Mov­ing send-off and trib­utes for ca­noeist Pope-El­lis

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA WATER­WORTH

TRIB­UTES poured in from across the world as the “Dusi King” and ca­noe­ing leg­end, Graeme Pope-El­lis, was laid to rest yes­ter­day.

Pope-El­lis died last Thurs­day in an ac­ci­dent on his farm in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg.

Close to 1 000 mourn­ers packed in­side and crowded round the Hil­ton Chapel at Hil­ton Col­lege, for the me­mo­rial ser­vice, where his fam­ily, friends and the ca­noe­ing fra- ter­nity paid trib­ute to the 62year-old ca­noe­ing cham­pion.

The mourn­ers in­cluded greats such as Os­car Chalup­sky, Ant Stott, Michael Ma­ban­jwa, Mark Per­row, John Ed­monds and Hank McGre­gor.

Pope-El­lis, fondly known as “The Pope” to those around him, took on the three-day Hansa Pow­er­ade Dusi for the first time in 1965, and dom­i­nated the race dur­ing the 70s and 80s.

He raced a record 46 Du­sis, which he won 15 times, as well as tak­ing first place in nu­mer­ous races as a vet­eran, mas­ter and grand mas­ter.

But it was his gen­eros­ity, courage and will­ing­ness to teach oth­ers that were most re­mem­bered.

His son Lee spoke about how Pope-El­lis had a gift to gen­er­ate con­fi­dence in oth­ers in or­der for them to suc­ceed.

“He made me be­lieve in my­self ev­ery step of the way.

“You are alive for me on the Dusi and on the sin­gle track, the high tide at Mazeppa Bay and in the for­est.”

Martin Dreyer, whose ca­noe­ing suc­cess was men­tored by Pope-El­lis, de­scribed him as “al­ways will­ing to give to the next guy, a fiery com­pet­i­tive spirit and a gen­tle­man.

“He saw ad­ver­sity as a vi­tal part of suc­cess and wel­comed it.”

His wife, Wendy, said a fi­nal farewell to the love of her life: “May the African sun shine on your face my dar­ling and may God hold you in the palm of His hand un­til we meet again.”

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