Class of 1971: What did they do after school?

This blog was written by the pupils of the Class of 1971 themselves. It would be great to hear from everybody. Two photos of Then and Now would also be super. There are no rules about how much or how little you would like to share or indeed what you would to include. The latest submissions will be included at the top of the blog thereby making the unread entries at the top of the blog.  

Main picture: Montage of Class of ’71’s Assembly & Service Program as well as the Valedictory Address and Signatures [Thanks to Sonia Slement (Venter)]

Margie Saunders (McAll) – post matric years

Margie Saunders – Alex tennis tour1970

My years immediately post ’71 were somewhat “fragmented” for a few reasons: my early marriage at the age of 20 (eish!) then moving to Gauteng with my husband, and then the birth of my two daughters in 1975 and 1977. Consequently my B Pharm studies before, after and during these milestones were equally fragmented.

Mother and daughter run on the lighthouse trail

Sadly, I was divorced when my girls were very young (2 years and 6 months respectively) and, since it was no longer tenable to work in my husband’s pharmacy (and retail pharmacy is so repetitive and boring), I began my 20 year-long career in the pharmaceutical industry. My special interest was in Research and Development, implementation and monitoring of local drug trials and training pharmaceutical reps on new products. I then “moved on” to the medical scheme administration world where my key responsibilities included, inter alia: Clinical Risk Management (especially specialist referrals and patterns); establishing a Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) department and developing a drug formulary; setting up and managing scheme-owned medical centres around the country. After nearly 11 very rewarding years, I was approached by a national hospital group to run their emergency medicine department that managed approximately 25 medical schemes’ emergency medicine benefits (both locally and internationally). I was persuaded to stay on after retirement age to project manage the set-up of Discovery’s Health’s international emergency benefit.

Where we retired in 2017

Having remarried in 1989 (Brian was my running training partner for many years) and, having resided in PE for most of my career but travelled to Gauteng many weeks each month, we decided in 2017 to sell our home in Summerstrand and build our retirement home in Cape St Francis (luckily our “laatlammetjie” son is an architect). After nearly four years here, I still need to pinch myself when running around the lighthouse and Seal Point and back home along the beach (all you surfers eat your hearts out).

My son aka Brian Junior

(Dean – this is for you – please remember that you told me not to hold back). Whilst I enjoyed sport at school, I did very little post-matric – mainly recreational tennis and squash. In my early thirties I returned to competitive swimming and competed at SA Masters (6 gold medals and 4 SA age group records). I then decided that I would like to participate in triathlons but needed to learn to run. To cut a long story short, I started with a half marathon (21.1km) and then found myself in an EP team and from then on running dominated my sport for many years. My key running achievements were: a national ranking for marathon in my forties (2:58), my two Comrades (both silver medals / top 10 SA ladies), age group wins at SA champs (all distances) and Two Oceans (56km and 21.1km), SA 60+ age group records (15km – 64.01, 21.1km – 1:30, 42.2km – 3:15) and a 60+ world best for 30km (2:20).

Margie Saunders – En route to my World best 60+ 30km

Somewhere in between all this I (eventually) started doing triathlons and, whilst cycling is definitely my weakest discipline, managed to win two age group half Ironman events and win a gold medal at World triathlon champs. My favourite multi-disciplinary event is a run-swim-run event (yay no cycling handicap) and I was fortunate to participate in and win a few world champs events.

My eldest daughter and eldest grandson in Vanuatu

A “minor hiccup” during my competitive years was being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, but I was fortunate that my fitness and general health helped me through 6 months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It took a few years to get back to my pre CA fitness, but given that my running has always been my stress reliever, it helped me through a challenging period.

With my youngest daughter and oldest grandchild in Dublin
Brian and I after a long swim in the canals

For those of you that have been to Cape St Francis, you will know that our roads are not conducive to road bikes and I now only mountain bike (albeit that it is not my first love) in between running and swimming. My husband and I are fortunate to be able to train with a masters swimming group in our local pool and in the canals and of course Seal Point beach is on our doorstep. We have been privileged to complete two 12 to 14km swims in the Kromme River together with local and other Eastern Cape swimmers.

Margie Saunders – 2013 World Triathlon champs

My husband and I have five children between us – we each have two daughters (49, 45, 45, 43 years) and a son of 29 (please do not do the math!). My longstanding friend Margie Rudman (nee Portman) and her husband Rob are my younger daughter’s godparents. We are fortunate that Brian’s daughters live in St Francis Bay (10km away) but my two daughters live very far away – in Vanuatu and Dublin. Our son is a professional architect in Cape Town. I have three grandchildren (14, 12 and 8 years) and Brian has 5 grandchildren ranging from 10 to 21 years.

I look forward to seeing many of you in August!

My other training partner…..

Derek Openshaw

After ’71, Karl Els, Arthur Elhert, Terry Benjamin and I started an engineering journey in Telecoms in what is today: Telkom SA. Obtaining a qualification before doing military service was advised. However, our annual callups were continually revoked and we never did military service! But that Damocles sword impacted our decision making for many years …

A post-Alex Alan (ever the arm-twister, but heart of gold) Zeiss memory: ’72 Al roped me and a few other Alexians into the P.E. division of ‘InterAct’ (Junior Rotary). Our first project was painting a Nursery School next to the mast on the hill north from the Alex grounds. Many more enjoyable, rewarding projects followed.

Derek Openshaw – 75 The day I met Cheryl, when Bestman at a colleague’s wedding

Photo insert: ’75 The day I met Cheryl, when Bestman at a colleague’s wedding

Sport changed from rugby (played at Blues – thanks to Robert Parker) when I met the person I am married to for two score and handful of years, Cheryl Robinson (of the last English-speaking class that graced the classrooms of Framesby High). Cheryl enjoyed playing squash, so ‘obviously’ I started playing. League and competition squash soon followed. It was unreal & weird when I first came up against Piet Snyman (Alex.- Afrikaans Onnie).

Road cycling quickly became integrated into the training routine – thanks to Margie (Portman) Rudman’s husband, Rob. No, the heights of Alexan cyclists:  Von Rubin, Theron and Watson were never realised. But, veteran days (over 45 yrs) alongside some of the ‘old greats’ of the sport was the most enjoyable. Age, in sport, is a great leveller! That was also true of veteran squash – playing interprovincials around the country and had the honour playing against England in 2002.

Let me not get ahead of myself ……. After a ‘6 year honeymoon’ Andrew (’83) and Michelle (’87) arrived – expanded our family which in turn squeezed the budget – some of you been there too, I’m sure!

A shift from engineering to finance (following a BComm) saw us move from P.E. to Pretoria in ’89.  Woodwork was my subject of choice at Alex! Now suddenly in the mid-80’s, I’m drowning in accounting (UNISA distance learning). Any other woodwork or Latin class Alexan enjoy a similar experience? The lecturer suggested I obtain a series of high school accounting books which I mentioned to Brian Heath (Headmaster at Alex at the time) at a squash league game. Two days later Mrs Sutton called to say she had a full set for me: Std 6 to matric. That’s Alex for you! Yes? Two weeks of burning the midnight oil, and std 6 to 10 was dusted … not all exercises… but enough to see me through.

