Sto­ries of pi­o­neer girls go­ing West

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OBITUARIES - HARRISON SMITH

KATH­LEEN Karr, an award­win­ning chil­dren’s writer who sailed the Nile, learned to box and en­sconced her­self in li­brary ar­chives to re­search hu­mor­ous, fre­quently sus­pense­ful nov­els about pi­o­neer girls head­ing West, “turkey­pokes” herd­ing poul­try, a grave-rob­bing phre­nol­o­gist and – told from a camel’s point of view

– an Army ex­per­i­ment in the West Texas desert, died on De­cem­ber 6 in Chicago. She was 71.

The cause was com­pli­ca­tions from mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, said her daugh­ter, Suzanne Karr Sch­midt.

In a life that took her from a

New Jer­sey chicken farm to the makeshift ring of Fin­ley’s Gym, a land­mark of the Washington box­ing scene, Karr re­sem­bled the in­de­pen­dent-minded boys and girls who pop­u­lated her two dozen books for young adults.

She be­gan writ­ing on what she later called a “dare” from her hus­band, craft­ing a string of gen­tle adult ro­mances be­gin­ning with the 1984 novel Light of My Heart. Un­like what she called the “bodice rip­pers” that dom­i­nated the mar­ket, the books were fo­cused less on sex than on heart­felt con­nec­tions, paving the way for her tran­si­tion to an equally whole­some genre: chil­dren’s his­tor­i­cal fic­tion.

Her writ­ing was drawn partly from child­hood mem­o­ries as well as her pro­fes­sional life as a film GER­ALD Morkel, for­mer Western Cape pre­mier and Cape Town mayor, has died. He was 76.

He died at his Tokai home on Tues­day af­ter­noon. In 2014 he was di­ag­nosed with can­cer of the ab­domen.

Close friend and fam­ily spokesper­son Garin Ca­vanagh re­mem­bers Morkel as a “gen­tle­man politi­cian” and a dot­ing hus­band.

“He had a very good re­la­tion­ship with his wife Hazel and they were al­ways very close,” he said.

Morkel mar­ried Hazel Richards on Septem­ber 3, 1960.

“He en­tered pol­i­tics at a very young age, but it wasn’t re­ally a call­ing be­cause he had a con­struc­tion busi­ness… He got in­vited to a po­lit­i­cal meet­ing and he went out of cu­rios­ity, then some­one nom­i­nated him to a po­si­tion. He ac­cepted the chal­lenge and de­cided to do his best,” said Ca­vanagh.

Morkel was elected to the coloureds-only House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the Tri­cam­eral Par­lia­ment in 1984 as a mem­ber of the Labour Party. In 1994, he joined the Na­tional Party and be­came Western Cape leader of the re­named New Na­tional Party in 1998. When Her­nus Kriel de­cided to step down as pre­mier, Morkel took the top job.

Ca­vanagh said Morkel was highly ac­ces­si­ble in his po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions. “He wasn’t shy and so he was al­ways open and will­ing to as­sist peo­ple.”

He re­signed in 2001 and be­came a mem­ber of the DA. He was elected mayor of Cape Town in Novem­ber 2001 but, less than a year later, the DA lost con­trol of the city to an ANC-NNP coali­tion af­ter a floor cross­ing in Oc­to­ber 2002.

He re­mained as the Western

Cape leader of the DA be­fore step­ping down be­cause of his ties to Ger­man bil­lion­aire Jur­gen Hark­sen, who faced charges of tax eva­sion and fraud in Ger­many.

Morkel con­tin­ued to serve in the Cape Town city coun­cil un­til his re­tire­ment in 2011.

A memo­rial ser­vice will be held for Morkel at the Grassy Park Bap­tist Church on Tues­day at 7pm.

Cik­izwa Tiny Ma­tole

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