Aaron Searll (25 September 1931 – 8 May 2010)

Extracts from the eulogy delivered by Rabbi Osher Feldman at the funeral on Monday 10 May

Some of us will remember Aaron as a man who possessed tremendous discipline, tenacity and strength. A man, though quite reserved and even a bit shy, who had enormous presence and was greatly respected by all who knew him.

Some of us will remember Aaron as one of South Africa’s leading captains of industry — a man who was passionate about his work and who literally built an empire. At one time Seardel was the largest clothing and textile manufacturing company in the southern hemisphere, employing some 25 000 people.

Some of us will remember Aaron for his tremendous philanthropy; Aaron appreciated the importance of giving back to the community, and whether it was donating to the synagogues, the UJC or establishing a trust fund for education, Aaron’s generosity and kindness knew no bounds.

While his remarkable acts of generosity are well known throughout the community, there was a lot that he did that nobody knew about, which shows his tremendous love and compassion for every human being.

When he gave, it wasn’t for the kavod, or the yichus, for the honour or for the glory, but he gave because that’s just the sort of person he was.

In this week’s parsha we read about the first recorded Aaron in history, he brother of Moses and High Priest in the Temple, who was known for his love and kindness for every human being — and looking back at Aaron’s life we could definitely say that he did his namesake proud.

And then there are some of us who will remember Aaron for his keen sense of humour. Aaron was quirky and even eccentric in his own way, and was a lot of fun to be around.

There are those who will remember Aaron the pilot, who loved flying, an honorary colonel in the South African Air Force … Aaron the Jazz pianist, who as a teenager led the Golly Searll band, and loved Frank Sinatra … Aaron the prolific reader, who had a PHD in Business Administration … Aaron the sportsman, who loved tennis, swimming and exercise.

But perhaps above all else, Aaron will be remembered as a loving, dedicated and devoted family man, the patriarch and rock of the Searll family, the glue who kept everything together. Aaron was blessed with two
great loves in his life — he shared 40 special years with his first wife
Adele, and 12 special years with Lauren, his second. They raised six beautiful children, all brought up with a strong sense of family.

Friday night Shabbat dinners in the Searll’s home were legend; even people who weren’t part of the family loved coming to “Gabor’s” house — as he was affectionately known — for Shabbat dinner.

Somebody recently commented to Aaron how lucky he was to have all his family in South Africa, and to be the beneficiary of so much love from them.

He replied that at the end of the day that’s all there is … love. He was truly blessed to share and receive so much love in his lifetime.

Lauren, Balu, Graham, Jenny, Cathy, Juliet, Sofia and all the family, I’d like to wish you all strength during this difficult time and I hope that the beautiful memories of the love and the good times you shared together will be a source of strength for you.

Aaron’s grandchildren adored him and were so proud that he was their grandfather. But there is one grandchild, Georgina, who is overseas and who unfortunately wasn’t able to make it to the funeral, and so I’d like to read a letter that she wrote from Israel on behalf of all the grandchildren.

Worlds of greatness, absolute class, love beyond imagination. All summed
up in one unforgettable word …. GABOR … My SPECIAL Grandpa. The connection we had will impact on me for the rest of my life. I would give anything to be there now, but even being here in Israel, I still feel close to you, and I know you are looking over me and protecting me every step of the way.

I look up to you in every way possible … All I want is to make you proud. You have been an inspiration to all of us grandchildren, impacting each of us in a different and personal way, and we all treasure the many memories we shared with you. Before I left, you gave me a kiss and told me you loved me. I want to take this opportunity to tell you again just how much I love you.

You are the heart and soul of this family … and a TRUE KING in our eyes.

Georgina Nivison


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