October 21, 2020
1940-2020 ~ Hugo Barnard Lambrechts, one of Port Alberni’s best-loved veterinarians, died at the time of God’s choosing on October 21st, 2020 at the age of 80. After a long goodbye, he died peacefully at home.
Hugo was born in Umtata, Transkei, South Africa. From boyhood he loved nature and when his mother called him to do chores at home, often escaped into the
bush. When he was a teen the family moved to Pretoria. The big city was a shock to his psyche: More escapes to the bush, especially during the summer holidays where he would accompany his father, also a veterinarian.
After matriculation he followed in his father’s footsteps and studied at Onderstepoort, the veterinary faculty of the University of Pretoria.
He graduated with honours, then joined the government service. His first posting was to South West Africa (now Namibia) and after that to Louis Trichardt in the Northern Transvaal. There he met his wife-to-be, Tershia Meyer when she brought her cat in to be spayed. He was so smitten by her that he had difficulty anesthetizing the cat.
After they got married Hugo first returned to Onderstepoort to do a Masters Degree in Physiology, then returned to Louis Trichardt. There, he worked mainly with large animals and wildlife. This was a time of many bush adventures. For an extended time Hugo and his young family actually lived in the bush, as the government worked to control a foot-and-mouth outbreak. They shot for the pot; meals were cooked in a ‘potjie’ over an open fire.
When the time came to leave government service, Hugo joined a Swiss pharmaceutical company as manager of Research and Development. In 1972, Hugo led his family to Canada. It was the end of October and fresh snow had already fallen, when the immigrant family landed in Edmonton. Thus, their first task the next day was to shop for appropriate Canadian winter clothing.
Fourteen months later, the family moved to Port Alberni where in 1978, Hugo opened the Manzini Animal Hospital. In the Zulu language, manzini means place of much water, which he thought was quite appropriate for the valley they had moved to. Hugo took his professional responsibilities seriously and for many years served on the board of the BC Veterinary Medical Association and was a member of the American Animal Hospital Association.
His taste for the great outdoors was undiminished: He knew all the mountains on Vancouver Island and loved hiking and climbing with Hugo Jr., and often led groups and friends who shared his passion. He had many interests, including reading, scuba diving and collecting guns. Always however, he remained in awe of the beauty and intricacies of God’s creation.
Upon retirement in 2003, Hugo and Tershia sought a new venture in moving to Belize in Central America. They travelled with two cats and two dogs in an SUV. Driving through Mexico was an adventure in itself. In Belize, they built a bungalow and created a lovely tropical garden on an acre of cleared jungle. Besides that, there were many other interesting experiences.
After 10 years, humidity and culture fatigue had taken its toll. Hugo and Tershia (and four dogs) decided to return to the more civilized life in Port Alberni, although the journey back through Mexico would be scarier than the first one south.
Returning to Canada was a blessing, however. In Belize, Hugo would neither have been diagnosed with heart disease, nor given the medical care he needed.
Hugo is predeceased by a daughter Tracy and survived by Tershia, his wife of 56 years, sons William and Hugo Jr., daughter-in-law Alison and granddaughters Sophia and Taylor from the USA. As well, a younger brother Marthin, his wife Kathy and their children from Victoria, a sister and many cousins, nieces and nephews in South Africa, in California , England and Australia.
The family Is grateful to Drs. Wendy Johnsen and Marc Lambiotte and the Palliative nurses who compassionately cared for Hugo during this time. A special thank you too to all our family and friends who showed their love and support during a difficult time. Last but not least, thank you to Alice.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make a donation to our local SPCA. Stories, messages and condolences to the family may be offered at www.chapelofmemories.ca
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