than 30 years and very closely since the late 1990s when I joined the sub-editor's department.”

“She was deputy chief-sub at the time and then became chief-sub. I eventually became her deputy and took over from her when she was promoted to assistant editor and then editor. I have seen her children Christine and John grow up and succeed in life as she has seen mine.

“We shared many times together as families at various work functions and social gatherings. Val was meticulous, precise and a true professional in everything she did and with every word that passed under her eyes.

“At the same time she was more than a colleague or boss to those that worked with her, but more of a friend to everyone she worked with.

Renata Ford with Val.

“Always having time to listen to any personal problems and to offer advice.

“She was very well known in so many circles throughout the City of Tshwane including business, council and the many embassies she often frequented. She is a massive loss not only to Independent media, her family and colleagues but to the City too. My sincere condolences go out to her husband Roy, her children, mom, dad and extended family.

“Friend, I salute you, may your kind soul rest in peace.”

Noni Mokati of the political desk said “We seldom run into people who offer themselves up to be mentors unless they are asked to.

“Val Boje was that person. She was love personified.”

Renata Ford said “A dedicated and consummate professional that brought her very own spark into the media industry. We are poorer without her. May she rest in perfect peace.”

Val as a young reporter.

“I first met Val when I joined the Pretoria News as a darkroom assistant 27 years ago.

“Journalism was Val's passion and she was good at it. Her nose for news was second to none and she loved the Pretoria News deeply. But, then there wasn't much Val wasn't good at.

“Val was a people-person, she connected easily with people from all walks of life. She was well-travelled and her energy was impressive.

“How easy she made it seem rubbing shoulders with CEOs, ambassadors and celebrities alike. But Val was also a humble person, she had the unique ability to talk to anyone. She was respected and respectful.

“Val was a colleague for many years but she was also a dear friend and mentor. I have the highest regard for her as a journalist and as a human being, and I have a deep love for her as a friend.

Val and assistant editor Kennedy Mudzuli.

“She was intensely proud of her children and loved her family deeply.

“She loved her animals. She loved to read and write and walk.

“Val simply loved life.

“Val knew how to connect with others and she touched so many lives.

“Looking through her Facebook photos this morning reminded me of that energy, that spark. She liked to keep busy.

“Val was the kind of person who always made an effort to check in with those she cared about. We shared many cups of coffee and deep philosophical chats over the years. Val was a great listener and always offered sound advice, a fresh perspective. I can only hope that I did the same for her.

“Through the various stages of Covid-19 lockdowns over these past months Val was the one person I happened to see the most often. I am so pleased to have seen her a couple of weeks back for a quick catch up.

Val Boje towards the end of her editorship.

“Who knew that it would be our last lunch together.

“I will miss her.

“Val was an amazing editor, but she was an even better wife, mother, sister, daughter, grandmother and friend.

“The world is poorer without her. My condolences to Roy, Chris and John, her parents Elizabeth and John, extended family, friends and colleagues. We share in this collective grief. May Val's soul rest in eternal peace..”

Elaine Ash, one of Boje’s best friends said: “Val and I became friends while we both worked at the Pretoria News, and in the mid 90’s became known by our colleagues and others, as Friday Night Friends, because we got together every Friday night and put the world to right over a few – or more - bottles of red wine.

“It was good that I literally lived around the corner.

“When she became editor, and I was the marketing person for the Pretoria News, we would attend functions together from ambassadorial diners to watching moto-X on the lawns of the Union Buildings. We became a Pretoria News duo and a force to be reckoned with when promoting ”our“ newspaper

“When I retired in 2016 we continued to see each other regularly, and right now, words fail me and I will miss her dearly.

“RIP my Friday Night Friend”

Lali van Zuydam, former Pretoria News reporter said: “Val was my mentor, "work mother" and friend.

“When I started my career 10 years ago, as an intern at the Pretoria News, she gave me the opportunity to prove myself. She fought for me to become a permanent part of the newsroom and she mentored me in many aspects over the past decade - at Pretoria News, the National Press Club and on a personal level. She pushed me to pursue science journalism and to work in the diplomatic sector in Pretoria. Val is the reason I have a career today. I will be forever grateful for the knowledge and wisdom she imparted. I'm sure all the young journos who worked with her feel the same.

“The world has lost an excellent journalist, editor, leader and mentor.

“The South African media has lost one of its best. I am proud to have known her.

“My heart goes out to Roy, Christine, and John, as well as Val's parents, extended family, colleagues and friends. Go well, my friend.

Antoinette Slabbert, friend and co Exo member of the Press Club said: “I have known Val as an active member of the National Press Club over many years and was elected chair about two years ago.

“She held this position at the time of her passing.

“I knew her as a leading member of the National Press Club over many years. She brought to the organisation a warm personality, no-nonsense approach, her vast experience and network of contacts. She was always prepared to assist in any initiative to build this industry that she loved and dedicated her life to.

“What a loss to her friends, family and industry. We will miss you dearly, Val! “

Di Low, long standing friend and Boje’s personal secretary while she was editor said: ”I met Val in the late 1970’s when she started at the Pretoria News, doing her internship. The staff all came to know each other’s families at the parties we had. We were more than just colleagues. Some of us even belonged to the same book club, which were held at each other’s homes each month.

“I was the editor’s PA while Val was the assistant editor. When she became editor, it was like spending the day with a friend. This was only until she received important visitors - then she was THE EDITOR.

“When I retired in 2016 my retirement party was held in her garden. It was a party for friends and family - not just colleagues. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this difficult time.”

