Johannes Hendricus Brand Reitz

Johannes Hendricus Brand Reitz. He was born in Bloemfontein on February 14, 1887 and died on his farm in the Bloemfontein district, Elswar, on July 19, 1954. He was the youngest child of the President by his first wife who died seven months after his birth. He was christened after President Brand, his father's predecessor.
Jack Reitz grew up in a home where service to the community, love for the developing Afrikaans language, and interest in the judicature made an indelible impression on him. When his father, President F.W. Reitz, resigned for health reasons at the end of 1895 and left for Cape Town, he and three elder brothers, Hjalmar, Deneys, and Arend remained in Bloemfontein to complete their education at Grey College.
When the Second Anglo-Boer War broke out in October 1899, Jack went to Pretoria where the Reitz family had settled two years before. As a young boy he served in the civilian police and afterwards on an ambulance train. His thirteenth birthday was spent at Ladysmith which was then still besieged by the Boers.
In May 1900 Jack, his stepmother and younger brothers were sent to Delagoa Bay and from there left for the Netherlands at the end of that year (1900). Here he continued his schooling in Delft. By the end of 1903 he had returned to South Africa, and continued his studies at the Cape Town Normal College. After this he settled in Bloemfontein where in 1905 he became articled as an attorney's clerk to a friend of the family, A. Fischer. Later he practiced for approximately fifteen months as an attorney at Fauresmith.
In 1911 or thereabouts he returned to Bloemfontein as the partner of W.J.C. Brebner, the firm Brebner and Reitz expanding into one of the leading firms of its kind in the Free State capital.
Jack had always shown a lively interest in public life and politics. At first he gave valuable service at the municipal level: he was a town councillor of Bloemfontein from 1916 to 1923, Mayor in 1921 and in the same year also chairman of the Free State Municipal Association.
His fine sense of humour, humane feelings and simplicity, characteristics typical also of his father and grandfather, made him a popular personality well known in the Free State. In Politics he became an enthusiastic supporter of the Orangia-Unie after the Free State had obtained self-government in 1907, and he was made honorary secretary of the Bloemfontein branch. His political career started in earnest in August 1924 when he was elected to the Provincial Council as the member for Bloemfontein East.
He subsequently represented Bloemfontein West and was on the Council until 1943, for some time chairman as well. From 1940 to 1943 he served on the Executive Committee. Although Jack initially supported General J.C. Smuts, he followed General J.B.M. Hertzog during the political schism of 1939, and after Hertzog had resigned from politics, Jack caused a political sensation by switching allegiance and joining the Nationalist Party - a move which gained his election as a Senator of the South African Parliament in 1947. He held this position until his death in 1954. The last years of his life were marked by ill health.
Jack Reitz's services to the community covered a wide field. He was particularly interested in education, being chairman of the council of the University of the Orange Free State for eleven years, member of the council of the Bloemfontein Normal College (Teachers' Training College), chairman of the school committee of Grey College, and a member of the school committee of Eunice Girls' School. He was in addition chairman of the Bloemfontein national Hospital Board and of the Free State Law Society. In Bloemfontein there are photographs of Jack Reitz in the city hall and the Nasionale Afrikaanse Letterkunde-museum.
He married, late in life, on May 28, 1913, Sybella Margaretha (Billy) Morkel, (born on October 1, 1875 and died in Bloemfontein on August 31, 1960).

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