Well-known Aberdeen resident Ralph Krall was killed in an accident on Thursday 19 July whilst driving to Graaff-Reinet.
According to an eye witness, about 13km from Aberdeen Krall’s Mahindra SUV went into the barrier on the left hand side of the road, skidded along it for about 30m, then swerved across the road, rolled, and ended up on its side. No other vehicle was involved.
The accident happened at about 12:15, and passing motorists, including two MTN employees from Mossel Bay who had first aid training, stopped and did what they could to help. Members of SAPS and the traffic police were on the scene within 15 minutes, and found Krall still in the car, bleeding profusely. He was taken by private ambulance to Graaff-Reinet.
Arrangements were made for the critically injured man to be airlifted to Port Elizabeth, but tragically he died in Midland Hospital from his serious head injuries.
It later came to light that he had asked two other friends to go with him to Graaff-Reinet, but fortuitously they both declined, and he was alone in the car.
Ralph Krall moved to Aberdeen with his partner, Daniel Pechine, six years ago.
Originally from Dusseldorf in Germany, he worked in Switzerland as a hairdresser before emigrating to Cape Town in 1960 where he continued with his trade. In 1966 he opened his own hairdressing salon in Fish Hoek, and it became the “in” place to go for the stylish people of Cape Town. He moved to Cape Town CBD in 1973, where he became very involved with preparing models for fashion shoots as well as his regular clientele.
Krall always had a passion for interior design, and it was a standing joke amongst his friends in Cape Town that if Ralph came to dinner, he would always reposition at least one piece of furniture to where he considered it would be better suited!
He travelled extensively for many years, and during a trip to India in 1982 he was told that he would soon have a major change in his life. This was fulfilled more quickly than he expected, as on his return to Cape Town, somebody walked into his hairdressing salon and wanted to buy it. He then decided to open an antique and décor shop, originally in Kenilworth and then centrally, and was often asked by customers to design and arrange a room or even their whole house. As he never really enjoyed being a shopkeeper, he soon gave up the shop and worked full-time as an interior designer. Krall had no formal training, but just a natural eye for design and placement. He was responsible for the décor in all the Royal Portfolio group of luxury hotels, as well as many other upmarket establishments. The house that he shared with Pechine on the slopes of Table Mountain appeared in magazines, and was even featured on Top Billing. He was known by most influential people in Cape Town, and the couple moved in social circles including people such as the late Professor Christiaan Barnard and his wife.
Krall’s work was known internationally, and he completed commissions all over the world, including Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles, Florence, the French Riviera and Dubai. In recent years however his health had deteriorated, and he had to decline invitations to Los Angeles and Jaipur this year.
When Krall first saw Carmen Villa in Aberdeen, he thought it would be perfect to hold all the wonderful pieces of furniture and art that he had collected from all over the world. He worked on the house for six months before moving to Aberdeen, establishing a garden and rewiring the house completely.
He did not tolerate mediocrity, and soon after his arrival in Aberdeen he expressed his displeasure vociferously at inefficiency and slow service delivery that he saw in the town. He was outspoken and in Pechine’s words, “totally larger than life”, and made his views known in no uncertain terms.
About four years ago he opened a gallery in Graaff-Reinet to display some of his treasures, but his heart was not really in it and he closed the shop last year, preferring to allow potential customers to view items in his home, by appointment.
As well as his design commissions, he also drew, and was working towards an exhibition later this year. He was vehemently against fracking and other environmental pollutants, and expressed this in his work. Pechine now plans to hold an exhibition of Ralph’s works, in his memory, in Cape Town.
Krall loved the Karoo, the serenity, the scenery, his garden, his dogs, and the kindness he found in so many people.
He was frustrated by his failing health, and according to his partner had said many times in the past year that he was ready to die. His body was beginning to fail him, and he would have hated to become an invalid dependent on others.” In the end, he died as he had lived- spectacularly” said Pechine.
He leaves a niece, Judith, who lives in Cape Town, with whom he has always had a very close relationship, and another niece in Germany. Krall did not want any memorial service, but Pechine and Judith will scatter his ashes over the ocean in Cape Town.
“He was the most considerate, loving, outrageous and unusual man” concluded Pechine.