John Hamlett, retired headmaster of Bay Primary School in Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek and resident of Stanford since January 2014, passed away on the 16 December 2014, leaving his wife Mandy, son Johnathan and daughters Kerry and Amy and their families bereft of his love and companionship.
Looking forward to settling in Stanford after spending 23 years in Fish Hoek, twenty of which were spent guiding his staff and pupils in the most compassionate and open-hearted way at Bay, John was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in April last year. For nine months he very bravely fought the disease, undergoing chemotherapy and tri-weekly dialysis sessions, all borne with fortitude, dignity and grace.
We were glad to be part of the Bay Primary family for twelve years as our three sons spent their primary years there. Children, parents, grandparents, teachers and other staff members – John embraced us all. His door was always open, his sense of humour and fun unflagging. It was in this spirit that friends and family wore neon socks and colourful ties to his memorial service held at the King of Kings Baptist Church in Sun Valley on Sat 20 December 2014.
Born in East London in 1951, John spent his primary school years in Zimbabwe and his high school years at Fish Hoek High and Gardens Commercial High. After two years in the army he trained as a Phys Ed teacher at Graaff Reinet and Paarl. Before being appointed headmaster at the primary school in Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape, he held teaching posts at Sun Valley Primary, Bergvliet Primary and Kirstenhof Primary, where he was Head of Department. After three years in Stutterheim the family returned to Fish Hoek when John was appointed headmaster at Bay (then Kalk Bay Primary).
Final assemblies, prize-givings and other school functions were always memorable occasions, infused with John’s sense of fun. It was not uncommon to see him being hugged by one of his small charges. Our sons remember him for the stories that he would tell at each assembly and we all recall his parting words before each school holiday: “Go swim with the sharks and play in the traffic!”
The world has lost a truly magnanimous soul.
I hope that Mandy, who has borne John’s suffering with as much fortitude, strength and courage as he did, will find the same comfort, friendship and support within the Stanford community as she had in Fish Hoek and that her life in the village will ultimately be a happy one.
Viv von der Heyden