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Gert Schoonbee


06.02.1929 - 11.11.2011
Mr GS Schoonbeewas born on the 6th of February 1929, in Middelburg, Transvaal.  He matriculated in 1948 from the Erasmus Hoërskool in Bronkhorstspruit and continued his education at the University of Pretoria, studing BSc Agric and started farming on completion of his studies.
During these early years he identified the shortcomings of the farmers in the area preventing them from prospering and he subsequently started organizing the farmers into study groups.  He became the chairman of the District Agricultural Union of Groblersdal and later also of Marble Hall.

Over a period of 40 years he carried the interests of his fellow farmers at heart on various Agricultural Boards & Councils:
- He served as member and chairman on the boards of various co-operatives and distributors: OTK, MKTV, SASKO, Maicecor, Sensako.
- On the following Agricultural Councils, as member and chairman:  Tobacco Council, Sentrabank, the Grain- and Cotton Council.
- On various Provincial- and National Agricultural Committees and acts as chairman, amongst others, the Cotton-, Winter Grain- and Tobacco Committees.

He received Honourable Mention and recognition from the District Agricultural Unions of Groblersdal and Marble Hall as well as the Transvaal Agricultural Union.

Mr Schoonbee is characterised as an achiever and achieved outstanding success in every aspect or area he was involved in, to mention just a few of the outstanding achievements:

 

  • The Loskop Valley was unable to produce grain profitably in the fifties. He organised, with enthusiasm, study groups in Groblersdal and Marble Hall (where he acted simultaneously as the chairman of both District Agricultural Unions), and, with the cooperation of Dr Turpin the Loskop Valley became on of the most stable areas for producing grain in South Africa!
  • As chairman of both Agricultural Unions the government has been persuaded to extend the Loskop Dam wall in 1967 with 30 feet (approximately 9 m). He had the vision to foresee that the extension of the Dam wall would relieve the water needs of his descendants in the Loskop Valley.
  • Under his leadership the OTK developed into one of the largest co-operations in South Africa with a grain storage capacity of 2 million tons.
  • The investigation into new irrigation systems in the early seventies has reached a remarkable milestone when he obtained the import rights from Valley Pivots and imported the first 25 pivots.  The first pivot which has been imported to South Africa is still functioning on Schoonbee Landgoed.
  • Mr Schoonbee has always had the development of the local schools close at heart and  made contributions be it either towards cultural or sport development.  Book prizes were sponsored regularly for Hoërskool Ben Viljoen and CVO Gromar Hoërskool. The athletics track of Hoërskool Ben Viljoen has been drained and rebuilt in the seventies.
  • As member of the Dutch Reformed Church he has been an elder for years and carried the interests of the church close to his heart.
  • He was also awarded a lifelong honory membership at the local flying club due to his input during the construction of the local airfield and the development thereof.
  • The Table Grape Industry in the Loskop Valley started developing after his pioneering work in cultivation of table grapes in the northern areas. Many table grape producers have been encouraged with advice and assistance from Mr Schoonbee.  His vision had been made clear when he changed direction away from tobacco cultivation, although he had been a successful tobacco farmer, he realized that it was the end of the tobacco industry in the Loskop Valley and time to look for alternatives.
  • It was his lifelong mission to fight for the concerns and the upliftment of the Afrikaner.  Many residents in the area have been provided by well-considered advice and support. He has been a mentor for his children, grand children and many young Afrikaner farmers and businessmen.
  • It is also for this reason that he has been bestowed with a special charter from the ATKV in 2008 as recognition for his contribution the Afrikaner and the community over the years.