In ’91, Post & Telkom split, I moved over to SA Post (The qualification per 91 ‘Tuks Jool’ magazine cover read: “The only qualification required to work in the Post Office is a long-wet tongue to lick the stamps!!”) A whole new world presented itself. I established a management accounting arm at SA Post which included project managing part of their enterprise-wide SAP system and was fortunate to be offered a part-bursary for an MBA …. Only to be fished out by (then) Coopers & Lybrand’s Consulting division to do what……? Yep, project manage the implementation of the same system in Namibia Post & Telecom in ‘93. I then took a position at Price Waterhouse (Today: C&L + PW = PWC). A memorable project at PW was a post system implementation audit in Natal – only to discover it was designed and built by an Alexan: Andre Lotz, who some of you may well remember. It was great  ‘knowing someone in a foreign land’ and working together – yes, the audit was good! After all, the system was built by an Alexan!!! I finally concluded my wonderful, interesting years of corporate consulting days as the Twentieth Century braced itself for the so-called Y2K gremlin! By this time, I was part-time lecturing at a business school, assisted a few business start-ups, established and co-owned a small labour brokerage in the IT industry.

One of (schoolteacher) Cheryl’s reasons for agreeing to the move to Pretoria was – Nature Reserves. No prizes for guessing where the odd weekend and school holidays were spent during our 32 years in Gauteng. Days of driving, riding horseback or walking in the likes of Pilanesberg, Kruger, amongst others. We count it a privilege to have experienced our Southern African bushveld and wildlife. Cheryl’s classic homeward bound statement was: “Now I’m ready for next term!”

A parallel path … mid ’75, telecomms qualification now completed, a crossroads presented itself. Do I continue the engineering route, or move into the ministry. The Damocles sword still hovered! Helping me unpack this, the late Rev Griff Rogers (Newton Park Methodist) suggested it seemed best to obtain the required B Theology (UNISA), as I could continue studying if and when the call up came. (Final exemption from the military arrived in ’84!!)

So, a week before our wedding in ’77 I gained the entry required recognition as a lay-preacher (Theol Certificate MCSA), and UNISA BTh began in ‘78! After many ‘sit op die klip’ years, months, days, I eventually entered the ordained ministry of the Methodist Church SA at the turn of the century.

The years we spent with the four Pretoria congregations, two of them simultaneously in my final years, were extremely rewarding. Each with its own challenging, steep learning curve. Early in this new journey, I met Prof Malan Nel when undertaking a course at the University of Pretoria (Tuks). I soon discovered this amazing gentleman was internationally recognised as SA’s leading Practical Theologian. I have been privileged to walk an academic path with Oom Malan to this day – through master’s programmes, becoming a ‘visiting’ lecturer & facilitator’ at Tuks, and finally obtaining a PhD at the age of 64! My thesis cites a certain Prof Trevor Hastie in the empirical section (Thanks Trev) And one of our Alex English teachers, Renee (nee Jordaan) Van Der Merwe was my editor! Wonderful working with Renee for almost a year, and chatting to Oom Flip.

Lunch at the Rose Garden Tea House, P.E. 2018 with the Van Der Merwe’s

Interestingly, Cecil Thompson asked me the other day: “What is it with the ministry and old Alex students? A number seem to end up in ministry!”  and he listed a few. So, Class of ’71 includes Cecil himself (ordained pastor in the Full Gospel church) and Gay is married to Rev Rob (Umpire Kidson) Penrith ….. mmmm closest tongue-in-cheek connection is possibly – osmosis – via WACO (Cordingly – the son of a missionary!)

‘Re-tyre-meant’ dawned at the end of 2018. Now more recently, January past, Cheryl and I relocated to a riverside cottage on the banks of the Keurbooms River, east of Plettenberg Bay …

‘Retired?’  Eish, English has its limitations!  So, maybe best said in a more descriptive language: Oom Flip se Afrikaans: ….”Ek het afgetree, maar nog nie uitgetree nie!” – as I continue to do research and writing – thanks to today’s technology – for my two Alma Maters: Tuks and UNISA – which I guess will continue … until eyes fade … and fingers can type no more… or Microsoft Word’s integrated Dictate can no longer make out what I’m croaking ……

Meanwhile, stay safe, secure, and sane …. until we meet again

Dean McCleland

After passing my CA and completing articles at Price Waterhouse in PE, in 1980 I joined Barlows in Joburg where I worked for 35 years. Initially I worked in finance rising to Financial Director at a small subsidiary by my mid-thirties. A promotion as F.D. to larger company followed. Part of my responsibilities were to turn this company around financially. After a year it was obvious that the company was unsalvageable. As a reward I was offered a directorship or a much larger company but with almost intractable problems. To me that was more of the same but with enormous headaches. Instead of the promotion I applied for a lateral move/demotion to run Projects which mainly encompassed IT. For the last 15 years with Barloworld as it was then called, I did ERP implementations, set up costing systems and ran Value Based Management seminars to group companies, amongst other projects.

After a brief two-year marriage in my late twenties, I got divorced and relocated to Durban with Barlows. At 31, my boss challenged me to run a marathon with 3 weeks of “scientific training“: week 1 – 1 x 15kms training, week 2 – 1 x 21kms training, week 3 – 1 x 32km training, week 4 – run the marathon. In week 3 I bailed the 32km training run at 21kms and week 4 loomed with 42kms to be run. By 32kms I was delirious but my boss grabbed my arm and kept me going. To cut a long story short, I finished in 4h28, 2 minutes within the cutoff. [Haydon I must still get you for that].

I must have been a soft touch because my best friend challenged me to enter the 1000km challenge but our target would be 2000kms of races per annum. That meant running the equivalent of a marathon a weekend. Of course, when one is young, one’s body accepts such punishment. Naturally we travelled the whole of SA to meet our target. A Saturday 21km at Fort Klapperskop in Pretoria would be followed by a marathon in Durban on the Sunday. “Freebies” would be doing a 10km cross country or road race on Wednesday night. After a few years, Ashley’s body started complaining so he withdrew from the challenge. Fortunately there were other mad people like me whom I could rely upon. This Challenge morphed into the Around the World Challenge i.e. running 40,075kms of official races anywhere in the world. After 10 years many of the initial 200 competitors had withdrawn.

February 2015 was the big day, the 8th person in terms of the SA rules to run around the world. For me the official point of running around the world was the 11km mark on the Jeppe Quondam 21/42 race. As is tradition, a bunch of challenge participants would run the whole way with the finisher. As a twist I twisted the arms of a whole bunch of non-running family & friends to run from that point to the finish with me. What a response; a friend from Durban, some hiking friends and my sister. I even twisted the organisers to give all of them a medal even though they had run 10kms of a 21kms race. Included in the 40,075kms, were 94 marathons and greater than 1000 half marathons. After completing 50,000kms in races to January 2020, I have had to retire /slow down. After a childhood injury to my back and 3 subsequent back operations, I am now battling to bend or run.

