IN MEMORIAM – JAFFRAY AMBROSE GUEST (30/03/1917 – 14/01/2001)
Jeff Guest - Victor Ludorum, Cambridge High School Athletics, East London, South Africa 1934
"Where do I find the words to say?
How do I teach him?
What do we play?
Bit by bit, I´ve realized
That's when I need them,
That´s when I need my father´s eyes"
- Eric Clapton "My Father's Eyes", 1988
This is Jeff Guest pictured at age 17 in 1934 proudly holding his Victor Ludorum trophy awarded for top overall athlete at Cambridge High School , East London, 1934.
Jeff Guest was my dad, who left us 16 years ago tomorrow.
Jeff was born during the First World War, served in the military police during the Second and was a gentleman of the old school in all his ways. He grew up during a time when records were played on gramophones (the old 78 speed LP's) and the first car models were just being introduced. In fact his early school days were sometimes spent travelling to school by horse drawn wagon before the family got their first car!
He left school at 16 to help support his family and only had one job (selling cars) during all his 46 years of work.
Jeff married at a young age and went on to raise two sons from his first marriage. After his first marriage failed he met and married my mom Olga (born 1936) and started a second family – three further sons (Chris, Gavin and Graham) were born of this happy 39 year union.
Dad never owned a cheque book or credit card. He lived by the old school principle of “if you can’t afford to buy it save until you can”. He never had much materially but he made sure his sons had the best education through his own self-sacrifices.
He was born and died in the same city, never travelled out of the country and only flew by air locally a handful of times in his lifetime. He lived to see the advent of the computer but never even knew how to switch one on !
Despite his lack of any higher education Dad had more commonsense then anyone I’ve ever met. He always had the right advice for us and it always proved correct in the end. He read the newspaper cover to cover (starting from the sports section!) each and every day and encouraged his sons to “read, read, read” in order to achieve more than he himself had. He inculcated an enduring love for reading and books hat remains with me to this day.
A disciplinarian in the old style, he ruled his house with a velvet-fisted glove and his word was final – no arguments would be entertained!
A schoolboy athletic champion, he also excelled as a speedy, fearless left wing in our South African national game – rugby. When his promising rugby career was cut short by a serious knee injury at age 20 he turned to cycling and achieved much success, representing his province and undertaking epic city to city cycle rides between his hometown of East London and Port Elizabeth (around 300 km distance). He never went to the doctor more than a handful of times and was a firm believer in the power of home remedies. He played beach rugby with us well into his seventies, swam in the sea in all conditions and never once wore sunscreen.
Above all dad put his family first – every time and all the time. He would drop us off right outside the school gate (much to our disgust as we got older!) attend every rugby game and even watch our weekly practices. He always made the time for us.
Jeff Guest and boys - taken at home 1978
He would sometimes infuriate us by putting us into the car and taking us to the barber for “short back and sides” cuts (we wanted “cool” long hair back in the 70s!) slicked down with hair oil – we had no say in this decision of course!
Dad always said that the secret of his enduring youthful spirit was his children – “your kids keep you young” was his mantra
Rest in Peace Dad – I remember you every day, I remember your eternally youthful and optimistic spirit, I remember all you did for your family. A life very well lived!
Till we meet again,