Former acting principal at Duneside Primary School, Celine Meyer, 54, from Ottery, was “caring, excellent and served others without complaint”.
This is how she was remembered after succumbing to Covid-19 pneumonia on Saturday January 9. Her funeral took the form of a drive-by service at Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church, Lansdowne.
Ms Meyer had worked at Duneside Primary School in Westridge for 31 years. She had started as a foundation phase teacher at the school in 1988 before being appointed deputy principal in 2016 and in 2019 she took on the role of acting principal.
Her husband, Clement Meyer, said he had been with her at Gatesville Hospital as he had also tested positive for Covid-19.
Her daughter also had Covid-19 and Ms Meyer’s mother, Carol Schmidt, who was admitted to hospital on Sunday January 10 could not attend Ms Meyer’s funeral.
“It was a blessing in disguise to be by her side throughout her hospital stay. It was also traumatic seeing how Covid-19 was affecting her,” said Mr Meyer.
However, he added, she was resilient.
When Ms Meyer found out she had the virus, she insisted that they buy vitamins so everyone else was treated. She went for a test on Saturday December 26, and was admitted to the hospital on December 31.
“In every crisis or celebration, my wife knew what to do. She was excellent in planning events and making sure the event happens as planned. She loved doing this, she was very good at this. She’d usually cook up a storm on a Sunday, as if it were Christmas every Sunday,” he said.
“I will miss her very much, she will continue to live on in our hearts and those she’s crossed paths with,” he said.
Acting principal of Duneside Primary School, Patrick Zimry, said Ms Meyer had been a people’s person while maintaining her professionalism.
“We will never forget her love for organising an event. It was her forte. She was always successful in it. She was a people’s person, you could go to her for any advice. I’ve known her for 22 years, we were not only colleagues but friends. This school will really miss her,” said Mr Zimry.
A close friend and former colleague, Wilma Williams, said Ms Meyer had been a born leader and educator. Ms Williams had started teaching at Duneside in 1986 – two years before Ms Meyer – and they had taught together in the foundation phase.
“She was one of the stalwarts at Duneside Primary, very intelligent and strong,” she said.
She held school close to her heart, “we become part of the school’s culture,” she said. They remained very good friends, when Ms Williams went to teach at another school.
A friend and principal at Golden Grove Primary in Rondebosch, Dawn Petersen described Ms Meyer as more of a sister than a friend.
Their group of friends travelled to London, Amsterdam and Paris and they would regularly give one another gifts, she said. The last gift she bought her friends was a key ring, reading friends forever.
“Little did we know it would be her last one,” said Ms Petersen.
“It’s difficult to put in words, but there is a void in my life. We will miss her dearly. I am blessed to have known her,” said Ms Petersen.
Her sisters, Chantal Jacobs and Nicola Schmidt said Ms Meyer had been an “amazing” sister.
“Teaching was a calling not just her profession. The school helped her achieve dreams of studying, opportunity to grow and to connect with all levels of people. She had a big heart and I’m sure touched the lives of many people,” said Ms Jacobs.
“She was so excited about the prospect of becoming the principal of the school in 2021. She wanted to build on the reputation of the school, providing a solid foundation for all children to grow despite the many social challenges they faced. I hope the school continues her legacy and remembers all her lessons in and out the classroom,” she added.
“We admired her for her tenacity and embracing life fully. I remember watching her study tirelessly with her friends during her years at Hewitt College to become the teacher she always wanted to be, ending up at Duneside Primary.
“We will miss her laughter, her easy-going outlook on life and her ability to diffuse troubled waters with such ease, her fun side, the way she organised everything so diligently and the endless love she gave to us all. Most of all, we will miss having her by our side. Her family was everything to her. Her love knew no boundaries and touched us all deeply,” said Ms Schmidt.