MIKE de Kock has paid tribute to leading owner and breeder Chris Gerber, who passed away at age 53 on Tuesday. Gerber had contracted malaria on a recent fishing trip, showed a recovery but fell back ill this week.
Mike said on Wednesday: “I am shocked and very sad. I don’t even how best to convey comfort and sympathies to his beautiful family, it’s so hard at a time like this, he was a wonderful asset to racing, and an inspiration to everyone who knew him.
“Chris’s loss is incalculable. He was that kind of man, a man who cannot ever be forgotten, who cannot ever be replaced. We’ll be having memorials for him years from now, when his memory will remain as strong as ever and his influence on all our lives will still be felt!”
Chris was the son of Springbok rugby player Mickey Gerber, but, despite the rugby genes, he grew up going to the races with his father and has had horses in his blood all his life.
He attended King Edward School in Johannesburg, did an undergraduate degree at Stellenbosch and completed his post-grad studies at UCT to become a chartered accountant.
He was an extremely proud and generous KES old boy and has since enabled many a boy to attend what he called “God’s Academy”.
Chris’s company owned many of the Engen One-Stop service stations along the main South African highways and were involved in a number of other forecourts. He described himself as a man who “pumped fuel” for money.
Chris listed Charles Faull as his mentor come breeding matters and his thirst for knowledge in this regard knew no bounds. He spent more time on pedigrees than just about anything else!
He loved his golf and he absolutely adored Bruce Springsteen music.
Alec Laird, his trainer of choice, noted: “It was honour to know Chris as a sportsman, a racing partner and a close friend. He played fair, he was a man among men.”
Friend and colleague Mark Currie noted: “Chris was intensely passionate about everything that was important to him – his family, his business ventures and of course racing.
“He was particularly passionate about the administration of the racing industry and never wanted anything for himself. He gave much more to racing than he ever took out. He even donated his director’s fees to the Highveld Horse Care Unit, an equine welfare organisation.”
Colin Gordon commented: “Chris brought value to every person he met!” – perhaps the one description as close to knowing Chris as one could get.
The Memorial Service for Chris Gerber will be held at King Edward VII School 44 St Patrick’s road Houghton on Tuesday the 6th November at 14h30 in the School Hall. Wear something RED!