I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a few quiet tears when I heard the news that Nelson Mandela had passed on.
Having being born in South Africa under apartheid, I have tremendous admiration for what he did to and for the country.
I met the great man on quite a few occasions in the 1990s and I can tell you that each time I felt I was in the presence of someone special.
When I heard the news, I immediately phoned my wife and we discussed the impact Madiba, as he was affectionately known, had on our lives.
It was not only the way he fought for the freedom of black people in South Africa, but the way he reached out to all South Africans when he became president.
His spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness saved South Africa from even more bloodshed and hatred.
One of the great things about Mandela was his absolute love for people.
It did not matter who you were, he always seemed very pleased to meet you.
He particularly loved children and they loved him back.
He used to drive his security personnel crazy when he was President of South Africa in the 1990s.
He was forever wanting them to stop the car so that he could greet people.
His view was that he had been in prison for so many years that he wanted to make up for it.
He loved meeting new people and he had a gift for making people feel special.
I met him quite a few times at press conferences and rallies as a journalist in South Africa and although I am certain he did not remember me, he did have a profound effect on me.
I have often wondered how I would feel when he eventually died.
Well, I feel sad; very sad.
But also proud of all he did.
He was a great man and the world is the poorer for his passing.APN News & Media