In Memory of a Fierce Man

This week I farewelled my father, Eugene Leeb-du Toit, after a tough fight with cancer.

In his honor I want to share my Eulogy with you:

My father had many endearing qualities but I want to focus on two:
first, he taught me to live large; and, secondly, to be fierce.
Dad loved the ocean and boats were a big part of his life.
He built his first boat, a run about, in Durban as a teenager.
I remember as an 8 year old helping him build a wood and fibreglass speed boat.
Admittedly, I spent more time coating myself in fibres than anything else.

And then there was his most ambitious boating project:
a large flatbed trailer and crane arrived outside our house
in a sleepy seaside suburb in East London and delivered the hull and keel of a 35 foot Miura-class yacht to our front lawn; it promptly became a giant jungle gym for Alan, Viv and I as well as the neighbourhood; Dad lovingly sourced teak railway sleepers and transformed them into a thing of beauty, wood panelling for the yacht’s interior.
We enjoyed many hours sailing her in the waters of the wild coast, a stretch of ocean as feared as Cape Horn for its ferocity.

It took a special kind of courage, a fierce nature, to tackle those waters and again, to tackle the waters of life.

Dad demonstrated this fierceness in his fights with cancer:
when my sister was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 6 he was there, fiercely compassionate in his support for her; when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer
he tackled it with a brave face and beat it down;
but it was that third time when it sneaked up on him
that he needed to muster all his strength and courage,
and he was fierce in his fight with it right up until his last moment.

Dad dedicated his life to animals and loved his profession as a vet. He told us that he never did anything to disrespect an animal and for him this was a blessing of his work.
He recognised that we are all part of the river of life when he recently said, “We belong to nature, and I respect the way nature works, and for me it is easy to be a part of nature‚Äôs system.”

Today we are here to celebrate a life well lived; a life lived large and with fierce compassion; and today we are here to commit Dad back into the river of life.
Dad, thank you for all you did for us and taught us.
We love you so much.

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