MOSSEL BAY NEWS - Remember Penny Coelen - Miss South Africa and Miss World in 1958?
Well, her second princess in the Miss SA pageant that year, Debbie du Toit, who had the married surname, Burger, lived in Reebok and passed away on Thursday, 6 February.
Debbie (Adolina Fransina) also won the South African national Miss Vespa title in her heyday. Penny Coelen Rey turns 80 in April this year.
At the age of 81 when she passed away last week, Debbie was still active and healthy and enjoying life to the full. She had lived in the same house in Reebok for 20 years.
Her son, Roelof Burger, told the Mossel Bay Advertiser this week: "She was a very special lady, very feisty. She told us she would walk into the sea if we tried to move her out of her house.
"She passed away on Thursday morning, 6 February, in her sleep, so it was natural causes.
"On the Tuesday evening before that, there was a small party for her partner, Steve Venter. There was footage of her dancing with Steve on the dance floor. It was his 86th birthday.
"My mom was very good for a lady of 81."
When asked if he has any photographs of Debbie from the Miss SA pageant of 1958, Roelof says with a chuckle: "No, my mom said all she got from the pageant was a razor."
Roelof says she was in good health and walked every day. "She took every opportunity to do fun things."
A member of a hiking club told the Mossel Bay Advertiser how Debbie had gone on a getaway weekend with the club to Sutherland in the Northern Cape to do some stargazing when she was 80 years old.
Roelof, aged 44, is the youngest of Debbie's three children. He has two sisters.
"My mom was 39 when she had me and my oldest sister is four years older than me," Roelof says. Debbie grew up in the Free State. "She had quite a few friends who went to school with her in Bloemfontein who also lived in the Southern Cape."
Debbie attended Sentraal High School. Her husband passed away in the 2000s. Roelof said his mom did not do any modelling or pageant work after 1958. She was studying at that time and qualified as a physiotherapist, working in that profession for a number of years.
For a while her occupation was a farmer's wife in Hopetown in the Northern Cape.
Roelof said Debbie "enjoyed the simple things in life to the extreme, such as every little bird, gardening and food".
He said she could enjoy watching a bird for hours. "She had an extreme affinity with nature. Her garden was everything to her. She got depressed during a drought."
Debbie also had a passion for travel and classical music. "She was a member of all the groups in the Reebok area who enjoyed music and gardening."
She met her partner, Steve, about eight years ago and they travelled together, seeing much of the world. "She paraglided last year in Mauritius," Roelof said.
A service to celebrate Debbie's life is being held on Friday 14 February, at 12:00 at the Diaz Strand Hotel in Mossel Bay.
"This is the same venue where we celebrated my mom's 80th birthday party."
Roelof said: "Her partner, Steve, is very important. He completed the last fairytale chapter of her life."
Steve told the Mossel Bay Advertiser: "She was the most beautiful, vibrant, bubbly person for an 81-year-old ever. I cannot think of anyone else at that age who lived life to the full, like her. She will be dearly missed. We literally travelled the whole world together and she was dearly loved wherever we went," Steve said.
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