Remembering a stalwart BKM member

Anyone who has been involved with crime-fighting in the Constantia Valley will probably have had dealings with Cecil Peter Watts over the years.

Mr Watts died peacefully on Saturday February 27, in the evening, with his family at his bedside, after a long illness with cancer.

His daughters spoke with pride of their father as they gave their personal tributes at his funeral on Thursday March 3, at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Meadowridge, where he had been a member for many years and served on the management board and as an elder.

His wife Mary spoke of Mr Watts’ past, saying he was a post-war baby, born on November 11, 1944 to Cecil and Peggy Watts.

He was named after his father and was known as young Cecil even into his late 20s. His dad had been up north during the war and his mother and sister, Margie Schluter, had remained in Cape Town.

The family lived in Fresnaye where Cecil attended Ellerton Kindergarten and went on to Christian Brothers College in Green Point where he matriculated.

While at school he enjoyed cadets, the discipline and precision of marching, and was chosen to lead a huge parade of cadets at the Green Point stadium when he was in matric.

His favourite was marching to the bagpipes. His mother, having been born in Scotland, had great hopes of her son playing the bagpipes but that was not his aim, and instead he wanted to be right at the front leading the whole group. These skills in marching techniques resulted in him many years later coaching drum majorettes at Bergvliet High School.

Mr Watts always loved the sea and had visions of joining the merchant navy after school, but eventually went to UCT where he studied quantity surveying. This did not suit him as he preferred action and variety as opposed to being desk-bound.

Four years later he persuaded his father to let him join Nellies Motors, the panel beating and spray painting business his father had acquired in Victoria Road, Southfield.

He spent 16 years there before moving to Baltimore Aircoil in Philippi and later to Henred Fruehauf and Trencor in Montagu Gardens, working in production and procurement.

While in business he served as chair of the fledgling Panelbeaters Association and also of the Phillippi and the Montagu Gardens Industrialists Associations.

After school he had joined the Commandos and was based with Lion’s Head Commando at Fort Wynyard. He moved up the ranks and eventually became OC of the unit. While at Lion’s Head he was sent to the Angolan border and served three months in the Caprivi. His last transfer was to Wyn- berg Commando as Commandant. He retired from the Commandos having received a long service medal.

When the Trencor factory closed, Cecil determined to work from home and start a small agency business. At this time Bergvliet Kreupelbosch Meadowridge (BKM) Neighbourhood Watch was in its infancy and he soon became involved.

Mr Watts also served on the community police forum (CPF) and served as chair even when he slipped two discs in his back and had to hold meetings from his bed at home.

His knowledge from his army days was a great help in this work and he enjoyed the challenge of strategic planning, training and patrolling. During this time he also became a member of the MOTHS and enjoyed the camaraderie of the shell hole in Bergvliet.

Mr Watts married Mary Trangmar in 1972, and designed the house in which they live. He enjoyed camping and hi- king with family, friends and extended family.

After 12 years of happy marriage, Cecil and Mary were blessed with Susan. No little girl was more photographed by a proud dad than this one. Helen arrived six-years later to complete the family.

Boating and fishing had replaced hiking and camping and the family spent many wonderful holidays at Witsands on the Breede River.

At Witsands, Mr Watts be-came involved in the Barry Memorial Church, organising the annual carol services, assisting in the Christmas services for many years and even stepping in to take the Christmas service when the minister had a bicycle accident.

He was very supportive of his two daughters, extremely proud of their achievements and encouraged them in all that they did. His brag book was always with him, sometimes much to their embarrassment.

Mr Watts’ diagnosis with prostate cancer in December 2013 was a terrible shock. Despite regular checks, the cancer was aggressive and had already spread to his hip bones when the treatment started. He remained positive that he could conquer the disease and persisted in looking at the glass half-full. In this he encouraged many others with similar diagnoses.

For nearly two years he enjoyed fairly good health continuing his involvement with BKM until he and Mary decided to go off travelling while he was physically strong. Their last trip involved driving 6 500km across the country from one national park to another, the majority with him driving. He was a keen amateur photographer and accumulated a wonderful wild-life portfolio from his travels.

At his bedside his brother-in-law, Pat Schluter, prayed for Mr Watts and the family. In the words of a favourite song of his:

I’m going up a yonder to be with my Lord.

There’s comfort in knowing I’ll soon be home,

If God gives me grace, I’ll run this race

and soon I’ll see my Saviour face to face.

BKM neighbourhood watch representatives offered their heartfelt sympathy. “Cecil was a stalwart BKM member and an avid patroller.

“He was the Doordrift zone manager for many years and certainly made a difference within the community. He was instrumental in the foundation of the Constantia Valley Information Centre and BKM operations. He was the previous chairperson of Diep River CPF and will be sorely missed within the BKM community.

“Rest in peace Cecil, you are a very special man, we will miss you,” said BKM co-founder, Tony Schreiber.