His sudden death, resulting from an apparent flu that rapidly degenerated to pneumonia, came as a huge shock to many friends and former colleagues who knew him to be extremely fit. “This is a man who could run marathons, a triathlete, it just doesn’t make any sense how he could be taken from us so suddenly,” said ADZ’s Mike Langton.
Boekholt was in Hong Kong visiting his wife’s family over the Christmas period when he fell ill. He lived with wife Adelina and daughter Shan in his hometown of Wellington, New Zealand, where he had set up his own businesses Fluent and Memento Productions.
He was best known amongst Asia’s advertising community for his nine years with Bates Advertising where he worked with the likes of Chris Jaques, David Mayo, Steve Elrick, Graham Kelly and Matthew Godfrey.
Tributes have poured in from around the world, all united in their praise of Boekholt as, in Steve Elrick’s words, a "rather special, admirable, human being".
“When I told my wife Tracy the terrible news about Mike, she reminded me of something that I had forgotten. I cited Mike as one of the few people I have met that have made me want to be a better person… There’s that famous truism: No-one’s last words were ever ‘I wish I had spent more time at work’. And Mike, though his time was tragically, unfairly, infuriatingly short - at least he seemed to understand this quicker than any of us. And actually acted on it.
Though it’s a throwaway compliment, a banality even; Mike was a ‘Good Guy’ doesn’t seem to do him justice and yet at the same time describes him exactly.
He knew who he was - and made no apologies about it (not that he ever needed to) and was a man very confident in his own skin. And that’s actually a pretty rare thing.” Steve Elrick, BBH.
“Mike always had a way of looking at the world from very different angles from most people. If we were sitting together at lunch you'd catch him staring at something as if he was day-dreaming. When I'd asked him what he was looking at, it would always be an interesting way a few objects were juxtaposed or how colours came together to form something new.. perhaps a tree and a cloud floating above, a hard edge building and a flower, a person sitting next to a statue. He'd always see beauty around him that I would simply overlook and never see. I always was envious how he would observe the world. It was a gift he had.” Matthew Godfrey, Y&R.
“In my house - fittingly where we keep the things that develop our creative minds like toys and board games - is a large cabinet that arrived at our house with a ribbon around it in November 1996....a wedding present from Mike and Adelina....so big, it wouldn't go up the stairs..;-))...that was Mike - generous, creative, spontaneous...a true gentleman in the real sense of the word....we are reminded of him every day. Thoughts be of him and with those he left behind.” David Mayo, Ogilvy & Mather.
A Facebook page, Celebrating the life of Mike Boekholt, has been set up in his honour.
“Celebrating the life of Mike Boekholt, a wonderful man with a beautiful outlook on life, an extraordinary creative mind, and a huge love of life, his family and friends. Let's celebrate Mike's wonderful life and give Adelina and Shan all the love and support they are going to need,” it reads.
His many friends are contributing, and raising donations to help Boekholt’s family financially. “Please help Adelina & Shan financially as Mike didn't plan to die at 46. Shan's school fees are key. Mike's emergency hospital care, repatriation and funeral expenses will be high.”
To send funds, email: [email protected]