A Tribute by Douglas Smith

I haven’t used Facebook to reflect my feelings on anything in a few years, but today is sadly the time to do so.

Today one of the few people that I have ever consider a mentor passed away. As my House Master at school Mr Vaughn Jones took an interest in my life and made a friend of me in no time. He noticed the trouble-maker in me that got under many a teacher’s skin and helped me out of more than a few tricky situations. 

He gave me my first surfboard and wetsuit when I was in grade 10, and along with my dad lit a fire in my heart for the sea that has become one of my greatest passions. Jonsie had a way of picking out the different guys and helping them to fit in by finding something for them to be passionate about. Just the other day he spoke to my dad about organizing a board for a young guy just like me who needed something to focus his energy on. Grey High School is full of thriving boys, but Mr Jones took the time to nurture those that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.

One of the happiest days of my life was the day that I saw Jonsie and his wife sitting in the congregation of Summerstrand United Church for the first time. It was always a blessing to see his face at the entrance of the church as he handed out welcome brochures and offered his infectious smile to cheer up your morning. He always had time to catch up with me and loved hearing about my time at varsity. My heart is filled with joy as I think of him chatting to God right now about why PE didn’t provide better waves during his time on earth.

I will miss your friendship and guidance Sir. I only wish that this world hadn’t be so cruel as to take you away before you could share more of yourself with us. I could never thank you enough for the role that you played in my life. I am a better person for having encountered you.

I pray that the Lord comforts your family and friends in this difficult time. My deepest condolences to them. Farewell Jonsie, you will forever remain a legend. Rest in Peace.



Vaughan Jones

Vaughan Jones


Vaughan Jones taught English at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth.

This afternoon, Vaughan passed away doing what he loved most – surfing.

The tributes pouring in  tonight on the social media from colleagues, pupils, friends and family, say it all

He was an Officer and a Gentleman, a friend, a mentor, a teacher, a guide, a confidante – the adjectives keep on rolling!

I read the following poem by Ronnie Belcher, the late husband of my English teacher Ella Belcher:

Wintersmaande word met die gewaai

van reen en wind die bote skoongemaak

en warm vasgeanker teen die kaai,

maar soms gebeur dit dat met hooggety

een skielik op ’n nag sy toue breek,

die oop see invaar en vir goed wegbly


The last few lines translated into English:

But sometimes it happens that

Suddenly on a night, at high tide,

the ropes snap,

The boat drifts out to sea

And never returns!