So Gary, when you claim that I must be mad, I totally agree with you. We were all deranged but I have made so many friends and memories in the process.

The final race in order to achieve my goal of running 40,075 kms with some of the people who would accompany me on the full 21kms if they were runners and only 10kms if they were non-runners such as my sister and my daughter.

After suffering from various aliments in her mid-forties by the age of 50, Janine’s health was on a precipitous downward spiral. By 55 she was bed-ridden. For the next 4 years, she was in and out of ICU continually and in her last year she was in a coma for six and a half weeks. Finally at the age of 59, Janine passed away.

I have published four books since retirement:

  • The Cassocked Man: Mired in ControversyThe Life & Times of the Cape of Good Hope’s First Colonial Chaplain- Rev. Francis McCleland;
  • On imperial Service with the 10th Hussars during the Boer War;
  • The Bondelswaarts Anti-Colonial War through the Eyes of Three Men and
  • My magnum opus Port Elizabeth of Yore.  Only volume 1 of 4 has been printed so far. Volume 1 is Defying the Odds: Port Elizabeth – From the Khoi to 1860.

I have two children, a son and a daughter, but I have no grandchildren yet.

Philip Godawa: My Professional Life

If I’m honest I suspect that subconsciously I was inclined to think of school as an extracurricular necessity to my drama activities, both at school and the many amateur theatre groups in PE. I was very lucky that teachers like Mr Wright and Mr Ellis were so understanding and supportive.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about the theatre and I have been so very lucky to be able to make my living doing something I love. Not all plain sailing by any means but the highs outweigh the lows. I’ll try and be brief and just pick out a few highlights.

My late Dad made a very wise condition to my going into the Theatre and that was that I get a degree so I had something to fall back on. Off I went to UCT and got my degree in Drama and a Performer’s Diploma. Ironically the only time I have been asked about my qualifications was when I started working in China in 2006 – the Chinese are extremely education orientated. In fact I was placed on a higher earning tier because of my degree when I worked for Disney Shanghai on “The Lion King” – so thanks Dad.

After University I worked as an Actor at the then Capab & in Johannesburg for 5 years. I then decided to spread my wings and go back to England to try my luck there (what courage one has when one is younger!) It was very tough but I managed to keep myself in work for most of the 5 years I was there but eventually I decided to come home and based myself in Johannesburg but worked as an actor all over the country on Stage, TV & Film.

Although I loved acting I had a growing interest in Directing. There’s a well-known saying that the most difficult part of directing is getting your first job, and my goodness is it true. I knocked on hundreds of doors and after quite a number of years the then Napac offered me a small production which I wrote and directed for their supper theatre and that then lead to bigger productions. I continued acting and directing and then “The Phantom of the Opera” landed on our shores. All the big international productions have what’s called a Resident Director – a glorified name for a “quality controller” – and that position has given me the opportunity to travel to China, Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, The Philippines, New Zealand & Europe. After Phantom I went straight onto “The Lion King” – as Resident Director. That not only lead to my being appointed one of the Artistic Producers of “The Closing Ceremony of The Fifa World Cup 2010” but also to an 8 month stint living in Shanghai doing the first Mandarin production of “The Lion King” and I don’t speak Mandarin! Everything had to be done though an interpreter. For months afterwards I would speak in very short sentences and wait for the translation, even when speaking English.

I love China (I’ve even performed in Wuhan!) and having worked there so often I have seen a great deal of the vast, magnificent country and learn many of its cultures. I was lucky enough to Direct & Co-adapt a Mandarin production of “Pride &  Prejudice” in Beijing just before the pandemic. (Please don’t think I’ve been smoking something, “Pride & Prejudice” is always among the 10 top favourite books in China). I’m hoping that travel restrictions permitting to be working there again later this year – hence my not being able to attend the reunion.

As you can see, I have been so extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to do such a wide range of work – so much of it being in the right place at the right time. I am truly thankful. I sincerely hope my “now” photo doesn’t seem pretentious but while we were in Turkey Lord Weber paid us a visit and absolutely hated the sound. Hence the irony of the following photo which looks as though I am telling him off when in fact I was getting a right royal bollocking.

Comment by Sharon Rhode: Wow Philip! What an amazing career you have had! You always had great talent and your unwavering belief in yourself and your chosen path has certainly paid off! 

Bucco’s Life by Colin Buxton

After matriculating, along with several others at Alex who had asked to go to the Navy, I found myself in the 3rd South African Infantry, Potchefstroom.  I guess our love of surfing wasn’t what they needed.    My dad on the other hand thought otherwise. Watching me building surfboards for my mates he suggested I set up my own surf shop.  Of course, this was in the very early days before Country Road and Billabong and I didn’t think there was any money to be made from surfing.  So, it was off to UCT to study oceanography which I figured would keep me close to my first love, surfing.  But the subject was dead boring, and I became a geologist instead.  Now you may be wondering how someone with such a love of the ocean becomes a geologist and finds himself in the Namibian desert working on a uranium prospect.  It finally dawned on me too, so it was back to Uni to complete my degree and honours in marine science.

Then – The 3 musketeers – Bucco, Moose and Droogie.  Not sure whether this was Std 9 or matric

That’s when I really started to wonder whether my dad was right.  There were no jobs for marine scientists anywhere in the country.  So, second best was to stay at Uni and do a Masters.  By then Trevor Hastie had found his way to UCT and we shared a house for several of our postgrad years.  But jobs were still very hard to find until I landed a contract position at the Port Elizabeth Museum in 1981 studying fish.  I got married to Lynne (nee Bishop), a PE girl who I’d met in Cape Town, we bought a house and started a family in 1983 with a beautiful little girl, Samantha-Anne.

Now – Lynne & I

My laboratory was the ocean, the job entailed a lot of SCUBA diving and fishing from Cape Agulhas to Mozambique and I was being paid to have fun. These were truly the best of times.   Along the way I completed a PhD which opened up the opportunity of a permanent position as lecturer in the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University.   So in 1987 we packed up and moved to Grahamstown where my son David was born.  Surfing had now taken a back seat to golf and anyone who plays the game would know that once that bug bites you stay bitten! 

We loved our time at Rhodes, but in 1996 our world took a dramatic turn with the offer of a position at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston, Tasmania – “Tas where?” my friends would ask.  Yep, up for the challenge, we packed our bags with two young kids for an adventure in what was famously a British penal colony.

Trevor (on my shoulder) and a few mates with the boards I built with Norman Quick (also sitting)

To be honest I saw AMC as a stepping stone to a job somewhere on mainland Australia and didn’t imagine staying for long. But we fell in love with the place and wild horses couldn’t now drag us off the island.  Of course it helped that in 1998 I landed a dream job at the University of Tasmania in Hobart where I was asked to set up a new marine science institute.  Fifteen years in the making I’m proud to say the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies is now the leading organisation of its kind in Australia.

