The Passing of Mary Magdalene Baatjies

Mary Baatjies

2 November 1953 – 3 February 2015

It is with great sadness that we convey the news of Mary Baatjies passing yesterday. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends in this time of grief.

Teacher Mary was loved and revered by all our youth players and the many children that she taught over the years as schoolteacher, not to mention the ones who learnt the fundamentals of the game of chess in her loving care.
Although we have to say farewell to Aunty Mary, she will continue to live on in our minds and hearts. We cherish the memory of her wise words of advice and her warm smile.

Mary Baatjies proudly served her community as educator and sports administrator since 1975. It was as Deputy Principal of Sullivan Primary School in Steenberg that she started the Sullivan Rooks Chess Club in 2012. All of our youth players in District South know Teacher Mary for her enthusiasm and inspiration as Chairperson of the District.

Even after retirement in 2013 she continued organising athletics meetings and training within schools clusters.
Coach Mary famously quipped: “Now that I am retired, I can spend all my time on chess coaching!”

She never stopped promoting Sport and Chess within schools. A pioneer in the development of Schools Sports, Coach Mary was always raising funds for transport and entry fees for youth athletes of various sporting codes.

Her efforts to bring about change and to uplift underprivileged communities in Southern Suburbs are best seen in her work with David Berman and David MacEnulty in the non-profit organization Chess for Change. Many youth chess players have earned provincial and national colours because of her direct involvement in their lives. The impact of her dedication and efforts has changed the lives of a generation of sportsmen and women in District South.

Mary Magdalene Baatjies was an avid player in her own right, representing the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) at national level, and winning the Women’s Gold Medal while her team won Silver at the 1999 Teachers Chess Tournament. In 2013 she was awarded the title Sport Legend by the Western Cape Provincial Government.

We will dearly miss our beloved community builder and a true sports legend; we wish her family, friends and youth athletes peace, comfort and courage as they face the days ahead.

With love and remembrance

Chess Western Province

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