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A spectacular sunset with solar pillar
taken from the entrance of Bruynzeel House - Photo by Klaus
In memoriam Klaus Breuer1968 - 2013
Author of Computer booksI would love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code
Klaus was born into an adventure and book loving German family on 23 April 1968 in Saskatoon, Canada, where his father, Hans Breuer, was professor of Physics at the University of Saskatchewan and his mother a graduate student in Romance languages.
A week after his 45th birthday, our beloved, fun loving son Klaus died of a brain tumor on 30 April 2013 at Munich, Germany, leaving behind his daughter Ronja, his wife Maggie Fang Wan, his parents Hans and Rosemarie Breuer and his brothers Hannes and Florian, his cat Raff and many grieving friends.
Klaus has lived an amazingly full life, cramming several lives in those 45 years (as our friend Anny described it). He enjoyed himself greatly doing the work he liked best: programming, writing books and assembling witty photo-books of his many travels and - of course - of his daughter Ronja, whom he adored. Also striking was that he did remarkably little swearing in front of his computer. He was charming and obliging and loved to make people smile. His favourite sports were sailing, snorkelling and Karate.
When only 6 weeks old, his parents took him on his first camping trip to the Prince Albert National Park, 3 hours drive north of Saskatoon. They took him along to Yellowstone Park and Nevada, over the Rockies to Vancouver and even, when he was just 14 months old, to Germany and a trip around the Mediterranean to Tunisia and all over Libya. This baby (by then his nickname was Piffpaff) sure moved around!
Shortly before his brother Hannes was born in 1970, the family moved to Pennsylvania. Two long trips to Florida followed.
Klaus was 3 and a half years old, when his parents fulfilled their dream of buying a sailing yacht, KAJEN (A De Vries-Lentsch design steel yacht 58 feet long). 5 years of glorious sailing and life aboard followed. They sailed from Portugal via Spain and Gibraltar into the Mediterranean and to Morocco, Canary Islands, down the West Coast of Africa to Dakar, Senegal, and Gambia, crossing the Atlantic from Dakar to Martinique and the lesser Antilles. The family stayed long wherever they were happy. His father kept writing Science books and from 4 years Piffpaff received his mother's Kindergarten tuition (never more than 30 - 60 minutes a day), also once in a while attending local schools. The result of this private tuition: Klaus was able to read and write beautifully, when he was 5, he and his brother had learned many long poems, math, playing the flute and many more things. When Klaus turned six, he was into his third Enid Blyton novel. He remained an avid reader for the rest of his life, preferably literature on science fiction, history, biographies by yachtsmen - and not to forget - comics.
Frans Bengtson, The Long Ships: A Saga of the Viking Age (Röde Orm), Science and Science Fiction.
In 1976 the family moved to Germany and Austria, where they lived in the lower floor of enchanting Urschendorf castle. In 1981 the family immigrated from Germany to South Africa: Stellenbosch, where the family bought the beautiful Bruynzeel House - living in paradise.
At the age of 15, Klaus was bitten by the computer bug, spurred on by his friend Tom Blok. A year later he wrote a text book on a computer language (Basic).
Klaus matriculated from Paul Roos Gymnasium in 1985. He studied Physics and Computer Sciences at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Berlin and Geography at the University of Erlangen. In between he worked often as a programmer and from 1990 he and Hannes founded their own programming company.
The Proteus Team, 1992-96: Together with his father and brothers, Klaus (as the main programmer) created a proton therapy planning program, which remained for many years the most advanced program of its kind. The story of this venture and how the project was sabotaged by jealous colleagues still needs to be told. (It turned out the man who was paid well for a review on the validity of the program, never opened the computer to try it out!) The fact is, this could have been another of medical firsts in South Africa.
After a year in California, Klaus joined an IT company in Munich, Germany.
To keep a long story short: in 2003, it was found that he had a slow growing, but rather large tumor in the brain.
In April 2006 his daughter Ronja was born. Klaus surprised himself by being absolutely delighted with her - she certainly deserved his adoration. Her mother remained a good friend.
Klaus fell in love with our friend Maggie Wang Fan, a mathematics student at Stellenbosch University. She followed him to Germany, where they married in September 2008. Alas, their happiness lasted too short a time.
Klaus never stopped travelling to many countries and continents, often together with his brothers or his parents. He went to see his best friend, Vernon, and his family in Perth, Australia, twice. The second time, Maggie came along. His last trip - in October 2012, took him to Malta with his wife, brothers and their friend Thomas, shortly after his third operation.
