Born: 22nd March 1932 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Died: 25th September 2021
Clifford (known by his family as Buddie) was the eldest son of Edgar Paxton Sobey and Iris Hilda Sobey (nee Oliphant). Because of family finances Cliff left school after standard 7 and started an apprenticeship as a Turner and Machinist with the South African Railways and Harbours (SAR&H) workshop in Langlaagte. By studying extra subjects at night school, in addition to the apprenticeship National Technical Certificate (NTC), Cliff completed NTC3, Advanced Technical Certificate (ATC) 2 and the national Engineering Diploma, with a distinction in Machine Design and Construction. Cliff then became a lecturer at the Witwatersrand Technical College.
During this time he courted and married Catherina Elizabeth Beattie (Liz). Courting involved making long weekend trips from Johannesburg to Cape Town in the 1946 Morris 8 over poor roads, sometimes having to attach a tube to the exhaust pipe so the car could go through the drifts. They were married in April 1955 and subsequently had six children. Their 66 year happy marriage has served as an excellent example to their family and those that knew them.
As he needed practical experience to get the Government Certificate of Competency (GCC), Cliff later left and worked for a short time at United Tobacco, moving on to become a Pupil Engineer at Modderfontein Dynamite factory. After obtaining the GCC he became the engineer in charge of the Modderfontein Power Station. After firstborn Bruce’s birth the salary was inadequate so Cliff moved jobs to Babcock and Wilcox in Vereeniging where Richard, Cheryl and Clifford (Cliffy) were born. The family later moved back to Johannesburg where Cliff took a job with a company manufacturing grating. The owner wanted to close it down so he started his first company, Kube Engineering, which manufactured grating. This was successful, but when they were having problems getting steel, he sold it to a large company with a mill allocation, GKN Twisteel. He also was employed by GKN as their Works Manager and Development Engineer. After a period with GKN in which he designed and manufactured a number of machines, Cliff started Clifford Engineering, a company which specialised in designing and manufacturing machines. Initially these were primarily for weldmesh, but Cliff demonstrated his unique machine design abilities, designing and building a wide range of machines such as brake testers, wire drawing machines, large mesh welding lines, etc. Cliff was widely respected in the industry, not only by his customers, but also by his opposition. Cliff retired to the USA at 66 to set up a sales office for Clifford Machinery. He finally fully retired at 75, when memory started to become a problem.
An outstanding characteristic of Cliff was his humility and helpfulness. His life reflected his strong Christian faith and he was much loved by all. Over the years he led a number of Bible study groups and church fellowships and was a trustworthy advisor. He loved music and singing. He enjoyed exploring and walking - especially in the magnificent Drakensberg mountains. In recent years, though tormented by memory loss and diminishing capacity, he remained grateful. He is survived by his wife, six children, thirteen grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren! He will be sorely missed. Graveside services will be held half Past 10, 10:30 am on Tuesday at Maple Grove Cemetery. Online condolences and more can be made at Kirbyfuneralservices.com. Please keep the family and friends in your prayers.
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