BESIDES being highly successful in business, Godfrey Howes found the time to serve not only his community, but also his country for almost 30 years.
Now 85, Howes lives a well-earned retired life in Settlers Park in Port Alfred.
Born and raised in King William’s Town, he spent his working life in the town. After being educated at the famous Dale College, he started working in 1950 as an apprentice electrician in his father’s well-known business in the town. In those days an apprenticeship lasted five years and Howes opted to include an improvership course, which assumed all the responsibility that a qualified man would, right across the board in this field.
It was tough in those days and there were no such things as holidays for Howes. He explained that when it was time for him to go on leave, his father would arrange for him to spend this time with other electrical businesses in the area. “Looking back, I am thankful for this as I gained wonderful experience from this,” he added.
After qualifying, Howes worked for his father for 10 years with his brother and after working for various other companies, he decided to open his own business in 1965 because “I had an independent spirit and wanted to work for myself.”
And so it was that this ambitious young man opened his doors with one assistant and it immediately became evident that here was a man who knew what he was doing. The business grew steadily to become the largest electrical contractors in King William’s Town by the time he decided to retire after almost 30 years.
Though obviously extremely busy in his business, Howes also found the time to serve his community.
It was not long before he was elected on to the town council and remained on this for the next 27 years. He eventually became the mayor for three years and was recognised for his work when he was made an alderman. He explained that this award was only made to councillors with more than 20 years’ service who had also held the office of mayor.
Howes also joined the Border Blood Transfusion Service with its headquarters in East London and donated a total of 150 pints of blood himself. It was not long before he was elected on to this committee and became its chairman for 27 years. He ensured that this organisation was highly efficient; so much so that many overseas countries rated it as the best in the world.
At the same time, Howes also served on the board of the Natal Blood Institute and had two terms of three years as national chairman of the South African Blood Transfusion Service.
In between all this, he was also on the board of directors of the King William’s Town and East London Technical Colleges for about 20 years. In addition, he was on the board of the King’s Holme old age home in the town for the same period of time.
Howes was eventually recognised for his tremendous work in blood transfusion and education when Rotary International presented him with the sought after Paul Harris Fellow Award.
Howes eventually retired and he and his wife of 60 years, Meryl, moved to their home in the Wilderness for a well-earned rest, where they lived for the next 12 years.
“But after three months, I was bored out of my mind and decided to start another electrical business,” he said. This also proved successful, though not as taxing as his previous business. It was there that he was able to devote more time to his hobby of 22 years – scroll saw woodwork, called fret work in the old days. This involves incredibly fine work and unbelievable patience, but the work he produces is outstanding. He has won the “best on show” award in the woodwork section of the Bathurst Agricultural Show on five occasions.
One of these involved more than 1 000 delicate cuts on his fine-toothed saw. The smallest items he makes are Christmas decorations and the largest a hanging wall clock with a height of 137cm and 51cm wide. These clocks involve up to 40 hours of cutting time and a further 15 hours to assemble them.
The Howes couple have been residents in Settlers Park for the last 11 years.
For most people this would all have been enough to keep them busy. But not in the case of Howes as he still found the time to become chairman of his town’s chamber of commerce on two occasions. He was also a member of Lions International in the town for ten years and also served a term as its president.