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Willem Veenman will be remembered

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After reaching a milestone in love and marriage, Wim died on November 10


Wim and Anne are well remembered as The Book Man and The Knitting Lady.

By Vicky Rowling

THEIR hearts became intertwined through a runaway ball of wool but now the yarn of “The Book Man and The Knitting Lady” has finally reached its end.

Wim and Anne Veenman, residents of many years standing in the local community, celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on November 5. Their story book romance began with a twist in a railway track. It lasted through 60 years of faithful commitment that only death severed. After reaching a milestone in love and marriage, Wim died on November 10.


Wim and Anne Veenman celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.

Wim and Anne are well remembered by many as “The Book Man and The Knitting Lady.” They ran a little stall together at the old Toti CBD and later used a cart in the hallway at Winkle Pick n Pay. It was always filled with Anne’s knitted wares and piled high with Wim’s secondhand books. It was a familiar and well-loved landmark.

Then tragedy struck one sad weekend about 10 years ago, when Anne suddenly became blind almost overnight. However, in spite of the handicap, the two continued with their little business for some time after that. Anne still busied herself plying her knitting needles. She cut a brave figure in dark glasses, while Wim, always her champion, sat faithfully beside her.

Willem Veenman, or Wim as he was known, was born in Holland on August 18, 1932. He was the youngest of eight children. Growing up as a small child in Rotterdam during the Second World War, he personally experienced the hunger pangs and deep sorrow of families torn apart by the ravages of warfare.


Wim was a well loved father. Seen here with little Scampie and his five children.

To save him from starvation, his mother sent him to an orphanage where he could at least be fed. But the orphanage was destroyed by German bombs and Wim, as a very little boy, found himself plodding along, walking in a line, one of many ragged starving people with no concept of time or place.

Wim was so infested with lice that his clothing was virtually moving on his thin little body. A German soldier noticed him and picked him out of the line. This action no doubt saved him from death through disease and starvation. Wim was sent to a kindly farmer and his wife as a foster child of war. Happily, at the end of World War Two, he was reunited with his own family in Rotterdam.

Wim came to South Africa as a humble young railwayman in search of his fortune and he found riches indeed. On a train ride to Durban, he met the love of his life. Then a pretty young girl of 19, Anne was seated on the train, serenely knitting, when a twist in the track seemingly gave the ball of wool a life of its own. It dropped off her lap and proceeded to skip down the aisle, unravelling itself between the leather seats in a tangled web. Sensing a wonderful opportunity to introduce himself, Wim went scrabbling on all fours after it.

His gallant act and subsequent winding up of the wool caused their hearts to become intertwined. A few months later, they tied a permanent nuptial knot that was to last for 60 memorable years.


The Veenmans enjoyed a story book romance that began over 60 years ago.

Wim is survived by his wife, Anne, who lives with their eldest daughter, Cheryl-Anne and her husband, Edwin Potgieter of Queens Terrace, Doonside. Wim is also survived by two siblings, older sisters who are resident in Holland.

He leaves behind two sons, Warren and Leon, as well as two daughters, Grace and Erika and their respective spouses and is survived by 10 grandchildren, a great grandchild and a great great grandchild. Riches indeed.

Wim Veenman’s body was cremated and a beautiful memorial service was held at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kingsburgh. Tulips formed part of the lovely floral arrangement on the platform. Wim’s bright face and ready wit will be sorely missed by his loving family and friends.



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