South African golfing legend, Gary Player, has shared a moving tribute to his beloved wife Vivienne (‘Viv’), who died this week from cancer. He said “the unthinkable has happened”. Player may have accumulated a mountain of international golfing championships, but the sports star’s biggest win in life was a lifetime shared with his childhood sweetheart.
Player first broke the news that his wife had pancreatic cancer in August last year. She had been operated on and treated at world-leading Issels Medical Center in California, USA. At the time her results were promising, and she seemed on her way to recovery. But yesterday, Player announced:
“The unthinkable has happened. My wife of 64 years, my childhood sweetheart, my rock, and my soulmate Vivienne has lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.
“I cannot describe the deep sense of sadness I feel at having lost the one person who has always meant the world to me. Vivienne has been a constant in my life from the moment I first set eyes on her when I was 14.”
Gary proposed to Viv Verwey when he was 15, “and we never looked back”. They celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary earlier this year. Gary’s tribute yesterday continued:
“She fully supported my career and raised our six children almost single-handedly while I was touring the world playing golf. She was a devoted wife, a loving mother, grandmother (to their 22 grandchildren), great grandmother (to two great-grandchildren), and a wonderful human being who cared so deeply for others and lived her life in service to others.”
Viv and the children accompanied Player on some of his excursions, with her acting as tutor. Her brother was professional golfer Bobby Verwey, whose tournament wins included the 1991 Senior British Open. Player concluded his tribute, saying:
“Vivienne taught me the value of love, faith and trust. She taught our children those same values, and they were blessed to have a mother who lived those values every single day.
When we first met, I had no doubt it was love at first sight and it turned out to be a love story of a lifetime. I believe it will also be so when we are finally together again.
Until then, I will miss my Viv dearly.”
Statement of Gary Player on the passing of his wife, Vivienne. pic.twitter.com/Qg7pDbYBub
— GARY PLAYER (@garyplayer) August 18, 2021