The family of the late South African businessman and philanthropist, Raymond Ackerman has paid a moving tribute to him at the Clovelly Country Club in Cape Town. He has been described as the epitome of humility, who knew his own heart and mind well enough to chart his own course.
Ackerman, who grew Pick ‘n Pay from four stores in the late 1960’s to the household name it is today, died last week at the age of 92.
A fitting farewell to a man who loved golf so much so that according to those in the know, he never cancelled a match in his life.
At the golf club started by his father, Gus, the greens played host to those who braved icy conditions to pay tribute to a giant of South African business.
Ackerman is known for his fierce determination to provide employment, promote black staff into managerial positions during apartheid.
“He was absolutely a man of courage, and he used his principles and systems to build a business because he was supporting the people of South Africa in terms of trying to get them low prices, trying to look after the consumers and one of the ways of doing it was through petrol and bread, but he also believed in uplifting the people,” says Gareth Ackerman, son.
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Ackerman’s children and grandchildren spoke of a man whose sincere interest in people and global events inspired them and whose legacy will live on through the values he imparted in their lives. He was described as a simple, humble human being.
“Every day he always ate peanut butter, he had bread with thick slice of butter and I think that comes back to the war years in which he grew up in there was no butter. He loved his butter and his bread and peanut butter. He loved his Coca-Cola. Every morning he used to eat his bowl of jungle oats, but raw, not cooked jungle oats. Those were three of the icon brands that he loved,” Ackerman explains.
His humility was a core trait that those who worked with him will always remember.
“Raymond has never missed a board meeting and in each of those board meetings remembered every single person, but more important, every time he opened his mouth, first was respectful, acknowledged you by your name, was apologetic if he had to intervene in a conversation and was always deeply concerned about consumer rights, always concerned about what the inflation, the impact to the consumer, always concerned are we doing the right thing, is it good business,” says Audrey Mothupi, Non-Executive Director: Pick ‘n Pay.
His business acumen and commitment to job creation and equality has been lauded.
“35 000 people in Pick ‘n Pay have got jobs because of this business that he has built. That is an unbelievable legacy in and of itself, besides all of the other things but those 35 000 families are supported by this business, and you can hear that it meant a lot to him,” says Geordin Hill-Lewis, Cape Town mayor.
Ackerman leaves behind his wife, Wendy, four children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He has been laid to rest in a private ceremony.