Hugh Brian (Buzz) Macey
Hugh Brian Macey was born in 1942 with the world at war. He died on Sunday the 9th of December 11 days before his 76th birthday. He led an extraordinary life that must be celebrated.
Dad was extraordinary for many reasons. 1. because of his diverse interest and talents and 2. his outstanding values and morals and 3. because of the incredible positive influence that he has had on so many people. My message today will not be able to do justice to his legacy but I will try my best to highlight his milestones and achievements. Dad was involved in scouting for 65 years and most of his life’s story is intimately entwined with the activities of the movement and so my message will too be a splice his personal and scouting lives.
Early life for dad was tough, his parents being of humble means but able to provide for his and his sibling's needs, if not for their wants. Dad joined 2nd Pinelands scouts at 11. Garnet de la hunt, a future Chief Scout of South Africa, was his scoutmaster. Garnet, the great leader, teacher and scouting visionary introduced a young Hugh to the scouting way. The 7-year mentorship showed Dad that scouting movement develops future leaders and great citizens through virtuous and kind teachings using fun, adventure and skills training and most importantly, through giving responsibilities to youngsters so that they test their characters, achieve goals and believe in themselves and their dreams. Through scouts, a young Hugh developed a great love for the outdoor life, drawn to the wonder of nature and its gifts of adventure and spiritual renewal. Dad achieved the Queens Scout award, but scouting was by no means his only interest or talent as a teenager. As an early teen, he was already proficient in electronics, building all sorts of electronic gadgets like transistor radios. He was a talented showman, he acted and did lighting for an amateur theatrics company. He was a talented magician. Anyone who has attended a Buzz Macey Campfire will attest to his ability to hold an audience. Amazingly, this gift for acting was matched by a gift of a practical, mathematical brain paired with hands that could fix or build anything. He bought his first car for 5 pounds as a 16-year-old, a sports car that no mechanic could get to run, but through his perseverance, he could. Dad has always made people feel good about themselves and taken a sincere interest in their passions. This has made him popular with all. Just image the picture of the sports car loaded with his friends none of them sure how to drive but damn well giving it a try. Dad always loved cars and was a rally driver and navigator and a self-taught mechanic. As he got older his motorbike and sports car were replaced by the Landrover, a car that he loved for its practice it's the outdoors, its ease of repair but also its romantic symbol of adventure. It was a prop for his scoutmaster days and so many scouts have commented on social media how exciting it was to be bundled into Buzz’s Landrover and taken on an adventure.
Dad’s other great love as a teenager was first aid. Dad’s ambition was to be a doctor and he joined St Johns as a first aider and, incredibly, as a teenager volunteered to the trauma unit at Victoria hospital. Dad was active in St Johns as a first aider to the movies, sports activities and other events. He remained a member of St Johns for more than 3 decades moving up the ranks as an ambulance man and then trainer.
Unfortunately, his dream of becoming a doctor was not to be. his dad – my grandfather – fell seriously ill and Buzz had to leave school early to find work to support his family along with his brother Dennis. Instead, Dad enrolled in an apprenticeship to become an electrical technician through the Dept of Post and Telecommunications (now Telkom) that offered training with some income. Following an all-encompassing training that included lathe work, welding and digging holes for telephone poles he was sent to the transmitting station at Klipheuwel, 20km N of Durbanville. Dad worked for Telkom his entire career rising through the ranks to become a Control Technician. He was retrenched at 55, having served them for 38 years.
Having moved from Pinelands to Klipheuwel aged about 20, Dad also moved troop from 2nd Pinelands to a small Durbanville troop. Although not really an avid sportsman he played hockey and is a founder member of the Durbanville Hockey Club. Around this time, he married our mom, Gail de Wet in 1965. He was 22 and mom 19. He fell in love with her because of her pure heart, unique quirky and gentle nature but also her willingness to share his passions. As children, we loved the story about her cycling to the scrap yard to fetch a car part for Dad. On asking my grandfather for her hand, he received a reply that his blessing was on condition that my dad could provide a furnished home. Dad provided for Mom and their children until Mom died of cancer in 1995. As a man of his word above all else, dad continued to provide, taking on the dual roles of being mom and dad to Debbie, Bridget and I.
