We are profoundly sad to share the news of a great loss to our Wilderness Safaris family. Ron Goatley, our Zimbabwe Managing Director, passed away on Sunday after a long, very brave battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with his wife, Sue – who you will know for her own tireless work with Children in the Wilderness and our local Zambezi communities – and his family.
Wilderness CEO Keith Vincent recalls: “I have known Ron for over 27 years, working together at Wilderness Safaris since 1994. When he joined the company his first task was refurbishing the company’s (former) floating lodges at Matusadona on the shores of Lake Kariba. Then building Makalolo Plains, Little Makalolo, Linkwasha and Giraffe Springs in Hwange. In 1998, Ron became a Director of Operations, before taking the reins as Managing Director of our Zimbabwean business in 2001. Ron played a pivotal role in ensuring that we survived in those tough years during the early 2000s, and for that all of us at Wilderness Safaris will be eternally grateful.
“I will never forget those early days when we built the camps ourselves, Ron often being the most practical, and always the voice of reason and authority. Woe betide anyone in Hwange who let a waterhole dry up, a road ungraded or a firebreak unattended! His absolute dedication and love for Hwange undoubtedly contributed to the continuous conservation of this magnificent national park. His legacy in this regard will live on for many years to come, and his role as mentor to the next generation of leaders in Zimbabwe will be carried with us always. Certainly, his memory is forever etched into our Hwange camps. From a personal perspective I will never forget all the fun times our young families had together in these parts.
“In this past year I was able to spend some real quality time with Ron, Sue and friends in Hwange. Seeing his joy at being back with our staff in the camps was something to behold. But it was a trip to the furthest borehole (Amadundamela) to make sure the pump was running that made his time there.
“Ron will be deeply missed by all, from the greater community, including staff and partners across all our regions who had the fortune of meeting and working with him, to those closer to home – family, friends and colleagues – who had the joy of spending time with him on a day-to-day basis. His family can be proud of the legacy he leaves behind. I certainly know that I will greatly miss my good friend, and will value Ron’s friendship and guidance always. My only regret is that he did not see the end to the COVID crisis, which has had huge repercussions on the business and people he led so well.
“Thank you for all your hard work, my friend. Now rest in peace …”
Should you wish to pass along your condolences to the family, or share any memories you have of this Wilderness Safaris legend, you are welcome to send them to email@example.com.