He gave his body to the medical faculty of Munich university. In his testament he forbade the usual funeral, he didn't want any fuss in dark clothes, but begged us to rather have a happy party celebrating his memory - with the usual stuff he liked: bubbly, good things to eat and jelly beans.
When he died, Maggie sat next to him, playing his favourite music.
"I held his hand and told him: "goodbye my love, you are the one. You are my gladiator, you fought so well. It is my honour to accompany you to the end. If there is light, this time please do look into it." (Every time he was pushed into the operation room, I told him:"Do Not look into the light, if there is any, it is not your time yet." He always came out of it just fine.)
He went peacefully."
Die Basic Fibel (with Hans Breuer), BI-Wissenschaftsverlag, Mannheim, Germany, 1986
MechWar (successful Shareware strategy game, Internet)
The (Un)official Duke Nukem 3D Editing FAQ (Internet, on v1.3 game CD)
The Unofficial Unreal Editing FAQ (Internet)
Segeln mit Piff und Mauz - 5 Jahre an Bord SY KAJEN (Editor), 2010
Computerspiele programmieren: Künstliche Intelligenz für künstliche Gehirne, Oldenbourg Verlag, München, 2012
, Oldenbourg Verlag, München, 2012
In preparation: the English translation
Klaus' Windows conversion of the excellent Macintosh game from 1984: Learn programming with Chipwits
By the way: Klaus is 'Zettelwitz the Wizard' in his mother's children's book in 3 languages (so far),
Zauberer Zettelwitz vom Tafelberg - Table Mountain Wizard - Die Towenaar van Tafelberg (first published in 2010 and 2011)
His mother published a book on Klaus' life: Klaus die Frohnatur
Klaus and Maggie were married in 2008
Klaus and Ronja
An English translation of the poem, "Es sitzt ein Vogel auf dem Leim" by Wilhelm Busch
There sat a bird stuck in a trapper's glue - this poem was written in 1874, a time when people caught birds by spreading glue on branches.
Memories of Klaus Breuer
23.4.1968 - 30.4. 2013
Schöne Tage - nicht weinen, dass sie vergangen, sondern lächeln, dass sie gewesen.
(Beautiful days - do not cry that they passed but smile that they have been
Wer im Gedächtnis seiner Lieben lebt, der ist nicht tot, der ist nur fern; tot ist nur, wer vergessen wird.
Klaus has left us at 3:48pm yesterday (30.04.2013). He was fast asleep when I got there. I brought him his favorite music. I sat by his site and talked to him about my day, the people I met, the things that happened, just like I did everyday. While the song "Hallelujah" from Shrek was playing, he stopped breathing. I held his hand and told him: "goodbye my love, you are the one. You are my gladiator, you fought so well. It is my honour to accompany you to this end. If there is light, this time please do look into it." (Every time he was pushed into the operation room, I told him:"Do Not look into the light, if there is any, it is not your time yet." He always came out of it just fine.) He went very peacefully.
We had a long time to prepare for this day and we had often talked about it: Klaus does not want any funeral arrangement or anything to do with sadness and despair. He wants his body donated to medical research. He often said: "I had a damn good life. When the time comes, you should rather celebrate my life, have a party and drink on my memory. My death is not the end, a new door opens for you all." So that's what I did yesterday, I opened a bottle of champagne and cheered him.
Please do feel sad but NOT for long, because tomorrow is going to be a beautiful day.
Our fun loving son liked banter and jokes (and T-shirts:), but he could also be most considerate and serious. When we needed it, we could rely on Klaus to give us well-considered advice. He also wrote a lucid, witty style, which made his last computer book a success.
Klaus was very keen and intelligent. Whatever interested him and he cared to learn, he did it in no time. Fortunately he was interested in many things, especially in computing and natural sciences.
Ich bin mächtig stolz auf Dich, mein großer Bruder! Du hast im Leben so viel erreicht und erlebt. Du hast 5 Jahre auf einer Yacht gelebt. Bist weit gereist: Europa, USA, Kanada, Australien, Südafrika, Orange River, Türkei, Malta... bist in Kalifornien mit einem 1968 Mustang gefahren. Du hast mehrere sehr gute Bücher geschrieben, hast super programmiert (Proteus!), hast eine tolle Frau geheiratet, und vor Allem hast Du eine ganz besonders niedliche Tochter!
(I'm so proud of you, my big brother! You have achieved so much in life and experienced a lot. You have lived 5 years on a yacht. You've travelled widely: Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Orange River, Turkey, Malta ... You drove a 1968 Mustang in California. You've published very good books, you are a great programmer (Proteus!), you married a great woman, and, above all, you have a particularly cute daughter!)
