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Issue 0572002-09-22 Category: Inspirational Java version:

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A Tribute to my Dad, Hans Rudolf Kabutz

by Dr. Heinz M. Kabutz

Welcome to the 57th edition of The Java(tm) Specialists' Newsletter sent to 4686 Java Specialists in 86 countries.

This is not one of my usual newsletters, i.e. you won't find anything about Java in here. However, the content of what I am about to say has everything to do with the birth and existence of The Java(tm) Specialists' Newsletter.

On the morning of Wednesday the 18th of September 2002, my greatest inspirator passed away suddenly at the age of 64 from heart failure. No one will ever know what my father meant to me. He was constantly sending me emails, phoning me, encouraging me to try new ideas, to publish these newsletters, to go where others did not dare to go. If it were not for him, I would not even have started writing these newsletters. I certainly would not have published more than 50 in the period of two years and reached 86 countries without his constant support.

Whenever a new country appeared on my list (latest is the Democratic Republic of Congo), I would phone my dad to tell him, and he would laugh and say: "Mach weiter so mein Sohn" (Keep on going, my son). It was my dad who first noticed the newsletters that Peter Carruthers was writing, and forwarded them to me. Peter's newsletters became the basis on which I have worked for this newsletter. That is why I can say that if it were not for my father, The Java(tm) Specialists' Newsletter would never have been started.

I remember telling him when I reached the 400 subscriber mark, and him laughing and being so happy. When I told him that I was going to Mauritius to present courses there, he laughed and laughed.

I would not have pushed through and gotten my PhD in Computer Science without his help. The fact that my father had produced a "doctor" was a constant source of amusement for him. "Mein kleiner Heinz", he would say. Every facet of my life has been influenced and moulded by my father. Even going to university was almost entirely his fault. He wanted me to study accounting, but when I refused and said I wanted to do Computer Science instead, he accepted it and supported me all the way.

My father was a giant of a man, about 1.94m tall, quite intimidating. The person that he looked like most was Bud Spencer, just not quite as covered. He used his size and presence to get his way with people. However, inside, my father was very sensitive, very caring, always helpful. As I spent last Wednesday phoning his old friends and telling them the sad news, they would relate to me stories of how my dad had helped them when their car broke down in the middle of the night, or how he had given them sound business advice in a tough financial situation. If ever you had a problem, all you had to do was phone Hans, and he would come and help you. It did not matter when or what.

During my childhood, my father worked constantly, twelve hours a day at his factory, and then several hours doing administration at home. We hardly saw him due to his heavy schedule. My teenage years were extremely tense. My father was unbelievably stubborn. Almost as stubborn as me. On top of that, I cannot tell a lie. The combination of stubbornness and honesty meant that instead of sneaking out, I would tell my father when I was going out, and we would have a big dogfight about when I would be back and where I was going. Once we had such a big confrontation that he locked the PCs keyboard away for about two weeks. After a while his machine stopped working (guess why ;-) and the keyboard reappeared. I think of all the children (I have two brothers and one sister), I was the most punished. It didn't help. I am still as stubborn as I have always been ;-)

During the last few years of my father's life we became really close. He would share information about his business with me that no one else in the world knew about, not even my mother. I would tell him the minutest details of what I was doing and he would laugh and give me even better ideas of all I could do. In May this year, I phoned my dad to speak to him and he had just been to his doctor with Arrhythmia (an abnormal heartbeat rhythm). He told me in a weak voice "I am getting old" and then the phone went dead. I had a terrible shock, but it was just his battery that had run out of juice. Shortly after that, we had a family meeting to discuss what we would have to do in the (unlikely) event of his death. We all agreed that my father would still live for another twenty years, but nevertheless it would be good to be prepared.

My father believed in laughter, but not in death. He was never scared of dying, because he had a strong relationship with Jesus. He has been faithfully serving in his church the Stadtmission Kapstadt, for the last 26 years. For the last few years he has been the chief elder at the church. He is so much part of that church that they cannot even imagine what it will be like without him. It was my father's inspiration that caused our whole family to believe in Jesus. He would be very cross if he were to see me mourning for him - he would tell me to "not be ridiculous" since he is in a better place now. He would probably make a joke about "I can see all the way to Malmesbury from up here". To my father, death was just part of life. He would bellow a laugh "Ha Ha Ha" about anything.

I want to thank my father for not leaving us in the lurch when times were really difficult. One time on Christmas Eve, the Sheriff of the Court came to our house to start confiscating our property due to my father's indebtedness. My father parked his Combi around the block and walked home when he saw the Sheriff's car outside. Then boxes and boxes of fruit and vegetables arrived at our house from an anonymous donour at my parent's church. When we were kids, money was always tight, even though we lived in a magnificent home in one of the most exclusive suburbs of Cape Town. One thing I learnt from that is that people who live in fancy houses do not necessarily have a lot of spending money, infact it is usually the opposite.

Most of my holidays were spent slaving away in my father's drinking straw factory (someone has to make them). For many years, my father rented the most shabby facilities in Woodstock (a really crummy area of Cape Town, full of factories and drug dealers). Once we arrived in the morning to discover a vagrant lying outside, stabbed to death. After about twenty years in Woodstock, my father built a new factory building in a new industrial development.

My father used to joke that you can neither live nor die from making such a petty consumable. I went on three business trips with my dad when I was a teenager, driving all around the country trying to get more business. It was always interesting watching my father relate to his customers. My father also used to joke that his business is "clutching at straws", until he became the best straw manufacturer in Africa, then his phrase became "clutching at straws is my business". He managed to build up his entire business without ever bribing anybody, which in Africa is quite an achievement.

I will always fondly remember my father, Hans Rudolf Kabutz, who always ended his long, loborious, detailed-to-the-point emails with: "Liebe Gruesse sendet Vater HansR". He was a fantastic husband to my mother Sigrun Ingeborg Kabutz nee Kuhlmann, and the best father ever to Rudolf Thomas Kabutz, Marten Herbert Kabutz, Bettina Sigrun Kabutz and me, Heinz Max Kabutz. His three daughters-in-law Helene Kabutz (my wife) nee Kytides, Karin Kabutz nee Ebrecht and Alex Kabutz nee Glatz, and his six grandchildren Maximilian, Constance, Heiko, Thomas, Meike and Kyra. We will all miss you terribly.

To the most eccentric man, who stubbornly insisted all his life that he would not get much older than 62, and who stubbornly went to the Lord "according to plan": We love you and we will sorely miss you.

Heinz

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