‘Uncle Bryan’ loses battle to cancer

Bryan Allan Maree

A pillar of strength to his colleagues and his family, Bryan Allan Maree, from Rocklands, will be remembered for his dry sense of humour, as well as his firm and caring nature.

Mr Maree, 59, died at home in his wife Claudine’s arms on Wednesday June 3.

About a month ago he was diagnosed with stage four cancer, which had spread to his brain.

He had been in and out of Melomed Mitchell’s Plain hospital during the national Covid-19 lockdown, which resulted in his family battling to visit him.

Mr Maree is survived by his wife, their three daughters, Lynn Maree, Melissa Dalton and Cherrie Maree, son Bryan Maree and seven grandchildren.

They were married for 36 years.

His eldest daughter Lynn, who took him into hospital on Wednesday May 6, when he had his first stroke, said the cancer diagnosis “broke my daddy”.

“He called my mother and said ‘I am so sorry’ because he had promised that he would always be there for her.”

She recalled he had a dry sense of humour and was very funny.

“Daddy was very much the life of the family. He could speak to anyone and everyone. He was this jolly person, never complaining and always had a smile on his face, opening his heart to anyone,” she said.

His younger daughter, Ms Dalton said: “He was our protector. He was our everything. He made our decisions for us.

“I don’t know how we are going to live without my daddy,” she said.

Mr Maree and his wife had been inseparable since his retirement two years ago as a marketing employee of Independent Media, which publishes the Plainsman.

He had been a permanent member of staff for 42 years. Before that he used to do casual work as a teenager.

Sandy Naude, chief executive officer of Africa Community Media, a division of Independent, said “Uncle Bryan”, as many referred to him, never refused any requests.

“As many of his former colleagues will recall this often led to Bryan being ‘net ommie draai’ when he was sometimes two hours away,” she recalled.

“He played a very big role in ensuring that our brands were represented at all major functions supported by the company.

“In particular, he received a special mention as well as a service award from the organisers of the Cape Town Cycle Tour for the role that he played since the start of the Cycle Tour in 1978.”

Ms Naude said his legendary kindness to all would always be remembered as well as his willingness to train his younger colleagues who would recall his dedicated mentorship.

She said his family was the most important part of his life and “our condolences are extended to his wife Claudine and all his family”.

Di Mac Mahon, Independent Media events co-ordinator, called him Bryanee Pooh.

“He was such a fighter. When I asked after his health he always said: ‘No, I’m ok Dizey’, always.”

She met him in April 1988 when she was a secretary in the general manager’s office.

Jane Paterson, the promotions manager at the time, and Mr Maree, were “the” promotions department.

They were also situated on the fifth floor near management and Ms Mac Mahon found herself more often than not sneaking into Ms Paterson’s office to help and decided that this was where she wanted to work.

After her transfer, they worked on many projects together – the then Argus Pick * Pay Cycle Tour and the Cape Times Discovery Big Walk were probably their biggest achievements for such a small team.

“The department went through several structural changes but Bryan and I stuck together through it all,” she said.

Beryl Eichenberger joined the team in 1991 after Ms Paterson left for New York.

“I also remember all the shopping centre promotions we did together – the Plainsman Voice Search for I don’t know how many years with the esteemed Mark Kleinschmidt as master of ceremonies. The walkathons we ran for each of the community newspapers, all the talent competitions for all the shopping centres, the Christmas parties for the disadvantaged – too many to mention.

“Bryan followed me throughout my career in promotions and marketing just being the stalwart supporter, Mr Dependable, Mr No Problem (the impossible I do right away, miracles take a little longer) guy.”

Ms Mac Mahon said both her children Sarah, 26, and Christopher, 18, remember Mr Maree fondly.

“I will always admire the intense love he had for Claudine, his wife. He was always so proud of his family. I will always remember that about him. And when I got mad about something Bryan would be my ‘calm. He would always say ‘moenie worry nie Dizey, alles sal regkom’,” she said.

In 2017 Mr Maree and Ms Mac Mahon received certificates being “Legends of the Tour” and being part of the Cape Argus Pick * Pay Cycle Tour for more than 30 years between the two of them.

“My fondest memories of the tour were the refreshment station we ran at Partridge Point for many years – receiving awards for this station – really special times indeed.

“Bryan was there with me, no matter what time of the morning – 2am or 3am – as with all promotions he was involved with – early mornings was a necessity,” she said.

She fondly recalled the smells coming from the microwave in their department kitchen.

Bryan loved his food and he was always warming up a meal which did not agree with the rest of the department.

“We used to freak out and tease the hell out of him. It was either fishy or very spicy curry. But we would always have a good laugh.

“Honestly – all I can say is that if everyone had the love that Bryan had for his wife and family there would be no drama in the world.

“He put them first, always. He loved them and his friends and colleagues unconditionally and I will always remember that – good lessons learned,” said Ms Mac Mahon.

Ms Paterson, who now lives in New York, said with a ready smile and warm, easy-going nature, Bryan was one of those people who drew others to him. “I had the pleasure of working with him for many years when I headed up the promotions department at The Argus.

“He was a valued team member who always went above and beyond, often taking on the arduous physical tasks associated with big-event promotions, always without complaints.

“But looking back over the years, the thing I remember about Bryan was his brilliant sense of humour; his observations, comments, and quips never missed the mark and always brought laughter to our office,” she said.

Former marketing manager Michael Vale, who now lives in New Zealand, said Mr Maree was a true gentleman.

“What amazed me about him was never saying it couldn’t be done. He simply took the tasks and requests we threw at him and told us not to worry and he would make it happen. And he did.”