It is with deep regret and sadness that we announce the passing of Thomas Wiese (56) in August 2020. Thomas was well-known to most of us in the foundry industry, especially to those on the aluminium side.
Born in 1964 in Düsseldorf, Germany, Thomas started his career in the foundry and related industries in 1984 when he joined Austrian company Rath AG, a specialist manufacturer of refractories. Thomas soon became involved in international sales and South Africa fell under his responsibility. At the time Metallurg South Africa (now Insimbi Alloy Supplies) represented the company in South Africa.
Thomas loved to travel internationally and South Africa became a favourite destination for him. He loved the lifestyle so much that in 2001 he convinced the management of Metallurg South Africa and Rath AG to set up a joint venture and start manufacturing vacuum formed products for the metals, foundry and allied industries, locally and for the rest of Africa. Thomas oversaw the setup of the production plant to manufacture vacuum formed products for the metals, foundry and allied industries, locally and for the rest of Africa. Thomas soon moved to South Africa to run the joint venture company, which was later incorporated into Metallurg South Africa.
By this time Thomas had already put down roots in South Africa and continued to work for Metallurg South Africa before starting up on his own, representing international companies, mainly German, and selling their product into the foundry, refractory, aluminium and steel industries in South Africa.
His career would later see him promote these products and others to the industries in the Middle East, India and China – another excuse for Thomas to explore the world.
As a native of Düsseldorf, Thomas had property in the city but he was more renowned for being the ‘travel agent’ for South Africans that attended the GIFA exhibition in Düsseldorf every four years. Through his association with the city he would organise for South Africans to stay at the Weiss Blaues Haus Bar / Pub, which is also a small hotel, located in Nordstrabe, Düsseldorf. Many memories have emanated from these visits but all have stayed on tour.
Many of Thomas’s colleagues also became his friends and all have nothing but praise to say about him. A gentleman, always willing to assist, very welcoming and very sociable are just a few phrases that refer to Thomas’s character.
“He really made you feel at home and relaxed when you were in his company,” said Mike Retief, who had an association and friendship with Thomas for over 30 years.
Later on in life, Tim Jenks came into Thomas’s life and in a tribute to Thomas this is what Tim wrote:
“My Best Buddy – Thank you for coming into my life and in particular for the very special friendship that we shared over the years.”
“You were a one-of-a-kind person on this planet of ours – always so caring and supportive of those around you. Your forever positive and fun-loving attitude along with your zest for life, which you filled to capacity. I salute you for it.”
“We shared so many wonderful and memorable times along with the sharing of deeply personal aspects in our lives that we would not have done with others – the sign of a true, trusting and lasting friendship.”
“Although you’re no longer with us in body, those special times, along with the warmth of our friendship, will remain with me.”
His life partner, Heather says: “Thomas was the love of my life. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to share his dreams, hopes, love, friendship and much more. Thomas loved unconditionally, shared and cared, and put a smile on people’s faces. He was so full of life. My ‘travelling man’ loved seeing the world and meeting new people. Thomas sorely missed flying during lockdown when COVID-19 grounded him – but I am sure he is travelling now. A light has gone out in my life, but when I see the stars at night, I feel that he is amongst them. I believed that I would spend the rest of my life with him. I now realise that he spent the rest of his life with me. I will hold his love in my heart with all our memories together.”
“On his passing, his mother said to me that it was raining in Germany and that there was a huge rainbow in front of their home. She said, “Heather, look! The sky has become more colourful now that Thomas is there.” He was indeed a colourful character.”
Thomas is survived by his mother Sigrid and sister Birgit, both of whom live in Germany.
Thomas will be greatly missed by his family, his ex-colleagues in South Africa, his long-standing friends and everyone who knew him. RIP Thomas.