Tributes to Bruce Lakie
A tribute to Bruce Lakie, dear friend and colleague
I met Bruce when we started our training with Vera Buhrmann, as part of the first training group, in 1986. I got to know Bruce as a gentle, kind person, with a lovely sense of humour. He was quiet, with a great love for gardens, having created the most exquisite garden wherever he lived. And he quietly took care of the Centre garden for many years, until he moved to Nieu-Bethesda. He was also a lover of classical music, and an accomplished pianist. It was always a great pleasure to hear him play on the occasions that we were invited to supper.
As a colleague, I experienced him as deeply perceptive, generous and kind. His intention was always to be supportive, and healing. I know that when he moved to Nieu-Bethesda, he was sorely missed, not only by myself as a colleague, but also by the clients he saw.
During our last year of training 6 of us arranged to go on the Umfolozi trail, which was part of our course requirements. This was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other, and it was an experience of a lifetime. I am grateful that we were able to share this precious time together, which formed the basis of creative and mutually supportive work as colleagues for the years to come. They say a picture says more than a thousand words, and I think that these images of Bruce will speak more clearly of him than what I could say.
This was the only way we could all six be in the photograph together. The crooked finger is the sign of the power of the witch, to keep smoke from the campfire at bay. We played with this idea continuously on this trip, using it as a sign of protection.
We ran out of petrol, and Carole and Bruce walked to the nearest petrol station to get us some petrol. Here they were returning victorious, petrol in hand!
We stopped off on the way back to purchase some mementoes. Bruce chose this beautiful walking stick, with a cross, the symbol of wholeness.
Did I mention that he was a fantastic cook? This was a dish he cooked for us on the morning after we emerged from the trail.
I will miss you Bruce, and will always remember you for the kind and gentle person that you were. It was a privilege to call you friend, and to work with you as a colleague.
Words are so inadequate, only poetry comes close to expressing the grief, and the joy. So I quote from Rilke’s Duino Elegies, the ninth elegy:
But being here is much, and because all this
that’s here, so fleeting, seems to require us and strangely concerns us.
Us the most fleeting of all. Just once,
Everything, only for once. Once and no more. And we, too, once.
And never again.
But this having been once, though only once,
Having been once on earth – can it ever be cancelled?
It is with sadness that I learned of Bruce’s passing. I was on the first Public Programme Committee of SAAJA with Bruce, Glenda Raad and others and recall many meetings in his lovely home in Boshoff Avenue. I always thought of him as a “gentle giant”. He was a man of kindness and humility, quiet and unassuming with a keen intellect and wry humour. I have fond memories of many fun times in the kitchen where the Committee members would gather with our offerings to add to Bruce’s elegant spread when we chose on occasions to mix business with some welcome socialising.
We shared a love of music and I have memories of Bruce sitting at his grand piano and playing so beautifully on the odd occasion you could persuade him to share his musicality. I was introduced to Schubert’s Winterreise for the first time at a recital given in his home in the very early years of SAAJA and since then whenever I hear these exquisite songs I think of Bruce.
The gardens of Bruce’s home in Newlands were breathtakingly beautiful and he was an avid gardener. He would delight in showing you the different plants he may have introduced into this paradise if you were interested as I always was. I was delighted when Bruce offered his gardens for my daughter’s wedding photographs and of course these memorable family photos still remind us of Bruce, his home and the lovely times we shared with him.
It was lovely to see Bruce again a few years back at a SAAJA meeting on his return after many years living in Nieu Bethesda during which we lost contact. I always wondered how he made the move from the lush rolling scenic place nestled below the mountain in Newlands to the dry, arid almost austere surrounds of Nieu Betehesda but knowing Bruce’s love of beauty I have no doubt he would have created a different kind of beauty in his home there.
Thank you Bruce for your part in the fabric of my life in those years.
Dr. Bruce Lakie, one of the founder members of SAAJA, passed away on 29 September 2018
I remember Bruce Lakie so well – the gentle giant he is in my head. We lost contact over the last 10 years or so, when he moved to Nieu-Bethesda. I think it was for health reasons even then – to get away from city life and enjoy tranquillity. Bruce was a quietly spoken man, humble and unassuming. He lived in the most beautiful home in Upper Claremont with a magnificent grand piano in one of the reception rooms. He was generous in sharing this space for some early SAAJA events. He loved music and had a sophisticated knowledge and taste for the classics.
I am sorry he is gone – he represents for me an era of civility and kindness.
My condolences to all who are near to him. He will be sorely missed.
Bruce was a quiet and honourable man for whom I had great respect. An excellent Psychiatrist and Jungian Analyst.
Bruce Lake was part of the first Jungian training group in Cape Town. A quiet and reserved presence but a presence no less, he seemed not to be concerned with ego but with compassion and truth and fairness. we Travelled together with others three times, to the Umfolozi, the Paris Congress in 1989 and their Chicago Congress in 1982 and he was a genial and humourus companion. Standing 6ft 4 inches he was indeed a gentle giant.
Bruce was a very creative person – those who were fortunate to visit his house in Newlands can never forget hi exquisite garden, nor the wonderful meals he conjured up, nor the quality of his piano playing.
Bruce always had a special place in my heart and although we had not been in contact for some time, I will miss him.