My work done, I retired in 2014 to establish a small consulting company which still keeps me busy.   Looking back I can’t describe how lucky we have been.  Australia has been very good to us.  Samantha has her own advertising agency, Inclusive Creatives, and my son David is a medical specialist at the Alfred hospital Melbourne.  And we look forward to him giving us our first grandchild later this year.

2019 – Coast 2 Coast cycle trip across UK

Sadly though, all of this moving around has meant that I lost touch with pretty much all of you and our many other friends in SA.  But I have remained in touch with both Trevor Hastie in California and Gary Ward in Brisbane.  Which brings me to my life changing moment that Dean was asking for.

On our last visit to California, a little before COVID hit, Trevor took me for a bike ride around his neighbourhood in Palo Alto.  I was knackered at the end as I hadn’t been on a bike since Std 8, but something about it clicked and on our return to Tassie Lynne and I, both well into our 60’s, took up cycling. We are now regular bike riders, choosing bikes over a car to get around, being members of our local cycle lab (spin class for enthusiasts) and spending our holidays on our bikes, the last being a Coast2Coast trip across the UK.  It’s been a truly life changing thing.

Well that’s all folks.  If you are ever in Oz come down to Tassie and visit.  Reading your various blogs has been an amazing ride down memory lane and I dearly wish I could attend the reunion.  So enjoy, and I’ll raise a glass from afar on the nite!!

All the best Colin

Colin on swimming:

Back in the day we used to spend hours in the pool at 49a Shirley Street where lap races trying to impress Rene was high on the agenda. It was here that I developed a talent for butterfly….perhaps not a talent as such but at least I was better than Spook, Moose and a few other of the boys.

It follows that I was volunteered for the 50m butterfly event at the annual school gala. Confidently I stepped up and we were off.   It must have looked very good for a few seconds but then I realised I was fast running out of breath.  No-one had mentioned you had to breathe if the length of the pool was more than about 5m.  That’s when my stroke started to come undone and panic set in.   After what seemed an eternity, oxygen starved and thoroughly exhausted I rolled onto my back about 20m into the race.  

The crowd was going wild and I looked over to see Simms and Welch standing up, laughing hysterically and cheering me on as I made it to the side of the pool. That’s my lasting and fond memory of Bob whose geography class was my favourite at school

Clive ‘James’ Buttner

Hello to all the 1971’s
It’s been fantastic to hear from so many of you from around the world. Although I only spent 1 year at Alex it was undoubtedly the most enjoyable year of my schooling. I even managed to acquire the nickname James within a week of starting matric & it stuck for many years.
After school & army training I tried my hand at a few careers then settled on the building industry, I studied Quantity Surveying at Technikon in PE & Durban & worked for a number of building companies in PE, East London, Durban & Transkei during the 70’s and 80’s
During my time in Transkei in the mid 70’s I played for the Transkei rugby team & I tried for years to convince everyone that I was an international player but as it only causes laughter I have stopped mentioning it!
In the mid 80’s I moved to Knysna & started a company manufacturing & building timber log homes, initially in all parts of SA & later in many countries around the world
T&B Log Homes is still going strong today
I emigrated to New Zealand in 1997 & moved to Brisbane, Australia in 2000 where I have been since
I am currently working in the field of civil engineering contracting, not nearly as stimulating as building beautiful timber buildings but am enjoying it nevertheless
A few years ago I was lucky enough to catch up with Vincent Cory in Cape Town, he’s as delightful a fellow as always & looks very similar to when he was at school!
This photo is from the 25th reunion of the 1971 matrics in 1996
all the best to everyone

25th reunion of the 1971 matrics in 1996

Karl Els

Karl Els, Carol Addison, Kathy Lang, Dave Brnic at the matric farewell.
Karl Els and his son Kyle

Iain Watson

For the record, on my many visits to WACO’s office there was NEVER any tapping of sticks on tables !!!!! My butt had blue strips on it for weeks after each appointment.

Janet and I  ……..  a long long time ago …….

Military training 1972 – enough said. Joined Dorman Long (PE) as a learner draughtsman in 1973, during this period I met Janet Webster (Commercial High), we were married in 1976 reception at the Hunters Retreat Hotel. Nico von Ruben was my best man.

I met up with Nico in PE about 2 years ago and we had a catch up, over a bottle of wine, on our careers and cycling exploits both then and now.

1978 I obtained a NHD Civil Engineering from PE Technikon, it was known as CATE back then (College for Advanced Technical Education) and I ventured into the world of Consulting Engineering working for small consulting practices in PE.

In 1993 I was approached by a company called Knight Piesold Consulting and asked if I would be interested in establishing a regional office in KwaZulu Natal. We have been in KZN ever since, initially in Pietermaritzburg and currently in Hillcrest outside Durban. We have two wonderful daughters Megan and Sarah and 4 Grandchildren all of whom live in Hillcrest …. we are blessed to have them so close.

All of the above appears to be rather mundane however…….

Phinda January 2021 ….. ready for game drive.

In 2006 I was approached by Thames Water London to lead an investigation into the cause of a tunnel failure on one off their many water reticulation tunnels.

After much debate I resigned from Knight Piesold and we headed for London. Having established the cause of failure, the team was tasked with establishing repair and preventative solutions for the long term future of the system.

In amongst all of this we found the time to travel around the UK and Europe extensively, and have some wonderful memories.

However in 2009 Sarah, our youngest daughter, announced that she was expecting her second child and that she wanted Mom to be present.

After much debate I informed Thames Water that we would be heading back to SA toward the end of 2009.

I then phoned the MD of Knight Piesold, cap in hand, asking for a job. I was pleasantly surprised to be reinstated to my previous position and appointed to the Board. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason.

Needless to say we settled back into life in SA and little Erin arrived to be greeted by her Grandmother.

Company policy is that Directors must retire at age 63, which I did after signing an agreement to complete outstanding projects over the next 4 years. This period has elapsed and I am RETIRED.

To keep fit I am into Mountain biking, those of you that are mountain bikers will have heard of Giba Gorge, Shongweni trails, Karkloof trails etc etc , these are all on our doorstep and if ever you are in the area please contact me and we can organise a ride.

Vaughan Jones

This is the info that I received from Trevor Hastie about Vaughan:

Vaughan was an English master at Grey High School, and he ran the surfing club. Here is a link to an article that describes how he died in the surf in July 2014 in Summerstrand.

I used to look Vaughan up from time to time when my family and I came from California to visit my family in PE. We would meet on the beach or in the Summerstrand shops coffee house. Below is a picture of us together around 2010 or so. His students had a nickname for him which was “billos” (for biltong). After years in the sea and sun his skin was quite wrinkled and leathery. Of course they never called him this to his face. After school and army he went to UPE and then taught at a school in George for a number of years. He ran the school surf club there at Victoria Bay, which is near George.

The photos below of Vaughan Jones have been kindly supplied by Gary Ward.  According to Gary all of them were taken on one or another of their surfing trips circa 70 / 71. Colin Buxton is changing the flat tyre.

