Tears and memories as hundreds bid Callie farewell

Hundreds of mourners arrived at the Johannesburg Country Club on Thursday morning to say goodbye to actress Ashley Callie, who died on Friday last week.

Callie, who was known for her role as Leone Haines in the soap opera Isidingo, was involved in a car accident in Emmarentia and later died of her injuries.

“Ashley’s life motto was “Carpe Diem” [seize the day]—she saw opportunities and took them. She lived life to the full. There is no point in asking what if, or reflecting on the negative—look at the love and warmth here today,” said close family friend and Kate Turkington.

A coral-coloured rose, Ashley’s favourite colour, has been named after her.

Pumla Hopa, executive producer for the soap opera, said there would always be a gaping hole in the Isidingo family.

“How could we forget having so much but such a little of you?” she said.

“Your poise, presence and radiance lit our screens.
Ashley is among the glowing stars above us. She achieved more in her young life than most older than her.”

South African Broadcasting Corporation chief executive officer, Dali Mpofu, said millions of Isidingo fans could say that they had lost a loved one.

“I ask Ashley’s family to forgive me for treating her like public property. She was one of the people who told our stories and she did that so well in Isidingo. You were great, you touched our lives,” he said.

Local singer, Loyiso Bala, sang Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable in tribute.

“Ashley told her sister a week before she died that she wanted to buy Loyiso’s CD; she didn’t get around to it, but he is here to sing for her now,” said Turkington, who acted as the master of ceremonies.

Visibly moved, Callie’s father, Graham hugged Loyiso after he had sung.

Robert Whitehead, who plays the role of Leone’s villainous father Barker Haines, was unable to remain composed as he read William Shakespeare’s 18th sonnet Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

“Ashley was a woman of grace and style, elegant, charming, sensitive and tender. In the swamp of vulgarity we wade through, she was polished. Crisp as an apple,” he said.

“I would marvel at having such a fabulous daughter in TV land. If I did have a daughter in real life, Ashley would have been the daughter I would want. “

Unable to hold back his tears, he concluded,” I always thought she would be snatched away by Hollywood. I never dreamt she would be snatched away like this. After all is said I done, I will always wish she was still here.”

Callie is survived by her mother, Claire, father Graham, sister Lauren and brother, John. - Sapa

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