Statement on the passing of Valencia Morrison
It is with great sadness that we share with you the tragic news of Valencia Morrison’s passing this past Friday afternoon from Covid-19-related complications. She had been in Makhanda’s Settlers Hospital for 10 days on oxygen.
Valencia was born in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape where she attended the local Mary Waters High School. After school she completed a diploma in office administration through the East Cape Midlands TVET College and joined the Legal Resources Centre in 2010.
Valencia (or Vee, VeeVee – as she was affectionately known) was the legal secretary in the Makhanda office and a cherished member of the team. She was also a dear and beloved friend to everyone here. She had a bellowing laugh that would echo through the office, brightening and lifting our spirits. She loved beautiful things; she was always elegantly dressed and accepted every compliment in this regard graciously with a huge smile and a “DANKIE!”. Valencia also had a wonderful sense of occasion that could turn a dingy office party into a grand affair. In December 2020, we resolved to have a small office get-together instead of our usual, and often elaborate, braai. VeeVee was determined to turn it into a proper Christmas lunch, bringing plates, tablecloths, and Christmas decorations from her own home. We would have been drinking from paper cups had it not been for her. She was also a talented baker, and few Christmas parties were complete without her signature peppermint crisp tart.
Vee had a soft spot for the community of Makhanda. During the strict lockdown in early 2020, she arranged for food parcels from one of the local churches to be provided to struggling members in her community. When the church initially refused as they were not part of the congregation, she drove to the church herself to pick up the parcels, not taking no for an answer. Clients frequently approached her in the community to ask for assistance and she would arrange consultations for them at the LRC, often convincing us to see them with a “Please see them – I told them we will listen to their story.” We never said no to Vee, and many of these clients saw their matter resolved because of her determination.
In our office, her desk was located near the front of the office with her smiling face greeting all who came in. She always had a soft touch with clients and went above and beyond her official tasks, often sorting out their queries herself. She answered phones, sorted out our IT problems, cranked up the generator during load-shedding, managed the petty cash, booked accommodation for visiting counsel and an endless list of other tasks that she took on and executed with passion and diligence. Nothing was too much of a hassle for Valencia. She was completely unflappable when helping a stressed-out attorney to get court documents indexed and paginated and a supplementary affidavit filed in the next 15 minutes. Her knowledge of court rules was better than most of us in the office and she saved many attorneys and CAs from filing late or defective papers. With the loss of Valencia, it feels as if our entire office is slightly out of step. So many sentences began with “Go ask Valencia…”, “We can get Vee to…”, or “Valencia will know.” She was the thread that pulled us all together and kept this ship on course. She never caused a moment’s sadness in all the years she worked with us and we will try to remember her as she was – spirited, vibrant, and keen for a laugh.
Valencia was also an incredibly proud mother to her daughters, Caitlin and Pienkie. She would tell anyone who would listen about their achievements and proudly showed us photos of matric balls, graduations, and prize-giving ceremonies. She worked very hard to make sure that her girls got every opportunity she did not have and was determined for them to go to university and achieve their dreams. During this difficult time, our thoughts are with those dearest to her; she leaves behind a close-knit immediate family that includes her mother, Pam and father, Winston, her two sisters Bronwyn and Sheila, her partner Reeve and of course, her daughters.
We will share details of bereavement arrangements as they become available.
With a very heavy heart,
LRC Makhanda regional office