Vaughan Jones and Gary Ward allowing Colin Buxton to do all the work in
changing the tyre
Vaughan Jones
Vaughan Jones and Gary Ward solving the problems of the world

Allan Zeiss

This information has been supplied by Margie Saunders [McCall]: Since I now reside in Cape St Francis close to Allan’s widow Santa, who lives in St Francis Bay, I committed to establishing a few details of Allan’s life. Allan obtained a law degree as well as his Masters at UPE. He worked at the Port Elizabeth Metro for 21 years and then at Coega (CDC) for 10 years. He died in June 2012 after a short illness. May he rest in peace.    

Allan Zeiss at his graduation

Comment by Rod Forster: I would just like to add a small snippet reflecting on Allan’s father Bob. During my school years at Alex, whilst our family was going through some personal difficulties, I will never forget the amazing kindness shown to our family by Allan’s dad Bob. He went about it in a very humble and caring way. Would just like his family to know how  immensely, it was appreciated.


Allan Zeiss in later life
First Rugby Team
1971 Athletics Team

Sharon Rhode [Edelson]

Here are some of my oldies:  

  • Matric dance with Gary!
  • Our much loved staff contingent.
  • I think most of you have this one. Class of 71.
  • Std. 9 dance!
  • Interhouse plays – House for Sale, me playing an American film star with Phillip Godowa in the main role.

More recent: .  

  • With my son Greg and Jade, at their Wedding near Plett. in 2018
  • Christmas 2020 in Cape Town with my husband, Michael, his oldest son Philipp, wife Phyllis and son Mads, Greg and Jade.
  • Shovelling snow at home in March this year, we had 40 cm and temperatures of minus 8 degrees. It is quite unusual for us to have so much snow and so late in the season.

How lovely seeing all of your replies! I too have very fond memories of Alex and also of so many of my fellows and teachers. I always dreamed of becoming a vet but dear Mr. Cordingley put paid to my ambitions, when he asked how on earth I imagined that I would ever be able to dehorn a bull, considering my size and strength!

Below a brief summary of my life after Alex!
I worked in a professional stable yard in Johannesburg after leaving school and soon realised that my ability to earn a living doing what I loved most, was rather limited. I then started working in Accounting as a clerk at Bristol Myers, where my boss encouraged me to study and I began studying for my B. Com through UNISA. During my 9 years at Bristol, I moved up to head of Accounting and then to the IT department and received training in programming and systems design at IBM, which is where I met my first husband Matthew Walsh. We were married in 1982 and Matthew was transferred to Bloemfontein. 

Our son Greg was born in 1984 in Bloemfontein and I graduated with a B. Com. in Accounting and Business Economics. We returned to Johannesburg in 1986 and Matthew and I separated after a year in Johannesburg, after which a divorce sadly followed. I continued working as a contract systems analyst in Johannesburg and whilst contracting back to Bristol Myers, my good friend and associate Kathy Green and I decided to open our own consultancy. We ran a successful consultancy, Walsh Green and Associates for 22 years implementing ERP systems in various medium to large enterprises. 

Meanwhile my love of horses and dressage took me down the path of becoming a dressage judge. In 2005 I embarked on my international judging career and a qualified FEI 4 star judge and still judging internationally. My judging has taken me to many different countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia/New Zealand.  Whilst attending the World Equestrian Championships in Aachen in 2006, I was seated, quite by chance, next to the man who was to become my second husband, Michael Rhode. Michael is a top amateur Grand Prix dressage rider and also a businessman.  We were married a year later in 2007 and we live in Germany, in the beautiful forest area, near a small village called Oer-Erkenschwick and yes, I am now also fluent in German.

I started learning German 6 months before I left SA. I sort of did a turbo course. It wasn’t easy learning German with all of the tenses and articles and absolutely no logic behind the articles. Very few people spoke English in our town and so it was a bit difficult at the beginning but I was fairly fluent after a short while and I manage all of the accounting and salaries etc. in German. We are not retiring any time soon but being self-employed we can pick and choose when we want to travel (Covid allowing).

We run our property business from home and still have some dressage horses at home. My son Greg married PE show jumper and triathlete Jade Hooke in 2018 and they currently live in PE, where she still has her stable yard.  I was lucky to be able to travel to PE in March/April for a month, to enjoy the birth of my first grandchild Jennifer Jade Walsh. My brother Ivan Edelson, also ex Alex (Matric year 1968) still lives in PE , he is a sworn valuator and an ordained Anglican priest at St. Cuthbert’s. 

Bobby Welsh was also a firm favourite of mine and left an indelible impression on me. His teaching methods surpassed those of any of other teachers, he had a way of commanding respect without really trying and I remembered everything he told us in class so well that studying for exams became virtually unnecessary. 

Mr. Wright sadly didn’t bring out the best in me, I found his lessons rather boring (perhaps the subject matter didn’t interest me enough) and I switched to Bookkeeping in Std. 9. Some of his nicknames I remember were, Baldibus or Wrightibus and someone once wrote on his board, ‘ this class is like a Model T- Ford with filled with nuts and screws and a crank in the front.’ I remember the housewifery course in Std. 6 with Mrs. Maggs very well and how we had to split one egg into two for the scone recipe. An incredibly difficult task which doomed most of us to failure. I also remember Flippie on his back demonstrating how to change a nappy and also how he demonstratively grabbed his crotch one day whilst explaining the meaning of the word kruis, which can be translated as a cross and also a crotch.

I also remember being infatuated with Mr. Ellis. He too was a gifted teacher and made English come alive for me. I remember punching Arnold Viviers in Mrs. Bowls biology class because he kept teasing me and calling me Sharry the Shark! I got sent to Mr. Cordingley, who told me in no uncertain terms that young ladies do not punch boys! On another occasion I was rather bored during English class and kept twanging my plastic ruler, this earned me an English essay as punishment. I wrote an excellent essay that seemed to please Mr. Ellis’s replacement (I forget her name) until the last sentence which read, ‘All teachers are dirty sods.’ (I didn’t really mean it, I was just angry that I had to write a long essay on why I twang my plastic ruler) so I was off to Winston again for a very stern dressing down and a forced apologise to all of the teachers during their tea break! 

Does anyone remember Jimmy holding Titch upside down in Miss Chilcott’s class and banging Titch’s head on the floor. I don’t remember why Jimmy did it but I remember them both being sent to Wacko.

Funny how these memories all come flooding back.

Gary Ward and Sharon Edelson at Matric Dance

Back row, left to right:   Cricket pro?, Piet Snyman,  Braam Brink, Mr Hiscock Caretaker, Renee Jordan, Robert Parker, Mr Jones ( I think – briefly taught Maths),  Flip, Dennis Woolard.

Middle row, left to right:  Lisa Haus, Christel Botha, Annemarie Belge, Helen Simmonds, Tuck shop lady-Mrs van Hysteen,  Denise Zietsman, Johanna van Rooyen, Unknown lady, Blanche Workman, Kathy Sutton, Maureen Matthews.

