Obituary: Former mayor Pat Rainier

2011-03-11 00:00

FORMER city mayor Pat Rainier (86) died in Pretoria recently after a short illness.

Rainier was a city councillor from 1975 to 1993 and mayor in 1991.

Her son George said his mother retired to Pretoria to be close to his two sisters who live there.

He recalled that Rainier’s tenure was during a turbulent period — the phase of transition shortly after former president Nelson Mandela was released from prison and before the 1994 democratic election. It was also a time when Pietermaritzburg was wracked by violence.

“My mother was a fairly enlightened person and as a civic leader she was a forward thinker. All of this due to her faith. She was a devout Catholic and this helped her engage with and relate to people,” George said.

At her installation as mayor, Rainier expressed concern that the then all-white council was not talking to the city’s black community. She said local government had to change if it was going to be of any use to the country at all.

She also worked with religious institutions and appealed to them to join in prayers for peace.

She had the honour of meeting Mandela for tea in the city hall in October 1990, after he had called on local ANC leaders and midlands convenor Harry Gwala.

Originally from Pretoria, Rainier moved to Pietermaritzburg when her late husband, Hedley, was appointed Master of the Supreme Court.

Besides her work as a civic leader and her church activities, she was an ardent bowler and was president of SA Women’s Bowls from 1985 to 1988.

Her funeral was held in Pretoria yesterday. She leaves three children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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