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Home » Johannes Cornelius Jacobus Coetzee: 2 October 1942 – 16 January 2023

Johannes Cornelius Jacobus Coetzee: 2 October 1942 – 16 January 2023

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Johannes Coetzee in the middle.
Johannes Coetzee in the middle. Image supplied

By John Ackermann

Sociable, caring, gentle and compassionate, were traits at the core of his character.

“God bless my Thermo Kings”, was a saying which personified his enthusiasm and commitment to his vocation for at least 31 years of his life. Johann spent his childhood and schooling in Klerksdorp. At the age of 17 years, he matriculated at the Schoonspruit High School.

In 1960, his career started in Johannesburg at Air Liquide, a supplier of industrial and speciality gasses and allied equipment. As marketing manager, Johann was transferred to Cape Town in 1969 and within weeks became a hearty Capetonian. One of his many clients in the Western Cape was Henred Fruehauf, a trailer manufacturer.

In 1974, Johann joined the sales team of Henred Fruehauf. With the aim to continue his career in the transport industry and remain in contact with many clients and friends, Johann joined the Thermo King division of Grenco (SA) in 1984. Johann was a people’s man and he forged strong bonds with many of his clients who became close friends across South Africa, Namibia and abroad. He attended many Thermo King international conferences in different countries and received awards for top sales in the international distributor network.

He excelled in socialising with his clients and friends on the golf course, at lunches and in his home. Until he developed health problems, Johann was a keen golfer. In 2007, Johann retired as the marketing director of the Thermo King division at GEA Africa and continued in a consulting capacity and to nurture relations with clients.

On occasions, his overprotective approach towards some of his clients whose trading was not in good standing, brought disfavour from his peers, but he persevered. During many of my travels with Johann — to visit clients, some who were poor of health, or to attend product launches, industry events and sadly to memorial services for clients or friends — I witnessed the esteemed regard that our community held of him. Besides his career, Johann was passionate about restoring old cars and doing all the required repairs to his own vehicles. At times, he needed parts to be specially made or he managed to locate the spares among his international network of contacts.

His compassion and caring for animals and pets were further attributes of his gentle nature. He couldn’t tolerate seeing any dog, cat or bird being ill-treated or going hungry.

Sadly in 2020, Johann was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, which impacted on his entire health and yet he tried to continue with all his daily activities. He also had a bad fall, which meant hospitalisation for several weeks.

During his convalescence after his fall, he was determined to celebrate his 80th birthday and this he did in lavish style with many friends at his home on 1 October 2022. In the last few weeks of his life, he suffered dearly, but fulfilled his wish of passing away peacefully at home.

Our condolences to his wife Erica, whom he loved and adored dearly, to his children Amanda, Eric, Christelle, Joanne, Bianca and his grandchildren Anika, Kara and Jason. Also, to his very close buddy and friend, Pete Blanckenberg, whom he met when he moved to Cape Town.

Johann, you were more than a friend. You cared to listen when times were tough and you brought laughter, even in the darkest of times. You were a good man and your footsteps on the shoreline of our terrestrial journey will remain forever, as the tide ebbs and flows.

Rest in peace my friend.

John Ackermann