Moving send-off and tributes for canoeist Pope-Ellis
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.”