My mom and dad’s 29-year marriage was born into and therefore entwined in scouting and together they ran the 1st Durbanville Scout troop for more than 25 years. My dad the frontman leading the show, my shy introverted but supremely organised mom the backup, making sure of all the arrangements for the program, from menus, quartermaster lists and recipes (all handwritten) to transport and procurement, all whilst being a full-time mom to us three. They were a great team growing the troop to 6 patrols of 10 and a long waiting list of boys wanting to join. As children, we grew up surrounded by scouts often used as patients for first aid training. Scouts happened on Friday evenings, weekends were camps, competitions and badge courses. Tuesdays and Thursday's scout advancement and the court of honours. I remember as a 12-year-old, a scout calling at 2 pm on a weekday afternoon asking after Buzz. I said – He is at work. “What !?” came the reply – “does Buzz do other work – I thought scoutmastering was his job !” As a boy, I did not want to be a fireman but rather a superhero like my dad, a scoutmaster. Although young, I had noticed how scouts, scouters and parents were all in awe of his commitment to them and their children. When I joined scouts I felt like an entitled prince, and, in hindsight, must have been insufferable to my Patrol leader, Hennie de Haan. My dad would have noticed my behaviour and that is why he placed – as he would do with every scout – me with the right PL. He knew that I had 7 years for the scouting way to build my character including developing my humility. I cannot fix a car nor can I build or do electronics and most certainly I am not an actor but I love the outdoors and the adrelinin rush of new challenges and places. In scouting, Nature and nurture came together and Dad and I shared every Friday, most weekends, troop camps and Cedarbergs together. Along with my scouting brothers, he taught me the basic skills of pioneering, camping, hiking, backwoods and first aid. He tested our characters by giving us challenges and responsibilities that we did not know if we could achieve but he did. When we succeeded our self-esteem grew and in turn, we began to help and lead others. Unknown to us, BP, Garnet and Buzz were leading us, slowly converting boys into good men of fortitude. One such man is my best friend at scouts, the remarkable “Xanadu” le Roux, who said it best: “Buzz leaves quite a legacy! I can’t think of anyone who influenced my life more when we were growing up. Much of the good things I am today is due to him.”
Another quote. This time from Carl le Roux: “You can be very proud of your dad. The impact that he has had on thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives, mine included, is a legacy that will transcend generations.”
The Durbanville troop flourished winning multiple completions and a record run of Tonkin trophies, the trophy award to the best troop in the Western Cape region. Dad was running provincial training courses, had his wood badge and trainers beads and so Western Cape scouting took notice and in 1988 asked Buzz to take over the Western Cape Commissioner for Scout program. It was not an easy decision to leave Durbanville but Dad was ready for a new challenge. He remained just as focused and committed to scouting. The difference was that his positive influence now reached boys, and scouters, from across the Western Cape.
Dad attended the World Jamboree in America in 1989. It was an amazing experience for him that added many tales to his storybook, a book he loved to share with us. One of the common comments from mourners over the past few days has been that they loved Buzz’s stories.His stories spoke of is adventures which excited us or how he overcame a challenge and it inspired us, or they were funny and self-deprecating and they made us laugh and feel better about ourselves.
My Mom died in October 2005. She was a granny for 3 weeks, my sister Debbie having given her and dad their first grandchild. He was devastated at losing his “cooks”. He cried with me once and then put on his brave face so that he could look after his grieving children. Since then we, that is Debbie, Bridget and I together with Jeremey, Brett and Judy have given Dad a total of 7 grandchildren who range in age from 23 to 3. To them, Buzz is Grandpa or as Alex says Brampa. He has been an involved, loving and accessible grandpa who they all adored. They will miss him dearly.
Dad loved the completions, especially the Rayner trophy, a gruelling hiking completion for senior scouts to test their scouting skills, their preparedness, leadership and teamwork. Dad was successful in life because he only accepted a job done properly. The Cub motto “do your best”. Usually, because you have come “Prepared”.
Dad also loved teaching. As a natural, gifted communicator and listener, he could gauge the needs of his audience and tailor make the lesson, often on the fly. He recognised we all are different and learn differently and have different capabilities so he individualised his teaching, being supremely patient with those who struggle and pushing those who needed the challenge.
