One of Port Alfred’s most well-known, loved and eccentric residents, Beverly Young, passed away on Monday morning, at the age of 74.
As tourism director of the Ndlambe area, one of Young’s first moves was to paint the exterior of the Port Alfred tourism building, the colour of which some residents felt was eye-catching while others hated it. But, as she said, “There’s no such thing as bad advertising.”
Young was an avid history buff, a raconteur who could spin a story from her vast knowledge of the area and its history, even if she could on occasion blend in a little of her own imagination to make the story better. Young led a life full of fun, but she was unafraid of controversy and would argue along with the best of them, particularly when she felt she was in the right.
Having been ill for some time, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Young didn’t venture out much in 2020 but rather made her presence felt on social media where she expressed her opinions on subjects, from the pandemic to shipwrecks off the Kowie coast. In fact, Young shared one final local history post to the Talk of the Town Facebook group on Sunday evening.
Aside from her loving husband, Eaden, who died several years before, and her sons, Eaden and Barton, Young had many, many friends both in the area and outside, as can be evidenced by the tributes that poured in on social media.
One good friend and founder of Talk of the Town, was Mauneen Charter who, in a sad and reflective mood wrote a fitting tribute to Young.
“I will never forget your 70th birthday when you took a heap of mates to Sibuya for the weekend, and boy did we have fun! A generous and kind gesture indeed,” wrote Charter.
“You loved museums and the generous donations you made to several, both in East London and Port Alfred, are testimony to this—whether it was a collection of old photographs sourced for the Kowie Museum or the many items given to the Bathurst Agricultural museum and the many donations and time spent working at the museum in East London.”
Charter mentioned how a love of art and antiques was another if Young’s passions, but went on to say that cooking certainly wasn’t one of them.
“Your garden was your pride and joy, and you even made a business of designing and managing gardens for others. Way back in East London you owned a successful clothing design factory—designing outfits using antique lace and exquisite fabrics,” she wrote, adding, “You are my only friend that could get away with going to a formal function wearing your leopard print nightgown and being complimented on your beautiful fur coat! What you did, you did with aplomb.”
Up until a few years ago Young was a regular contributor to the Talk of the Town with her column, Serendipity, in which she would relate anecdotes about the history of the area, including trains, shipwrecks, historical buildings and culture.
In 2014, for Port Alfred’s 125th anniversary, TotT published a broadsheet edition and Young was a major contributor. In fact, she was so proud of the paper she had the front page framed, positioning it prominently in her Royal Alfred Marina home.
Young also contributed to several Facebook pages on South African and 1820 Settler history.
Another good friend and Young’s successor in the tourism office, Sandy Birch, also paid tribute to friend.
“Bev Young, a legend who touched the hearts and lives of so many and who, with her passion for people, for history, for animals and for tourism, and with her kindness of spirit, made such a positive impact on so many,” wrote Birch.
From the myriad posts on social media pages it is clear that Young was an important part of the lives of many in the area and will thus be sorely missed.