Front row, left to right: Louis de Lange, Rita Wienand, Robin Wright, Peggy Maggs, Tony Simms, WAC, Bob Welsh, Joan Dickason, Jannie Fourie, Paul Ellis.

Sonia Slement (nee Venter)

After leaving our Alma Mater I did a Private Secretaries (as it was called back in the day) stint at CATE (a.k.a Technikon, a.k.a. NMU) got a job and saved for a dream trip which was realised in 1976 in the form of a Contiki camping tour around Europe.  We then hired a car and explored the length and breadth of the UK before returning to PE to settle down for a while!   We had two beautiful daughters who both inherited our love of travel and duly spread their wings immediately after graduating from NMU and Technikon.   Basing themselves in London they worked and travelled far and wide.  They both married local PE (Gqeberha!) boys and went on to bless us with a tribe of six of the best grandchildren.  Over the years we visited and travelled with them around the UK including Scotland and Ireland.  As our older daughter has been based in Singapore for a few years now, we’ve popped over to explore Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia on various visits to them.   Between overseas visits, my hubby and I made the most of the great South African outdoors embarking on many beautiful hiking trails in and around the Eastern and Western Cape.

On the grindstone front, my last job was at the CSIR where I worked for 25 years, mostly as a PA but also fulfilling a few other roles along the way and was fortunate enough to be afforded the privilege of travelling nationally and even internationally on a couple of occasions.  I loved working in that exciting environment but when retirement day arrived in 2014 I embraced it!  After retirement I did some invigilating and assisted in typing up a section of a doctoral student’s thesis.   Currently an avid gardener, while desperately waiting for soil-embedded fingernails to morph into those elusive green fingers I also enjoy doing some needlework and reading.

Gary Ward

Gary at Kings Beach 73

After leaving school I did what all young blokes at that time had to do, spend a year doing military service – basic training in Potchefstroom and the rest in Rundu at the western end of the Caprivi Strip.  The following year, 1973, I started Uni at Rhodes.  This is where I was blessed to meet the loveliest lady on the planet.  We married in 1977 while still at Rhodes, and are married still, 44 years on.  At the end of 1977 we moved to Durban where we had both secured lecturing positions at the University of Durban-Westville.  We spent two great years in Durban and then migrated to Australia in December 1979.

We spent the first seven years in Australia living in North Queensland.  We both furthered our post-grad studies at James Cook University in Townsville.  I completed my PhD and worked in academia while Mary went into teaching.  This period also gave us the opportunity to to do much 4WDriving and exploring in the northern and central Australian outback in our free time.

In 1987 we moved down south to experience “the big smoke” of Melbourne – and cooler weather – which was a big change from the tropical north.  Melbourne has amazing pubs, restaurants and attractions and we enjoyed visiting many of them, and again took advantage of our time there to discover the wonderful flora and fauna of the Victorian countryside.

However, the weather proved to be cold and unpredictable, so at the end of 87 we packed up once more and moved back to sunny Queensland, but to Brisbane, which lies just north of the NSW border – 1000Kms north of Sydney and 1350kms south of Townsville (that’s the geography instilled in me by Bob Welsh coming to the fore !!!).

After a few years with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, I joined the Queensland Government’s Treasury Department in an office that specialised in government statistics.  By the late 90’s I was running the office as the Queensland Government Statistician.  Around 2005 I joined Treasury’s executive management group, with responsibility for a handful of portfolios (including Federal Financial Relations, Deregulation, Macro and Micro economics, and the Office of the Government Statistician) and worked happily in that capacity until I retired in 2014 at age 61.

Gary Ward in 2021

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Treasury – the work was varied and extremely interesting – I love being retired.  I get to play golf as often as I wish !!!  Also, we are now able to travel when we wish, both abroad and at home.  Mary and I share a great love for Australia’s beautiful beaches and the outback, and we try to get out to enjoy them as often as we can. My mother still lives in George and we have been back to SA quite a few times in recent years to visit her and old friends.

I’ve attached a “then” photo taken at Kings Beach in (I think) 1973, and two “now” photos, taken quite recently.

And herewith a little response to some wonderful memories so amazingly remembered and kindly shared by Harry Pike.

My goodness, Harry, you have a memory like a steel trap !!!  How on earth do you remember all this stuff from so long ago?  I have to say I’m in awe of not only you, but also many others who seem to remember so much from the old days.   Please keep the anecdotes coming, it makes for great reading.

You are quite correct – buzzing to and from school on our little 50cc bikes was great fun, as were my early experiences with the MGA.   It’s amazing that you remembered!!   And yes, I did love that car.   It was a great little sports car and great fun to drive.   And more so knowing that my father and I had restored it, literally, from parts.    When my father bought the car it was being used as a chicken coop in a back paddock somewhere in PE.    The motor and transmission and other assorted bits were packed away in boxes, and by the time we got it, all the wiring had deteriorated very badly.   So you could say we restored it from scratch.

I drove it while at University, and also the two years following (78 and 79) when my wife and I and I took it to Durban where we had been offered lecturing positions at the University of Durban-Westville.   Sadly we had to sell it at the end of 79, just before we hopped on a plane to migrate to Australia.

I have attached the very last picture I have of it, taken in Durban at the end of 79.

We bought two more MG’s.  A MGB in 1988 when we moved to Brisbane and a MGF in 2009.   Mary always wanted another MG so she got to drive both of these on a daily basis.   Sadly they don’t make MG sports cars any more.    The modern MG’s are pretty bland and are difficult to differentiate from all the other 4 door sedans on the road.   It’s a great shame.

You also made reference to the school hockey team. I have a few photos of my time at Alex, including this one, the second of the two attachments to this email, which shows the Alex 1st hockey team – either 70 or 71.

Thanks again Harry and everyone else who has sent in stories of our time at Alex.   The time that you all have taken to do so is greatly appreciated.

Hockey team

Vincent Cory

I am so privileged to have experienced Alexander Road High back then, and my respect for Mr. Cordingley is as strong as ever, ever though I felt the wrath of his cane a few too many times. Each one well deserved, I might add. How lucky we were to have had such a tremendous teaching staff, something I only got to appreciate after I left school.

Vincent Cory on the left Kay Sutton, June Brown and Colin but how did Buxton crack an invite to the party?

Harry, thank you for the photographic memories you forwarded, especially the rugby team which beat Grey 13-8. I still remind some of the “old “Grey boys about that whenever I get the chance, much to their irritation.

Regarding my business life, I left Port Elizabeth for Cape Town along with my brother’s family on the day I wrote my final matric exam paper. I then joined the SA Reserve Bank in Cape Town, primarily as they paid me a salary whilst doing my army training. After army, and back working at the bank, I was transferred back to Port Elizabeth. Soon thereafter I accepted a job offer with BP, and spent 21 wonderful years with the company, during which time we had 7 transfers within SA, finally ending up back at BP’s Cape Town Head Office. In 1994 I decided to venture out into business on my own, and was fortunate that it turned out to be reasonably successful. I purchased a second business in 2000 and a wine farm in 2005. By 2012 I had sold them all and have been retired in Cape Town ever since.

