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Moorreesburg legend dies

The town of Moorreesburg recently bade farewell to one of its icons.

Ivan Katz, well-known restaurateur and former owner of the Samoa Hotel in the heart of Moorreesburg, died on Sunday 14 February, the day after his 69th birthday.

The well-loved Katz had been living in Bloubergstrand, Cape Town for the last 13 years and was owner of the popular Catch 22 restaurant. News of his death left many Moorreesburgers, who remember him fondly, saddened.

Attending both Laerskool Dirkie Uys and Hoërskool Dirkie Uys, Katz went on to study for a BCom degree at Stellenbosch University, and his first job as an investment consultant at Trust Bank.

When his father became ill he was called back to Moorreesburg to run the Samoa Hotel with his mother Pearl Katz. He married Janine, and the two are described as the perfect pair.

Friends and loyal patrons still reminisce about Katz’s famous Kingklip Louis fillet sauce served at De Kraal, the hotel’s restaurant as well as crumbed mushrooms and ice cream with a special hot chocolate sauce that contained raisins soaked in brandy.

Katz also stood out as a sharp dresser, always smartly turned out. Although stylish he never saw himself as being above anyone else, and with his down-to-earth personality and charisma treated everyone who came across his path with equal dignity and respect.

As an avid golfer deeply invested in his community he made many friends throughout the years.

Helena Jordaan says Katz was one of the founding members of the Moorreesburg Lions Club in October 1997.

“He shared the vision of a service to the community and diligently participated in the fundraisers,” she said.

Golf buddy and lifetime friend Fredi Linder also fondly remembers numerous golf trips and travels to the South Coast of Spain.

He first met friend Johan Loubser on a golf trip in the Overberg in the early ’70s, but it was only a few years later that the two became good friends when Loubser moved to Moorreesburg to start work at the “kooperasie” and started hanging out at the hotel’s bar which was the local hang-out spot.

The Katz family was famously referred to as the “Boere Jode”, one of several in the platteland at that time. They also owned the land that housed the Jewish orthodox synagogue in those years.

Alta Weil, whose husband was also one of the Boere Jode of Moorreesburg, recalled how she was always amused by Katz’s use of hand gestures when he spoke.

To everyone he was an extremely beloved jovial man.

His son, Jason, who resides in Australia was both head boy of the school and hostel in his matric year at Boys High in Paarl.

In a touching tribute to his father he wrote: “To the man that taught me the true meaning of work ethic and sacrifice, to the man that was never flash, nor lavish or extravagant, to the man who was often the hardest worker in every room he entered . . . You never missed a single rugby or cricket game, nor a rugby tour to Bloemfontein. Everything I did and achieved was to make you proud.

“You were the first one I wanted to call whenever I achieved anything noteworthy as you were reserved and meticulous with your praise, but when you were at your proudest, I could always sense the croak in your voice and a slight twinkle in your eye. I lived for those moments. Watching a Manchester United game will never be the same again without you here.

“Even though you hardly knew a player’s name, you would shout and scream and support with pride. Thank you for everything you did for us and always putting the family first through thick and thin.

“I hope I can continue to make you proud. I will love and miss you forever, until I take my last steps on this earth.”

Katz’s daughter Gabbi, who now runs the restaurant in Blouberg, wrote: “Thank you for imparting your love and knowledge of food and wine, you business ethics, your passion and heart for hospitality; values and ethics. Your sense of style, and possibly your wicked sense of humour as well.

“You treated every single person you came into contact with, with kindness, respect and a generous spirit, regardless of their station of status in life. You were a father-figure and mentor to many more than just your own children. The name Ivan Katz is always met with admiration, respect and a fond memory.”

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