WELL-KNOWN lay preacher, Willie Gertze of the Methodist Church in Rehoboth died of a heart attack at the age of 69 on January 24.
Family members said Gertze had been in poor health for some time.
They described him as a man who considered his fellow human beings through the prism of compassion and tolerance, with a modest and straightforward world view. He was also known for his sharp wit and sense of humour.
"He left his mark with his easygoing nature and charm and enriched his life through extensive reading and his love of the fine arts and classical music," the family said.
Gertze was born on the farm !Eises in the Rehoboth district on March 22 1943, and was the son of Koppie and Helentjie Gertze.
He was related to the first teacher at Rehoboth, and since childhood showed a strong desire for knowledge and a sense of community service.
He was a lay preacher of the Methodist Church at Rehoboth for 45 years, a position he served in until his death. He was also a businessman, having owned the first furniture shop at the time.
Gertze was a member of the town's business chamber and served on a number of community committees, through which he was involved in a number of projects to empower the Rehoboth community.
Before his death, he was particularly interested in the establishment of an aquaculture project at the town, with the single-minded purpose to sensitise the community and in particular the youth to the value of the sustainable use of the environment.
"He was a friend of people of all cultures and social standing, and held repast with everyone who crossed his path. Every opportunity was a feast and he would give only the best to all who met him," his family said.
Gertze leaves behind his wife, Kathy, and children Desmond, Neville (the Namibian ambassador in Germany), Maurentia, and Maximillian. He has four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The family has invited all to join them at two memorial services at the Rehoboth Methodist Church on January 29 and 31.
Gertze will be buried at that church at 14h30 on Friday, February 1.