To the ones who loved him, Pieter will be remembered as both devoted and determined. Devoted to what he believed mattered and determined to see it make a positive change in the world. This not only guided his own life, but also the lives of those he impacted as family, friend, coach, supervisor and mentor. A great leader passes the baton, and he did. He kindled a fire, fanned the flame, and excited others to continue. His legacy will have a lasting impact on the environment of South Africa. Another quality of Pieter that marked the lives of those who outlived him was his generosity. He not only loved to host but he did so generously. He took pleasure in investing his time, money and energy in his family, friends, colleagues and students.

As a soil scientist, he was a visionary who managed to bridge his research into practical applications. He was the South African father of hydropedology, the study focusing on the interactive relationship between soil morphology and of water movement through the soil/landscape. He built a research career around the subject, but also tenaciously promoted its importance to see hydropedological studies become part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legislation in South Africa. To serve the hydropedological studies, he initiated research into digital soil mapping whereby large areas of land could be mapped at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional surveys, after hearing Malcolm Hensley say, “There has got to be an easier way of doing soil surveys.” Both fields are now part of the research and consultation landscape in South Africa. Additionally, he pushed for reform of the soil classification system, playing a major role in the “open-ended” system now in use in the South African Soil Classification System.

Pieter loved training students, both in the classroom and by spending time with them in the field. He had a unique skill of recognising and nurturing talent, to bring out the best from his students. He could (and would on occasion) spend hours discussing the water movement within a single soil profile, and he rarely drove past a hillslope seep without stopping for some discussion and taking pictures. He was passionate to instil “T-shaped” skills into his students, knowing that academic knowledge (the vertical) must be supported by leadership, management and ethical capabilities (the horizontal).  His expertise in bringing out the best in students lead to three (out of four at the time) of his PhD students being awarded with the Prestige PhD scholarship at the UFS, a university wide scholarship, which as the name suggests was quite prestigious. He lectured undergraduate and postgrad courses at the UFS from 1981, with generations of students receiving lectures from “Attie Karate”, a reference to his many accomplishments as a karateka, in which he rose to an 8th dan.

During Pieter’s career he published 61 peer reviewed papers, three book chapters, authored and co-authored three books, presented at 114 international and local conferences and supervised or co-supervised 10 MSc and 10 PhD students. He was a recognised researcher with a C2 NRF rating. The bulk of this work was done between 2004 and his retirement as full professor from the University of the Free State in 2015. He served on the board of the Soil Science Society of South Africa for 8 years, being the president between 2013 and 2014. He was a member of the Soil Classification Working Group from 1998 to 2019, serving as the co-ordinator between 2015 and 2016. Probably his greatest contribution to soil classification in South Africa was the initiation of the South African Soil Surveyors Organisation (SASSO) in 2002, which organises quarterly field trips all over South Africa, allowing for soil surveyors to get acquainted with soils from different regions.

Pieter was a man of action, more than words.  He mentioned having a dream of starting a consulting company at the Combined Congress in 2012. Not long thereafter we heard he had registered Digital Soils Africa (DSA) as a company and which started consulting later that year.

As mentioned before, Pieter was very generous. As students we had a rule of thumb to determine what was an acceptable food budget when on field trips. We divided what Pieter would have spent by two, and still ate royally.  He also made a way for many students to attend international conferences to gain experience, the cost of which  I am only appreciating now with my own students.

He was also generous with his time. Upon returning from a field trip, I mentioned to him that I needed to move a washing machine and in my ignorance (or stupidity) I thought I could do it alone. Despite being tired and wanting to go home, Pieter just calmly mentioned that he would quickly (which turned out to be quite a long time) help me, and never once mentioned that I actually needed more than one person, even though it was blatantly obvious after some time that we rather required three persons for the job.

Pieters love of golf was well known. He always tried to work in a round of golf when travelling for conferences and field work. On occasion he very kindly brought his second bag of clubs along for me to play with, as I did not have my own. Many will have fond memories of playing at Skukuza Golf course with him.

Pieter was a devout Christian, who loved God and lived out that love. During his last days, despite being in pain and having a cloudy mind brought about by the cancer, he always said it was going well, and then mentioned that it was the time when he has been closest to God.

Through his investment in his students through time, effort and money, some of us became both his friends and colleagues. He will be sorely missed. Not just for a quick phone call to get a unique (and often accurate) opinion on some confusing soil data, but also for his stories, golf games, genuine concern for our wellbeing, and inevitably, some hydropedological discussion. In my last conversation with him he told me that the doctors told him that he did not have much time left  and that he will go before and wait for us on the other side (heaven). I look forward to the day.