Of all the scouting activities that Buzz was involved with, the Cedarberg Senior Scout Adventure was his favourite. Hands down. The brainchild of legendary Colin Inglis, the NSSA has scouts hike across the rugged Cedarberg mountains for 12 days, travelling from base to base to take part in activities such as rock climbing, marksmanship, scuba diving, archery, Dutch oven cooking, electronics, water sports, 4x4, astronomy and gold panning to name a few. Dad was the only living person to have attended every adventure since its inception in 1971. As I and every participant of the Cedarberg Adventure can attest to, the NSSA is a life-changing event for the boys – and now girls – that take part. To dad, it was true scouting. Putting the scout's skills to the test not in a completion setting but as an expedition in a real mountain where thing could and did go wrong. The challenge is physical, emotional, the growth of character in 2 weeks noticeable. The adventure works because of the scouter and expert volunteers. The staff work harder in the two weeks than they do in a month at their normal jobs. So why do they do it? For one, they get an amazing sense of accomplishment but equally the adventure brings together brothers in scouting. My dad loved the Cedarberg because he could be with his best friends, surround himself with good men and woman and have fun. Garnet, Colin, Impie, Errol, John, Denzil, both Richards, Nigel, David, Rod, Mike and of course his closest friend Charles, and all of the others were all so dear to him.
Andrew Campbell wrote “Buzz has not really left us. Every time you plunge into the river at Sandrif, he will be there. When the sun sets behind Sneeuberg, streaking red light across the Cederberg, he will be there. When the quiet lapping of waves on the shores of Clanwilliam Dam restores your soul, he will be there. When the heat rains down around you while you enjoy the cool shade of the oak trees at Kalkoenfontein, he will be there. Enjoy a well deserved rest Mr Cederberg, see you on the other side!”
After 10 years of leading the Western Cape Scout program, dad took up the post of National commissioner of Scout program. As with his move from troop to provincial level, his experience and impact was felt by all, but now nationally. During this time he wrote the Scout Trail, the book guiding scouts through their advancement from pathfinder to Springbok Scout. It was also during this time that he coordinated the introduction of girls into scouting. Two years after my Mom died, Dad re-met his teenage girlfriend Pat and they have been partner ever since
Dad has won multiple awards for his service to scouting. In 2003, he was awarded the Order of the Silver Springbok for exceptional service to the Association. He is also one few to have been awarded the 60 year bar to his Long Service Medal. Outside of scouting, Buzz was recognised by the Rotary Club of Durbanville for “Services above yourself” and in 2012 he was awarded the prestigious "Mayor's Medal for Community Service" in the category "for Youth Affairs" by the City of Cape Town. This year, the 1st Durbanville Troop renamed their scout hall the Buzz Macey Hall. To the committee, scouters and scouts of 1st Durbanville - Thank you for so much for doing this. It meant so much to us that Dad got to be recognised whilst he was still with us.
For the past 15 years Dad has been struggling with chronic heart disease and a collection of other illnesses associated with this degenerative condition. Scouting continued, although at a slowing pace. Dad became commissioner of the Southern African region and thoroughly enjoyed his trips to and interactions with the scouting fraternity in Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Malawi and Botswana. Of course he refused to give up the Cedarberg even when he was particular ill. The staff and his great friend Charles made sure he could be there and contribute. Dad continued to coordinate the Springbok hikes, do adult training, serve on multiple committees and work on the Scout Heritage centre.
About 7 years ago Dad went back to work, this time for my brother in law Brett. The new business was a Volvo workshop with Brett as mechanic and dad the bookkeeper and client liaison. Dad loved the new adventure and learning new skills in accounting and Pascal software but more than that loved to work alongside Brett – his other son with whom he could, unlike me, discuss his passion for cars and electronics. Thank you for that gift Brett. He so admired your courage to start your own business.
For the past 8 years or so, Dad has been living with Bridget and Brett and Amy and Jaden. Debbie and I are so grateful for what you gave dad. A loving and caring home, you valued his advice and asked for his teaching making him feel needed. Bridget looked after Dad as his health deteriorated, always attending to his needs, always loving him. Thank you B for being his rock and our family’s mother hen.
