Family's 'protector' dies two days before 30th wedding anniversary

05 August 2020 - 13:28 By Iavan Pijoos
Susan and Cecil Norman Steenbok would have celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on Monday, but Cecil died of Covid-19 complications at the weekend.
Susan and Cecil Norman Steenbok would have celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on Monday, but Cecil died of Covid-19 complications at the weekend.
Image: Mark Steenbok

Cecil Norman Steenbok, from Bloemfontein, battled Covid-19 for 11 days in hospital, but two days before celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife, he lost the fight.

Susan and Cecil would have celebrated their anniversary on Monday, but he died of Covid-19 complications at the weekend.  

Steenbok, 62, died at Mediclinic in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

“He was my friend, companion, our hero, a silent warrior and great leader and mostly the one who protected us. He was a very good man. His death is a huge loss, to not only us but many,” Susan told TimesLIVE on Wednesday morning.

On July 19, Steenbok showed flu-like symptoms and initially the family thought it was just a cold, his son Mark said.

Mark said his father's condition deteriorated “very fast” and he later complained about body and chest pains.

The father of four was taken to Mediclinic on July 20 where he was placed on a ventilator.

Mark said on his arrival, his father was tested for Covid-19 and his tests came back positive a few hours later. He said his father contracted the virus through other family members. All showed improvement, except his father.

“Some of my family members who went for tests at public facilities unfortunately had to wait for more than a week to get their results.

“It all happened so quickly, so it came as a huge shock for the family, as my father stayed at home most of the time, so to see him get sick and deteriorate so fast, is still very unreal.”

“He fought a brave fight, but due to his age, sugar and blood levels, he passed on August 1. It all happened in the blink of an eye, one moment you are speaking to him on the phone and the next moment he is gone, so the virus is certainly something to be wary of,” Mark told TimesLIVE.

Mark and his father Cecil Norman Steenbok. For Mark the hardest thing to deal with was not being able to say goodbye to his father.
Mark and his father Cecil Norman Steenbok. For Mark the hardest thing to deal with was not being able to say goodbye to his father.
Image: Mark Steenbok

Mark, who works as a journalist in Cape Town, said he last chatted with his father, a grandfather of six, in February, when he visited his family in Bloemfontein.

But he went to Bloemfontein after hearing about his father’s condition.

“My mother and I were fortunate enough to see him in hospital on the Wednesday before his passing in hospital, when the staff called to say that his condition is deteriorating, but he was under sedation and on a ventilator, and in an enclosed space.”

For Mark the hardest thing to deal with was not being able to say goodbye to his father.

“You are not able to see your family when you are admitted so that is very tough. You don’t get to say a last word; you don’t get to interact, so it’s tough, very tough.

“He had a very infectious laugh; he was a real joker in his own way, but his stature, his huge presence, his advice, directions, and a caring word. He was a remarkable man and unfortunately I never got to have a last word with him, due to him being under sedation. He will be greatly missed.”

Cecil will be buried in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

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