Karin and I have three daughters, Robyn living in Johannesburg, Dayle in Cape Town and Andrea in London. We enjoy travel and prior to Covid were spending four to five months of the year overseas where we would rent an apartment, on a monthly basis, so as to get a feel and to enjoy the different cities / country’s culture. We got back from our last trip two weeks before lockdown last year, which was very fortunate. Now I spend my time playing a lot of tennis, and generally enjoying life with friends and family.

Phillip Williams

I have been swimming upstream most of my career & mostly in global corporates. After a wasted year of compulsory military service in Potch & Rundu in then SWA, I moved to Grahamstown to do a B. Com at Rhodes, majoring in Economics & Business Administration. On completion, I joined Ford as a grad trainee in Supply Chain Management. In 1980, I moved to Cape Town to join Atlantis Diesel Engines (a joint venture with Daimler Benz & Perkins Engines). After 5 years there, I did an MBA part time at Stellenbosch Business School & on completion, moved on to BP as their Procurement Manager. They were very happy years surviving a good few retrenchments as transformation evolved. In 2009, BP followed Shell & moved their HO to Johannesburg. As this was never on my game plan, I opted for an early retirement at age 55. Fortunately for me, PetroSA (previously Mossgas) were setting up a Strategic Procurement sector in their Cape Town head office & I joined them on a 2 year contract. 2 years became 6 & when the gas reserves off Mossel Bay started to run out, it was time for me to retire.

While our plan was always to find a comfortable & affordable gated estate in Cape Town, we never did. My wife inherited a holiday home from her parents in Natures Valley where we always enjoyed visiting. By chance, I saw an ad for Knysna Lifestyle Estate which ticked all the boxes. So we had a home built & moved to paradise 2 years ago & are loving life in the Garden route.

Phil back in 71
Phil & hat courtesy of Cele
Gary & Phil playing in front of a few hundred students at 1 of the Rhodes Folk festivals. While we may look confident, pretty terrifying to say the least

Gay Penrith [Bailey]

50 years ago, I was working in an IT dept! Rob and I got married two years later (48 in Sept) and we had a family of two. Our son is now a Baptist pastor in Benoni and our daughter a pharmacist lecturer at NMU. Both attended Alex. We have 5 gorgeous grandchildren. We were called into the Anglican ministry in 1984 and had two amazing years at theological college in Grahamstown. After serving in various parishes for 30 years we then relocated back to Grahamstown where Rob became the Chaplain  at DSG, and I worked at St Andrews College as PA to the Second Master. We loved our time there in the schools and saw the wonderful educational opportunities young people have today. I wish I could have my education over!! Although we are now retired, we continue to serve the community around us. I am fortunate to have two mornings a week working as a bookkeeper for a medical aid broker. We have travelled extensively and in 2019 visited Ireland, UK, and Australia. We cannot wait for Covid to get under control so we can travel again.

Sonia Venter and Gay Penrith [Bailey]

Harry Pike

I am so enjoying reading the contributions, from around the world, of members of the “legendary” Alex Class of ’71. Thanks, once again, for setting it all off. While it is great to note the names of all who have contributed to date, it is also bitter-sweet to be reminded that some of our group are no longer with us and that we are most fortunate to still be around to enjoy this sharing.

To the “Three Musketeers” of Colin, Trevor and Gary……..pleased to see that you guys are still making your presence felt across the world. Oh for the days of the “nifty 50’s” and their buzzing morning arrival under the trees near the hall and Gary’s much-admired restoration of his red MG!

And to Rod Foster; he who lead me to Friday night youth gatherings and the games of snooker ; fondly known as “RC” for the manner in which he was able to accomplish some difficult shots!

As Trevor and Anileen did with their respective visits to “Bob” Welsh, I was able to get to see Paul Ellis in 2016, another of the Alex teachers who made a strong impression on me. He arrived at Alex early in his teaching career and was there for a relatively short period of time. He was looking really well and we were able rekindle early memories and compare notes on our experiences in the teaching profession. I count myself fortunate to have been at Alex during his brief tenure.

As for the “Then and Now” (and taking the lead from Gay) …….attached pic 1 is with Mike Holmes on the Wild Coast in 1970; pic 2 circa 1974 (and trying to keep up with you, Dean, and Colin, unfettered after Alex and the SANDF!); pic 3 is with Mike again in PE, 50 years on, in 2020 (again, with no worries about visiting a barber!).

While clearing out a collection of accumulated “stuff” before relocating to the UK late last year, I came across some material collected by my mother (she was a great family “archivist”). I have attached some of the retained material as I believe that it may be of interest to some of the ’71 group.

Pic 4 is a newspaper clipping, giving a brief report of the 1st XV 1971 rugby match against the school in College Drive. While one of the teams claimed that “it was just a pre-season game”, the result was a noteworthy achievement nonetheless. I seem to recall that the Alex 1st hockey teams of ’70 and ’71 also enjoyed their fair share of success against the same school.

Pic 5 is of two pages from “Alexander the Great”…..what memories this conjured up! The small pen drawing is one of Mike Neff’s little “masterpieces” in which he was able to capture so well, and amusingly,  elements of Alex school life.

Pic 6 is included for general interest.

Anecdotes in number you will, no doubt, continue to receive.

A vivid and amusing recollection, and possibly at the expense of one of the aforementioned “Musketeers” :

Final day of matric and a group gather at the picnic grounds near Cape Recife after departure from school. There is much celebration of wide-ranging nature to mark the significant milestone, assisted by the intake of various refreshment in some cases, which carries on for much of the afternoon. Late in the afternoon a good number of those in the gathering  are called to assist a fellow celebrant in his search for his much-treasured watch. He is in quite a state (of disrepair?) and looking wildly around in the sea sand of the dunes while calling on “St Anthony” to assist him in his search. His antics, with his accompanying exhortations, cause much humour to those attempting to assist him. Remarkably, given the area and the circumstances under which the watch was lost, it is eventually unearthed and returned to its effusively (and amusingly) grateful owner.

Hope that some of this material serves to jog memories and motivate a few more contributions to this trip down memory lane.

Hi Phil,

Thanks for sharing this pic. You guys certainly looked the part, never mind
how you felt!

I enjoy seeing this sort of material. It certainly helps fill a small part of the 50-year “gap” between “then and now” (how time flies!).

After completing my year at the pleasure of the SADF, I continued my pre-Alex itinerant wanderings and took off for Natal to study, only returning to PE for infrequent visits as other members of my family also moved from PE.

As mentioned in an earlier email; going through material, so carefully collected over the years by my mother, prior to my most recent move brought back so many memories of the Alex years and of the many  who contributed to the enjoyment thereof.