We thank his doctors and nurses. Dad was a regular guest of the Durbanville Mediclinic ICU and they were amazing, thank you. Thank you to his cardiologists Dr Basson and Dr van Rensburg. Dr Basson was a great match for dad – telling him that he must live life and avoid dying in bed. Dad got that. Thank you also to the surgeon that saved his life 3 weeks ago. It gave us precious time to be with Dad.
My sister Debbie wrote this message on Facebook about is last day. It gave me comfort and I would like to share it with you.
“You never know what a day will bring. We set out yesterday morning for Durbanville to help with the big move. Moving my dad and my sister and her family to a new house after 45 years. We all had breakfast together and then started to work. Dad went with the girls to the new house to supervise. We worked hard and lunch was late so we took dad a snack so he could take his pills, taking turns to make sure he had enough juice. I sat with him on the couch in his new study and we discussed where he would like his things to be placed and the view from his new place. We talked about what we could plant against the back wall and put in his little courtyard. Then we had another family meal and took silly selfies with dad. We made a bed for dad on the couch for him to rest and watch cricket but soon he had fallen asleep. Judy stayed to watch him and put Alex down for a nap. Eventually we decided we couldn't do anymore so all came back to my brother's house for dinner together. We lay on the couch chatting to Dad with our sore feet up. Dad was enjoying his meal and chatting with us. Sean put balsamic vinegar on dads salad and he was enjoying the new taste. Suddenly we realised he was not ok and got up to help him. We did everything to help him, my sister in law is a doctor and she was the calm voice of reason in our terror. We did everything we could to save him but eventually we had to let him go. The pain of losing our precious dad is so great but I am so very grateful that God let us all be with him. He asked to be released from hospital on Saturday to help with the move. His last moments were with his children and grandchildren all around him. - Daddy we will miss you so much. Your love, your steadfast presence, your wise advice, your stories, your integrity, your gentleness, the many times you helped and taught us, how you had to be our mom and dad when mom died. Who you were and everything you stood for, you leave with us. Love you forever.”
Debbie’s friend replied
“What a beautiful story, shared so that we could experience your last moments together. How precious that you got to be there for and with him as he no doubtably sat back, enjoyed the beautiful family scene before him, knew he had done good, and he could go home.”
One might ask: “so why has Buzz given so much to scouting for so long”. The great friendships (brotherhood) developed through scouting is a significant factor, but the joy of helping a young person to be the best they can be and the rush when they achieve something that even they did not believe was possible, has always been the prime motivation.
Buzz has always tried to live the scout principles, following its promise and laws that call a scout to do his/her best to be honest, loyal, helpful, a friend, courteous, kind, obedient, thrifty and respectful, and to tackle challenges in good humour and with integrity. Although naturally competitive, he has never pushed his scouts to win, but rather to prepare themselves for every eventuality (Scout Motto) and then to give of their best (Cub motto).
Buzz was a real gentleman and a legend. He was a very special person, whom I never heard speak ill of anyone in the 15 years I knew him.
A gentle, dedicated and brave man who gave a lifetime to generations of Scouts. He leaves a a legacy of commitment, fortitude and passion. We have so many fond Adventure memories. Thank you Buzz x
May your soul Rise in Power Buzz...you were and still a very true Scout and a leader in all regards....learned soooo much from you.....Mahikeng will deeply miss you!
The Scouting world has lost a true legend. RIP Hugh Buzz Macey. If the key to immortality is living a life worth remembering, then Buzz will live on forever in the ever expanding ripples of his influence. Thank you for being a part of my journey!
I'll always be thankful to Buzz for arranging for me to attend the Cederberg Adventure when I was a young scout in Gauteng. I didn't have the means to attend myself, but he made it happen, and it was one of the best experiences of my childhood. Just a testament to how he touched so many lives.
A legend, gentleman and an inspiration.
Its was always fun to be with Buzz. Always a good chat. One of my earliest memories was in the back of a landrover speeding on a dirt road....
RIP Hugh Buzz Macey. Much of my way of life was initiated by you and your selfless mentorship. #gonehome
Hugh "Buzz" Macey - one of the greatest men I ever met. "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it. Begin now."
This is what I learned from you Buzz. Thank you for your leadership!
So sorry to hear this, Paul. Your dad was such a legend and I still have such fond memories of him leading the Boy Scouts of Durbanville. A great loss and a life fully lived. My deepest condolences to you and your family.