Wolf Just's Tribute

Representing the Just family.


Es ist also wahr, mein Freund. Fort. Unerreichlich und unwiederruflich übergangen in die Ewigkeit. Dein Geist vereint mit denen die vor dir gingen. (So it is really true, my friend. You have gone, inaccessibly and irrevocably into eternity, your spirit united with those who went before you.)

Gottlieb first walked into our lives 32 years ago as a young man on his New Zealand experience. I had worked in Germany and befriended a family in Aschaffenburg. Gottlieb got our address from a friend of a cousin of that family. Thus, from such a tenous link, grew a friendship which has been life-long. Gottlieb came for a meal and there was an instant rapport. He went off climbing in the Southern Alps and returned to us some weeks later, directly from climbing Mt Cook. I remember vividly how healthy his appetite was. I have never seen someone eat as much green salad and with such relish in one sitting. That, perhaps, was our first portent of his future passion for things green - our environment, our bush, our unique landscape. I also remember his colourful English, infused with idioms heard in mountain huts.... Fortunately as he mastered the language he also shed some of the more "interesting" words.

He left for Germany and we thought we might get the occasional card from far-flung mountainous destinations. We did not reckon with Anne. She went on her OE and returned with her trophy. How fortunate for us all and for New Zealand.

In those early years in Chrstchurch we had much contact and many good times together. When Anne, Gottlieb and baby Elke shifted to Tekapo, the contact was a little less frequent but continued. As our families grew we spent rich times together.

The Easter trips became a must. Anne and Akeli hiding easter eggs in the garden, counting carefully and trying to remember all the hiding places. Gottlieb watching, bemused and doing the occasional clucking sound. Then the joy of watching the children find the eggs, share them and then consume them. The many evenings of games and relaxed laughter, the infectious humour, the good-natured banter. The tramps, the trips into his beloved high country with his constant awe and wonder at the sheer beauty of it all, much of it captured in his photographs. His passion for sharing all this and his passion for enabling all to have free access to his unique landscape.

Gottlieb's speech at Elke's wedding showed us all how sensitive and emotional he couold be, a side he did not parade easily. But in the end, it is Gottlieb's philosophy of life, his broad sense of culture, his humanistic education, his pride in his daughters and all their achievements, his deep love of Anne and our warm friendship which will remain with us. His infectious smile when we saw each other, his bantering humour, telling me that I am approaching 70 and he is still in his 50's, though I am only 4 years older than he, and his laugh.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what he would want, smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

The great German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote:
Wer im Gedächtnis seiner Lieben lebt,
Der ist nicht tot, er ist nur fern;
Tot ist nur, wer vergessen wird.

(He who lives in the memory of his loved ones is not dead, he is only far off in the distance; Only he who is forgotten is dead).

We will never forget you, my friend, farewell. Leb wohl mein Freund!


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