Harry Pike with Mike Holmes on the Wild Coast in 1970
Harry Pike circa 1974 unfettered after Alex and the SANDF
Harry Pike with Mike Homes in PE, 50 years on, in 2020 (again, with no worries about visiting a barber)

The first rugby team of Alexander Road High School were responsible for a surprising upset when they met Grey High School for the first match of the season Robert Parker, former prop of the Eastern Province is acting as the coach of this team for the first time. The team that beat Grey 13-5 is in the back row left to right: Cecil Thompson, Michael Holmes, Eugene Viljoen, Phillip Pneumaticatos, Paul Harper, Alan Jacobson, Mr. Robert Parker (coach), Middle row: Glen Truscott, Alan Zeiss, Johan Labuschagne, Robert de Kock, Neil Sampson, Clive Buttner. Front row: Vincent Cory, Derek Openshaw, Vaughan Jones, Ralph Tarr [captain], and Peter Pedersen, de Kock and Buttner served as replacement at half time. It was also the first time that Alexander Road beat Grey’s first team

Alex Matric 1971

Due to the family having to move from place to place through the demands of work circumstances, Alex was my 6th school enrolment when I arrived midway through Std 7 in 1968. And retrospect allows me to appreciate just how fortunate that move turned out to be! The three-and-a-half years at Alex were the happiest of my varied school experiences.

My lasting perception of Alex is that of a “happy” school, and a great mix of real “individuals” amongst the many pupils from diverse backgrounds. While due credit must be afforded “Waco”, credit should also go to his management team and to the many strong, and often colourful, characters on the school staff who, no doubt, made lasting impressions on the Alexians who passed through the school. Here I think of people like Messrs Welsh (a man for whom I developed great respect), Simms, Snyman, Ellis, Wright, Richardson, Wienand, Woollard, van der Merwe, de Lange, Parker, to name but a few.

I retired, after 40 fulfilling years in education, as headmaster of a boys’ prep school in Durban (a fact that would, no doubt, have raised a few incredulous eyebrows had some of the Alex staff been around to witness it!), choosing to follow this path due to the positive impact of some of the abovementioned on my life.

As is the case with many of our ’71 year group (some earlier than later), I have joined the Southern African diaspora and am enjoying a “late-life” adventure by settling in Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

Sandy Solarsh [Cohen]

I studied Graphic Art after school. I then embarked on a yearlong working holiday, it was 80c to the dollar, I went with a friend. We first worked on a kibbutz in Israel for 3 months & then went backpacking through Europe, Scandinavia & Britain. It was such a life changing experience for me, from little old PE.

A recent photo when Marc & I went fishing, on the last long weekend. Not a fish in sight but a rare fun day off for us. 

On my return I went to Jhb & married with three children. I was a sales rep for many years selling corporate stationery. I have two grandchildren; one lives in New Zealand. My husband passed away in 2016 & I am now remarried & we have our own business in Jhb. I live a very busy life, working in our business, having my one daughter in Jhb who just got married & my other daughter devastatingly passed away from an aneurism at the age of 29 yrs. in 2015 but I have a gorgeous granddaughter from her who is turning 12 yrs old soon. My son is married & lives extremely well & happily in New Zealand. 

Trevor Hastie

Loved reading the blog and all the comments, and catching up with you all. Waco was a legend. I know that I got caned for long hair at age 16 or so (this was after I fell under the bad influence of Colin Buxton and his pals!).

I have lived in America for 40 years with my wife Lynda (from Zimbabwe), have two children, and as of 2 months ago, a grandson. After getting a Ph.D at Stanford University in Statistics in 1984,  followed by a year and a bit back in SA, my wife Lynda and I moved to New Jersey where we spent 8 years. I worked at AT&T Bell Labs, and we had our two children there. In 1994 we moved back to Stanford University in California, where we are today. I am a professor in Statistics, and we live on campus in one of the original faculty homes (built 1913). Barely survived the last four years with our version of Zuma, but normalcy has been thankfully restored and much happier with president Biden. At 68 not yet retired, but think of it a lot! (There is no retirement age at most American universities, but they do start offering incentives around my age!)

I had planned to attend the Alex 50th reunion, and in fact was an active recruiter, but now travel half way around the world is not too attractive with Covid not out the way.

Attached is a photo from 1971 of Vaughan Jones (R.I.P.  2014) and me painting the Alex badge. Also a photo of me (a wannabe surfer), and again Vaughan (I think his pose was on purpose!)

Trevor Hastie with Jannie Fourie and Bob Welsh

Renee Ferreira [du Toit]

Rene in 1971

I will be the easiest  (along with Margie) to be found as I am still in my childhood home in Shirley Street (hence my email address). I retired from NMU at the end of 2019 after 34 years and am loving a life of leisure. I am surprised at the number of us who ended up in education. It was not my first choice after two weeks of student teaching Maths at Alex at the age of 20. But I am grateful to have joined NMU after 12 years in the private sector. The flexibility allowed me to be with my two daughters while they were growing up. And now that I have retired I am loving my time with my four grandsons. 

Rene Ferreira (du Toit) with her husband recently in Namaqualand

Margie Rudman [Portman]

After leaving Alex in 1971, I did a Chemical Technicians course at CATE (now Technikon) and worked in a pharmaceutical lab and later in the GM labs. I got married to Rob Rudman (our dating started way back in Std. 7) at a whole 21 years old, had 3 children and am now a granny to 5. We are now in our 47th year of marriage.

After a teaching stint at Alex spanning nearly 20 years and then retiring for 10, I started helping out at Alex at reception, where a year later I now find myself permanently ensconced and very happily so! So I can say my life has really revolved around this Alma Mater of ours, be it very different from our days here – can’t wait to show those of you who will be at our reunion.

During the years of raising our children, I continued to play a little tennis here and there at a very social level and trained with the masters swimming team to try and keep fit.

My retirement gift to myself was a Mediterranean cruise, and we have visited a few countries and travelled SA extensively. I attach a “then” and “now” photo. The “then” taken on the Alex tennis courts in my matric year (I battled to find a school photo!) and “now” was taken officiating at a mountain biking event, a sport in which I became involved in at an administrative level. This lead me to visiting another three overseas countries as the manager of our SA Team participating in the World Champs in the early 90’s when I was much younger!

Stuart Parmenter

After doing my stint in the SA Military, I studied chemistry at what was then CATE while working in the R&D labs for Dulux. In 1979 I was transferred to Dulux Head Office in Gauteng. I lived in Johannesburg for 40 odd years before I retired and relocated back to Port Elizabeth, to be closer to my eldest daughter (and the grand children).

Marie Juta [nee Steyn]

The day I wrote matric I reported at the Provincial Hospital to start a nursing career but soon realised that I did not want this as a career. After a year auditing and a year at UPE starting a BCom degree, I joined Standard Bank for the next 25 years during which time I had the privilege of serving Mr. Cordingley at the Standard Bank Agency at the base of the Elizabeth Hotel for a number of years. During my bank career I was married, was a foster parent and eventually adopted my son, now 33 years old. Soon divorced, left PE and Standard bank and joined Quest Employment Agency in Cape Town. Then moved to Gauteng and joined Damelin School of Banking, later known as Mill Park Business School until my retirement. I returned to PE to retire. 

Other blogs on Alex

Alex of Yore: Bob Welsh – One of the Originals

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