Sabie loses one of its giants


8 February 2016
Valerie Kemp

A love story which started during World War II ended sadly when Jeffrey Hawkes (91) lost his battle against cancer on 3 January. He met the love of his life, Thelma, 71 years ago, and was married for 69 years. They met at a dance and he immediately called her his “bright eyes.”

The couple moved to South Africa from England in 1971 and lived in Gauteng. They came out to Sabie on a day visit for a job interview. Coming down Log Tom pass, Thelma said: “I have never interfered with your decisions on jobs, but please take this one, I want to live here”. The couple resided in Sabie for 35 years. They lost all three their children to cancer over the years.

“There are four things that we will remember about Jeff,” said Gwilym Rees, Chairman, Sabie Chamber of Commerce. “His love for Thelma and his constant concern for her, his incisive mind which was as sharp as a pin almost to the end, his concern for the community of Sabie and his inimitable sense of humor to the end. While in hospital and in very poor health, we said to Jeff that he and Thelma should join us for Christmas lunch, to which Jeff replied: “Well then, I had better start working up an appetite right away!”

Jeff worked tirelessly in his efforts to improve the lives of the Sabie Community. He was constantly dealing with the municipality and offering his services and technical ability to assist Thaba Chweu (TCM) at no cost. Jeff and Gwilym developed a management proposal to be delivered to Sabie TCM in an effort to turn the municipality around. It also aimed to bring about a sound management practice for the benefit of Sabie. Gwilym has undertaken to continue those efforts in memory of Jeff.

Jeff also used to provide maths lessons to township children, again simply out of the goodness of his heart. Jeff also initiated an arrangement whereby he and Thelma generously contributed to the welfare of under-privileged children in the township.

Jeff and Thelma were also the founding members of the Probus Club in Sabie, 18 years ago. Probus is an offspring of Rotary, and caters for retired and semi-retired professional business people. Vernon Scrooby, a retired engineer who worked with Jeff stated that; “Jeff will be remembered for his total dedication to Sabie. He assisted wherever possible for the good of Sabie and its people. He will be remembered and sorely missed.”

“We were together for so many years,” said Thelma. “I am trying to cope without him. I realise I have to go on and am thankful for friends and organisations like the Probus club. My Jeff’s last words to me were; I love you.”

Jeffrey Hawkes – born 10 February 1925 and passed away on 3 January 2016.
Photo: Jeffrey and Thelma Hawkes.

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