Tania Stapelberg, good friend and former colleague said: “It is hard to believe my friend has left us, Val was always on the go, wanting to try things, learn something new and go places, so full of life.

“We met when I joined the Pretoria News just before Christine was born. We sat in the back of the newsroom and were soon friends, I feel as though I had a bird’s eye view of John and Christine growing up, and what Greg was up too.

“Val had ambition and moved from being a reporter to a sub-editor and through the ranks to chief sub-editor, she was always interested in the latest technology and went to England to research the latest systems and share her knowledge with the Independent group.

“Having been a staffer on the Pretoria News since her student days at Rhodes, the newspaper and the City was very dear to her heart, so it was no surprise that she became editor. She would go out of her way to promote the City and its people. Val was a people person.

“Her family meant the world to her and she was proud of her parents and siblings. She adored her nieces and nephews and enjoyed spending time with them.

“She was so proud of her children and daughter-in-law and was over the moon when she became a grandmother.

“I have lost a dear friend, we had great times together. She has been a part of my daughter’s life from the day she came home, even keeping pencil crayons in her office so Ruby could colour in when she visited.

“I cant believe she wont be coming out of her gate with her huge smile to welcome me into her home, no more wine under the trees in summer.

“Val was special, she touched many lives and will live on in the great memories we have.”

Zelda Venter, friend and colleague said: “Val will always be remembered for how she engaged with the people around her. She was always interested in everyone and everything.

“I have always admired her ability to engage in conversation with everyone when we attended functions together. And everyone knew her.

“I met Val long before I started at the Pretoria News in 1997. But I really got to know her once I worked with her. She was a sub at the time and later became my editor.

“I remember the day well when it was announced that she would become editor. It was smiles all around. We were not only happy for her, but we counted ourselves lucky to have such a veteran at the helm.

“Val knew news - not only from a subbing point of view. She was a true newspaper person. She knew exactly what the angle to a story should be. And she knew how to write well.

“She had a soft side and always cared about her reporters' well being. It was very important to Val that the newsroom should be a happy place.

“We shared many laughs, and many a glass of red wine.

“But most of all, Val loved her family with a passion. She always spoke about her children, and how fortunate she was to still have both her parents, whom she greatly admired.

“RIP my friend. The world is poorer without you.”

Yusuf Abramjee said: “ Val’s passing is the most devastating news I heard in a long time. Val was not only a true friend and colleague, but somebody I got to know over many years as somebody very professional, efficient, hard working and very passionate, not only about the Pretoria News but about the journalism fraternity.

“I remember Val as a young journalist when I started my career. We often got together for lunch on a regular basis when she was the editor. When I headed up the Lead SA project, we had a partnership between Primedia and Independent Group. We virtually spoke every day or second day. The news of her passing has come as a massive shock to me and I know the entire media industry.

“Our deepest prayers and sympathy to her family and colleagues at the Pretoria News. She was well loved by everyone. Both in and outside the media industry. We are heartbroken and devastated.”

Graeme Hosken, friend and former colleague said: “ Val was one of the most kindest, caring and welcoming people I know. From the first day I walked into the office at the Pretoria News to after I had left, her doorways were always open.

“Val was never too busy. She always made sure she had time for a coffee and catch-up. She would always ask about my family and tell me that I was welcome back any time, and that my desk was still there, waiting for me.

“The catch-ups would always include the latest details about two of her loves - the City and the newspaper - the Pretoria News.

“I am going to miss our chats, your kindness and encouragement. Thank you for the laughs , the good times and helping to teach this ”buitelander“ the ins and outs of the City.”

Former colleague and friend, Madgdel du Preez said: “ Val was my mentor. When I arrived at the Pretoria News in 2004, I knew nothing about sub-editing at a newspaper. She was the executive editor at the time, and between her and sub Fay Malherbe, they made me into the sub-editor I am today. Nobody loved the Pretoria News more than Val. The paper was her pride and her passion, and she devoted her life to it.

“She cared about good journalism, she cared about accuracy and words. She lived those values, and she imparted them to those who were lucky enough to work with her, like me. Her death is a massive loss to journalism in South Africa. Rest in peace, Val. I’ll miss you.”

Colleague and friend, John Topping said: - “I am stunned and filled with grief.

I received the message in the morning that the former editor of the Pretoria News Valerie Boje had died.

She was due to have or had had heart surgery. There is no way of expressing the loss I personally feel along with that of her host of colleagues, both in the diplomatic corps and as head of the Pretoria News Press Club.

“You only get one chance in life to have as close a working relationship with someone as Val and I did for so many decades. Simply put, she was respected for her advice, kindness, generosity and leadership and was always willing to listen to you in her office and deal with problems that inevitably would come up with the complex production of a newspaper.

“I say with all honesty that that phone call constituted the greatest shock of my life because although I knew she had been unwell, her death at the relatively young age of 62 has left a void at the Pretoria News and in her very close family that cannot be filled. It is my sad duty to wish all condolences to Roy, Christine, John and her very respected parents.

“It is virtually impossible to explain her dedication to her calling and she was well respected for that...She followed a story to the end and it had to be perfect. She and I dealt closely on that score.

“She and I worked very closely at the Pretoria News for nigh on 40 years and that is a virtual lifetime. You develop a special relationship during such a long and close time together and the passing of Valerie Boje leaves a huge gap at Independent Newspapers.

“I remember several years ago when I spent two months staying with the Devenishes. They were welcoming, hospitable and enormously generous and made sure I felt at home. I trust Val will feel the same in God's hands.

RIP Valerie. God always be with you.”

Pretoria News

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