Aubrey De Wet, former principal of Fairview Primary School, in Grassy Park, has left a void in many people’s lives after he lost his battle with Covid-19.
Memories of the always jovial and positive man were shared at a memorial service streamed live, on Saturday January 23, from New Apostolic Church, in Parkwood.
Mr De Wet was admitted to Melomed Tokai hospital on January 4 after he showed symptoms of shortness of breath and his sugar level was high, said his eldest son, Jason.
Although he was eating well in the first week of his illness, his health deteriorated and he succumbed to Covid-19 on Friday January 15.
Mr De Wet, 60, who lived in Parkwood, taught at Fairview from 1985 until 1988 as a physical education teacher. He was then promoted to Head of Department at Stephen Road Primary and was there from 1989 until 1994. In 1995 he took the position as deputy principal at Fairview Primary and in 2009 he became principal.
Mr De Wet said his father would always say, “If you live your life right and with love, everything else will fall into place,” and that was exactly how he lived his life.
In 2018, Mr De Wet was seconded to the Metropole South Education District and became circuit manager in 2019.
Jason said his father also taught him and his sisters Erin and Lisa at Fairview Primary.
“My father was strict but there was no negativity around him. He would always remind people to remember to smile.”
One of his pet projects that he spent 17 years advocating for was to have the old school replaced with a new building. And in 2013 he invited Southern Mail to the opening of the new school.
Jason said his father was passionate about his pupils. “I remember when a former learner came to ask my father for help as he got rejected at a high school. My father went to the principal of the high school and told him that every naughty child should be given another chance”, and he secured the child’s position at the school.
Jason said his father was a minister at the New Apostolic Church in Parkwood where he often gave sermons. “My father had such a positive influence on people, even the Melomed hospital staff was crying when he died.”
He said the children and two grandchildren would often visit their parents but during lockdown they kept the visits to a minimum.
“I saw my dad on January 3 as he was driving past our house to visit the pharmacy. We spoke for about 15 minutes. When he was in hospital we would video call him.
“Whoever I have spoken to had a constant message that my dad was exactly the same person with everyone. I hope he is in a better place.”
Current principal of Fairview Primary, Keith Meyer, said Mr De Wet will be remembered as a, “hands-on man who was extremely knowledgeable and could do anything practical from fixing plumbing to doing plastering at school.”
Mr Meyer said that Mr De Wet made time for everybody and he knew the name of every child at school. “As a colleague I would say his work ethic was like a dynamo. He never kept work for tomorrow that can be done today.”
He said De Wet was a humble man and he made sure he developed leaders. “When he was not available we were able to stand in for him.”
The legacy he leaves behind is two-fold, said Mr Meyer. “He pioneered for learners with barriers. We are a full service school that accommodates special needs learners.”
Mr Meyer said Mr De Wet shared his knowledge with everyone and he made sure everyone kept up with the times. “He sent teachers on computer course training.”
Mr De Wet set a precedent of, “an open door policy as he always put others first.”