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  OBITUARY  

May 10 - 16, 1991

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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Dieter Guenther

MOMBASA TEA EXPORTER AND VISIONARY PHILANTHROPIST

Coastweek -- Dieter Guenther passed away peacefully at Westminster hospital, London, on April 24, 1991 after a short illness.

He was to have been 50 on September 1, 1991 this year.

That celebration will be no more.

Dieter was born in September 1941 in Eastern Prussia.

Soon after the end of the war, Dieter together with his mother and sister, crossed over into Western Germany.

The frugal and spartan life which he experienced as a very young child during the war continued for some years after the war in Western Germany.

The hardship sustained then seems to have made Dieter aware of other peopleís needs and problems;

perhaps that is why so much of his time and effort was directed towards improving the lot of the less fortunate at Mombasa, specially children.

After completing his education and his early training in the tea trade in Europe, the Argentine and Mozambique, Dieter arrived at Mombasa in 1967 to manage a tea trading company at Mombasa.

Soon Dieter was to start his own company, East African Tea Exporters Limited, and became, in his own right, a substantial exporter of teas from Kenya.

Dieterís success was due to his integrity, enthusiasm and willingness not only in his business, but also to serve the tea trade in various capacities, including as Chairman of the East Africa Tea Trade Association.

This last post Dieter occupied with some degree of distinction.

For Dieter it was not enough to serve his vocation only.

There was the boundless energy and drive to serve the various organizations like the Round Table and the Masonic Lodge and there again he was not merely a bench-warmer

If things had to be done, schools to be built, equipment to be purchased and children to be taught, then Dieter was in the forefront of every cause:

travelling overseas to raise money, helping to build and equip schools, and even badgering people to walk for him, and therby raise more money.

The Mombasa Secondary School for the Physically Handicapped stands as a living proof to all Dieterís efforts.

He, in the main, started that project from scratch, raised funds and saw to its completion.

The School now has 120 boys and a full complement of staff, providing education for handicapped children who might not otherwise have received the benefit of any such education at all.

He was also the Chairman of the SOS Village standing next to the School.

Everyone who met Dieter, and whatever he touched, was enriched by the experience; by his charm, good humour, language and willingness to help others.

His love and zest for life, and for the good things therein were insatiable; his love for his fellow human beings was such that he wanted everyone else to have the same facility for enjoyment of life, as he had.

We shall miss that cigar which always preceded Dieter.

We shall miss many other things besides; we shall miss him above all.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

M.S.

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Dieter Will Always Be Remembered For
His Exemplary Social Work At The Coast

Coastweek -- The last thing Dieter said to me before he left for Europe on April 8, 1991 was:

"I really need this holiday, I tell you.

"Iíve been working so hard itís unbelievable I am still on my feet".

I smiled and said what Iíd always said to him in the 12 years Iíd known him:

"But Dieter you canít help it, youíre a work-addict you know".

Two weeks later in a London hospital, he had passed on.

An unwarranted victim of a lung infection.

That Klaus Dieter Guenther-affectionately known as "Mr Kiko", was an indefatigable worker was never in dispute to all those who knew him or came into contact with him.

Born of simple means in Hamburg, West Germany, he used to tell of the period just after the end of the second world war when the family lived in near-starvation conditions.

"Then we were always so hungry that each time we got some potatoes we would start eating them while they were still boiling".

He would always say, never one to hide his humble beginnings.

Eventually, he went to London where he worked in various capacities before going on to South America.

It was in Argentina where he made some money which he brought to Kenya, investing it in the tea business.

Dieter built up East Africa Tea Exporters Limited from scratch, through sheer, non-stop hard work.

He stoutly believed that for once to get anything in life one had to work for it, and work hard he did.

Through his tireless efforts East Africa Tea Exporters Limited became one of the biggest tea exporting companies in the country, and he became at one time, chairman of the East Africa Tea Traders Association.

His other assets included partnerships in Advertising companies, Game Lodges and reputable restaurants - many will remember him as the owner of Tiffanyís, Mombasaís most popular night spot when he was running it - "Bwana Kikoís" Club, they used to say.

However, Dieter will most be remembered for the social work he was committed to.

Through the Round Table Association Number Three, he was a major donor to numerous charities.

He played a part in the construction of the Port Reitz Polio Clinic.

He was also a leading supporter of the SOS Childrens Village, even sponsoring a child when the village became functional.

Then came The Mombasa Secondary School for the Physical Handicapped (M.S.S.P.H.).

Dieter was the convenor and it was his biggest project to date.

Working ceaselessly he raised millions of shillings from international donors like kinsmen of Canada and Round Tablers in Germany.

Locally he sought, and got pledges from many companies and individuals for building materials and school equipment.

It was never easy.

There were delays, price fluctuations, broken promises and general human failures.

Through all this Dieter persevered.

He persevered through the hindrances, bottlenecks and unkempt pledges, and the result of his perserverence was the M.S.S.P.H.

There were. other, too numerous to mention here.

Let it suffice to say that his was a hand of generosity of selfless giving.

None was too low to have his ear, and none was ever turned away from his audience.

Some took unfair advantage of this of course, and Dieter knew it, but he continued giving, forgiving, believing in the ultimate good of human nature.

Yes, Dieter was human, but a very special kind of human being.

He learned to adapt and adopt in the real senses of the words.

But words donít mean enough here, for Dieter has passed on.

Its the thoughts that matter.

The thoughts of all who met him, knew him, loved him.

Itís their thoughts that should linger on - linger on like the last glimmering ray of the setting sun, the shimmer of a star too far away to reach - illusive, yet persistent.

Thatís what matters, that Dieter lives in our heart and minds - till that day when we meet again.

May God the grear Architect of the Universe grant his soul eternal peace and repose.

Joe Daka, Mombasa.

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Dieter Guenther Was Always Unstinting...  

Coastweek -- We write jointly in respect of the tragic and untimely death of Dieter Guenther.

The Mombasa Secondary School for the Physically handicapped stands as a memorial to this man whose main concern in life was for those less fortunate than himself since he was the main instigator and driving force behind establishing this institution.

What perhaps is less well known is his great contribution to the SOS Childrenís Village where from 1987 until his death he was chairman of the management committee.

Dieter Guenther was a German expatriate, a long term resident of Mombasa, member of Mombasa Round Table and a highly respected Kenyan tea merchant.

Outside public life he was a very private man who sought no publicity, recognition or thanks for his charitable work.

He saw it all in the children whom he served.

The loss to the SOS Village by Dieter Guentherís death will be reflected in the enormous administrative role that goes with the chairmanship, a role which he fulfilled willingly and unstintingly.

His participants beyond the duties of chairman included the anonymous sponsorship of children resident in the Village, the anonymous funding of the annual Motherís Day luncheon;

in Dieterís company, the traditional German celebration on Christmas Eve would be spent with the mothers and children at the village.

A modest man, a generous man, a private man; characteristics which conceal the extent of his contribution to the community - a true son of Kenya.

Chris Fryer, Malvern, U.K.

Ray Woodhams, Sussex, U.K., Past Chairman - SOS Childrenís Village, Mombasa.

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