Klaus hat uns allen etwas geschenkt, das wie ein Edelstein im Leben aller seiner Freunde und Familie war. und für jeden etwas anderes. Nun ist da die Leere, die so weh tut - auch wenn ich wie alle anderen versuche, an das Schöne mit ihm zu denken , kommt der Verlust umso stärker und schmerzlicher. Klaus war nicht nur Frohnatur, er war ein Freund, wie man ihn sich vorstellt.
Klaus lived a very exciting and full life, and although we are very sad that he is no longer with us, we complied with his request. Instead of mourning his death, we tried to celebrate his life. We opened a bottle of bubbly, and drank a toast to a life well lived.
Somebody once told me, "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting GERONIMO!" I think Klaus lived by that. He's been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.
He also had an amazing ability to spread smiles wherever he went. Would do almost anything to make you smile, and was always keen for a good joke. We will miss him.
How do you encapsulate a life so rich and well lived? Klaus was so much more than we can ever define with words. He did so much more than most of us, he experienced it all, he loved it all. He lived life, to the full. There are days I envy his attitude to life. He was so spontaneous, capable of spending his last coin on a trip to see somebody, or a gift for a friend. Where I constantly worry and fret about tomorrow, he seemed able to put such petty concerns aside.
On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 2:16 PM, Vernon Everett wrote:
... We get updates from Maggie from time to time about how Klaus is progressing. She is a strong woman, and absolutely wonderful to him. Sometimes I wonder how she manages. I sometimes feel so very guilty about poor Klaus. I feel I should be there for him, to amuse him, and talk to him, give him a shoulder to lean on so he doesn't fall.
It saddens me that it has come to this. Klaus is not just my friend, he was also my mentor back in the early days. He taught me so much about computers, and life in general. And now, he struggles to just stand. It is unfair that such a wonderful mind should have to go through this. Is he still in good spirits? I would probably have descended into manic depression by now, but I know Klaus is made of tougher stuff. For him the frustration must be the inability to communicate. His mind has always been full of ideas and interesting thoughts, and the inability to articulate these thoughts must be maddening. We used to sit for hours just discussion ideas and joking around, making puns and really just having fun talking. To be robbed of that, it would drive me crazy, for sure. Maggie paints a positive picture when we talk to her, but I am sure it's difficult all round, and not quite as rosy as she depicts it. I still want to find somebody who will translate Klaus's book into English. Do you know anybody up to the task? I kept telling him I wanted a signed first edition of the English version. :-) He kept assuring me I would. I guess the signing isn't going to happen anytime soon. :-( Vernon Everett
It is a dreadful tragedy for parents to lose a son and so gifted a son! I am so sorry that Klaus had to go through his terrible ordeal. Nadya forwarded to us Maggie's beautiful letter. What a courageous woman! Klaus was lucky to have such a valiant, caring and devoted wife, but also to have enjoyed such an exciting life, a thrilling boyhood onboard a beautiful ship, a stimulating time in various countries, a gorgeous daughter and a loving wife and to crown it all, the satisfaction of having finished his book. What a talented young man! He was young but he crammed several lives in his 45 years.
Klaus' Lebenslauf zeichnet das Bild eines uns allen viel zu früh entrissenen, brillianten Geistes und bringt auch seine sanfte, liebenswerte Natur zum Ausdruck (vieles war auch mir nicht bekannt, obwohl wir 8 Jahre zusammen waren und uns noch länger kannten!)..
Er hat uns alle so geprägt mit seinem Charakter, daß kaum ein Tag vergeht, an dem man nicht an ihn erinnert wird, Stichwort Katzen, Süßigkeiten, Segelschiffe, Science fiction, Computer, lustige T-shirts, gute Filme, gutes Essen, philosophieren, sinnieren, genießen und relaxen mit allen Sinnen..always look on the bright side...
Wie Albus Dumbledore es ausdrückte: "After all, for the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure". Nun, einen "well organised mind" hatte Klaus und vor einem neuen Abenteuer ist er auch nie zurückgescheut.
Wir sollten dankbar sein, daß er von der Last seiner irdischen Hülle erlöst ist und für all die Freude und "Variatio", die er in unser aller Leben gebracht hat. Seine Inspiration und Liebe wird uns unglaublich fehlen, aber auch für immer ergänzen.
We should be grateful that he is delivered from the burden of his earthly shell and for all the joy and "variations" that he has brought into our lives.
www.StellenboschWriters.com © Rosemarie Breuer