Final farewell for retail giant Raymond Ackerman

Pick n Pay delivery trucks parked on both sides of the road just off Clovelly’s entrance leading the way to the Country Club on Monday September 11.

Family, friends and colleagues of Raymond Ackerman gathered at the Clovelly Country Club on Monday to pay their respects to the country’s retail giant.

Mr Ackerman died on Wednesday September 6. He was 92.

Pick n Pay delivery trucks lined both sides of the road just off Clovelly’s entrance leading the way to the Clovelly Country Club, Mr Ackerman’s favourite place, according to his youngest son, Jonathan.

Mr Ackerman was an honorary life president of the club, which was founded by his father, Gus, 92 years ago.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Mr Ackerman opened the club to all races making it the first non-racial club in the country.

In 2007, the Raymond Ackerman Golf Academy was founded after the Clovelly Country Club launched a golf and caddy development programme to encourage transformation in golf in 2003.

“My dad had three loves in his life, Clovelly, Pick n Pay, and family. I’m not sure in what order,” Jonathan said.

Those who paid tribute to Mr Ackerman described him as “humble, kind, and ahead of his time”.

Mr Ackerman founded Pick n Pay in 1967 with his wife, Wendy, after buying four stores in Cape Town.

Jonathan thanked those who sent messages of condolences and said of the “hundreds and thousands” of messages they received, there were four messages from former Springbok captains Tiaan Strauss, Francois Pienaar, John Smit, and Morné du Plessis.

“Speaking to Morné and Francois, I said, ‘You were my dad’s heroes,’ and they said to me, ‘No, no, John, he was our hero.’ All my dad ever wanted was to be a Springbok rugby player.”

Laughter erupted from the three marquees that hosted the guests on the driving range, where a temporary statue of Mr Ackerman swinging a golf club had been put up for the service.

“Dad, you were hugely missed last night as the whole family curled up on the couch and we watched the Springboks win,” said Jonathan, referring to the national team’s 18-3 Rugby World Cup victory over Scotland.

“That was our time together, watching the Springboks, sport, the Ryder Cup… with your children and grandchildren.”

Mr Ackerman’s eldest son, Gareth, described his father as an “exceptional retailer” and “a unique human being”.

“He was caring, interested, and made special time and space for each of us. His time was all the more precious because of all the other demands.”

He said his father was never afraid to challenge the government or to display leadership when his industry, city, or country needed it.

His father, he said, was famous for three values that would remain forever in the company ethos: the consumer is queen, business efficiency, and doing good is good business.

“We honour these values and promise Dad that they will remain core in all that we do,” Gareth said.

Pick n Pay non-executive director, Audrey Mothupi, recalled how she would always greet Mr Ackerman with “Hello, young man.”

“Raymond Ackerman was the kindest, humble, and most deeply caring human I have ever had the privilege of working with,” she said.

“I now have to say goodbye young man.”

Mr Ackerman’s eldest grandchild, Nicholas Ackerman, said: “Gramps showed me that true success is not measured in financial terms but the positive impact you have on others. This has never been more evident than with the thousands of messages we have received this week from all walks of life.”

Another grandchild, Gus Robins, described his grandfather as a “colossus” while granddaughter Nikita Montlake said her grandfather had called her his “cheekiest grandchild”, and she would never hesitate to remind him that she had learnt from the best.

The service concluded with the family reciting the Kaddish, a Jewish prayer of mourning.

Following the service, guests could hit golf balls in Mr Ackerman’s honour and enjoy some of his favourite treats: Coke, peanut butter and Chelsea buns.

Guests attending the memorial service of retail giant Raymond Ackerman.
From left are Gabriella Ackerman, Gus Robins, Wendy Ackerman, Samantha Ackerman, Natasha Ackerman and Emma being comforted by her husband Benjamin Ackerman.
Raymond Ackerman’s grandson, Gus Robins, takes a swing in honour of his grandfather.
A temporary statue of Raymond Ackerman swinging a golf club was put up on the driving range at Clovelly Country Club.
Pick n Pay founder Raymond Ackerman’s two dogs, Penny and Seve, also attended his memorial service.