News » A tribute to Kennedy William Maxwell (Mullins 1957)

- written by Margie Keeton

Kennedy William Maxwell, who was always known as Ken, passed away on Tuesday, 29 May 2018.  He was a dedicated Old Andrean and loyal supporter of all three of our schools.  Ken grew up in Zimbabwe and quickly revealed his strength of character and capacity to make big decisions.  Holidaying on the Eastern Cape coast as a boy, he accompanied a friend to St Andrew’s Prep at the start of the school year.  He told his father he was staying at Prep. Nothing would persuade him otherwise, not even living so far from home.

Ken progressed through Prep and on to College.  He played first team rugby and was awarded colours.  He was Head Boy and Head of Mullins in his post-matric year in 1957.  Ken then completed a Mechanical Engineering Degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, also finding the time to row for Wits and win South African Colours. In 1958, Ken went to Oxford University on the St Andrew’s College Rhodes Scholarship, completing his PPE degree, then the popular choice for South African Rhodes scholars.

Ken’s working life was dedicated to mining and he rose through the ranks at JCI.  He headed Rustenburg Platinum Mines (then the world’s largest platinum producer) for 9 years as MD.  Ken then spent 8 years as Executive Chairman of the Gold Division and finished with a year as Executive Chairman of the Coal Division, too.  His leadership was recognised by the SA Chamber of Mines and the World Gold Council and he served the mining industry’s collective interests as President of each for separate spells.

After his retirement in 1995, Ken threw himself into various voluntary endeavours.  He was dedicated to building opportunity for all through education and chaired various NGOs.  However, it was Early Childhood Education that sparked a long-term interest.  He created national ECD networks, linking NGOs and lobbying national government for programmes to change the lives of SA’s youngest citizens.

Ken served on the DSG Council, helping Chairman Chris Murray build up the school’s investments.  The impending 150 Jubilee brought him back to College where he made a massive contribution to the production of “The Boy in You”, taking charge of the business of keeping all role players on board as Marguerite Poland’s masterpiece passed through multiple funding, editing and publishing hurdles.  He also supported David Wylde in reviving Bishop Armstrong’s vision of a network of Anglican schools.  Here the Good Shepherd Trust provided him the platform to mobilise the College community behind Good Shepherd School, Grahamstown’s oldest school and the grounds where the first College boys were taught.

Ken was the longest serving and most active Good Shepherd trustee until his retirement last year.  There were many excellent ideas that Ken backed just as stubbornly as when persuading his father to send him to Prep.  His last “big idea” was for the Trust to use growing interest in wildlife runs for a fundraising drive.  College’s Director of Community Engagement heeded his call and it is to his credit and hers, that the second Grahamstown run is taking place next Sunday.  This is a most fitting memorial to his love of and service to education, the outdoors and the Eastern Cape.  Ken was a deeply spiritual and scholarly man with interests ranging from nuclear physics to philosophy.  He was unfailingly gracious and made others feel heard and respected.

Lala ngoxolo, Ken.

A memorial service is scheduled to take place on 24 June 2018 at 11:30 at the JCC Auckland Park, Johannesburg.