Farewell to former mayor of Goodwood

Former mayor of Goodwood Louwtjie Rothman died last week, aged 85.

Goodwood’s former mayor, Louwtjie Rothman, 85, died last week after a short illness.

Neville Hitchcock, treasurer of the Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association, said Mr Rothman had been very active in politics.

“He is commonly known as Mr Goodwood. He was elected mayor on several occasions, and I believe he is leaving behind a legacy that cannot be easily filled.”

He described Mr Rothman as an open-minded person and said he had gotten to know him well over the years because he had bought his children’s school uniforms from Rothmans, the store Mr Rothman ran with his wife, Stella.

An employee at Rothmans, Nicolene Coetzee, said Mr Rothman’s death was a “huge shock”

“He had a stroke and later died in hospital. He was a wonderful boss, and I wish I could turn back time. He always put his staff members first,” she said.

Johan Rothman said his father had had a stroke two weeks before his death on Tuesday June 26.

“He was in a critical condition, and the medical staff told us to prepare for anything,” he said.

Mr Rothman said his mother, Stella, 85, had Alzheimer’s disease and the family was trying to help her get used to a new routine.

Mr Rothman said his father had taught him to live responsibly and treat others with respect.

“Those were the key lessons. My father also told us for quite some time that he cannot work forever.

“He was a workaholic and worked right up until he suffered a stroke.

“Up until his death, he was still doing his own books without the help of a computer. He didn’t believe in computers. He would always say if he retired, he would die sooner.”

In an interview with the Northern News two years ago, Mr Rothman spoke about how he had lived in Goodwood since 1933 after his parents moved from Tamboerskloof (“Goodwood’s rich 111-year heritage,” October 26, 2016).

He was three months old when the family settled at 80 Surrey Street, which would later become the well-known school-uniform shop, Rothmans.

His father, Elias Rothman, whose nickname was “Jassie”, built the house in 1933 and opened an account for the business with Standard Bank on Tuesday December 8, 1936.

“The business was originally called Laurence Villa Shoe Store.

“The land cost my father 50 pounds and he was allowed to trade from it as there were no regulations governing it during those days.

“There was no municipality at that time only a village management board and they then gave him the right to trade from the plot,” Mr Rothman said at the time.

Mr Rothman joined his father’s business in 1951, and he and Stella took over the running of it in 1961.

“After we started as a shoe store, there was a demand for cigarettes, groceries, clothing and bed linen, especially during World War II, during which you could not buy soap, electric bulbs, cutlery and bed sheeting.

“We then became a negosie winkel (bric-a-brac) and our original name fell away because people would never call it by its name but rather say: ‘We buy from the Rothmans.’”

Also in that 2016 interview, Mr Rotham reflected on his life, saying: “If I had to live my life over again, I would like to go to school in Goodwood; I’d love to be a businessman in Goodwood, and I would like to serve the public in Goodwood.

“ Most importantly, I would also still marry the same woman again.”

Mr Rothman will be laid to rest at the Dutch Reformed Church in Goodwood today Wednesday July 4 at 11am.

He leaves behind his wife, Stella, three sons, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.