16 June 1896, 14 Kimberley residents drown when SS Drummond Castle sinks, 1896
16 June 1998, Businessman Poddy Shein (pictured) dies.
Poddy Shein remembered with affection
Herman Louis Shein, affectionately known to all as “Poddy”, had a great sense of humour, and would have appreciated the fact that he came into and left this world on two iconic dates. According to the obituary in the Diamond Fields Advertiser he was born on 11 November 1913 (later known as Armistice Day that ended World War I in 1918) and he died aged 85 years on 16 June 1998 (Youth Day that commemorates the Soweto Uprising of 1976). However, other sources including his ID number, state that he was born on 9 November 1912. At the time of his death he was the eldest surviving old boy of St Patrick’s Christian Brothers College Kimberley and had enjoyed their centenary celebrations in 1997.
His parents were Israel and Girlie and there were three sons born to the union – Abe, Poddy and Bennie. His father Israel (Issy) and brother Bennie were butchers, while elder brother Abe was a medical doctor.
He married Henrietta Sarah (Girlie) Haberfeld on 20 October 1946. Married for 52 years Girlie would die shortly after her beloved Poddy.
Poddy served in World War II with the artillery, and in Kimberley had his own business specialising in furniture and electrical goods. Although the Kimberley business closed several years before his demise there were still Poddy Shein stores operating in Klerksdorp, Kuruman and Vryburg in 2017.
It was his community and charitable works that set Poddy aside from his fellow mortals in Kimberley.
He was a long serving President of the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce (now known as NOCCI), having been in the chair for two stints, 1967 to 1972, and again from 1975 to 1980. He would be elected an honorary member of the Chamber in 1987.
In 1968 as Chamber President he prophesied most wisely that “…a new “bug” had appeared in the business world – that of “discount wars”, and he feared that many small businesses would collapse or fail with competition from national firms. This indeed came true as large chain stores put paid to many small family businesses.”
In 1969 the “greatest venture of all time” occurred, the landing of man on the moon. “We salute them all,” said Poddy Shein. Tourism came to the fore in 1970 when it was mentioned that 122 845 people had visited the Big Hole and the adjacent open-air museum. “If properly exploited Kimberley’s tourist potential is perhaps the brightest in South Africa,” said Shein. He also mentioned that Kimberley “imports more than we export (excluding diamonds) and this has a detrimental effect on the economy of the town.”
Poddy was also the Chairman of the SA Perm, a Kimberley town councillor, member of the Kimberley Hospital Board, and an enthusiastic supporter of the Red Cross. He had also served on the committees of the Kimberley Club, Kimberley Regimental Association, the GW Hebrew Congregation and the Kimberley Town Bowling Club. He was a Life member of the bowling club and had been their champion in 1962, 1976 and in 1981.
He was an active member of the Rotary Club and was elected a Paul Harris Fellow in October 1992 for his outstanding services to the organization.
Always willing to give advice, he was a most charitable individual with a fantastic sense of humour, and in his time, was one of the leading citizens of Kimberley.
Remembered with great affection by many.
May he RIP.