(Published - 11 September 2019)
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) bid farewell to a beloved colleague and friend, Mr Valentino van der Heyde, at a special memorial service on campus.
The Van der Heyde’s family attended the service, including his wife, Jenna-Lee, his brother Lorenzo, and mom, Denise, as well as his son, Sashton (9) and daughter, Sasha (5). Also in attendance was his aunt, Denise.
The campus community is still in shock following his death on Sunday, 1 September 2019.
Mr Van der Heyde worked in the Department of Physics & Astronomy and The Centre for Innovative Education and Communication Technologies (CIECT). He was revered in the eLearning arena where he published five manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. He was also studying towards his PhD in solid state physics.
Professor Michael Davies-Coleman, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, said his loss will be “felt for generations of students to come”.
“Few words can be of comfort at times like these. The Department, the Faculty and the University, together with the family, are still reeling from, and trying to come to terms with, the news which we received nine days ago of Tino’s sudden, tragic and senseless passing,” said Prof Davies-Coleman during the memorial service.
“From a university and faculty perspective, in Tino’s tragic passing we have lost a dear friend and much loved colleague who has made an exceptional and indelible contribution to the general technological awareness of, and more recently the deeper understanding of, physics - in particular for a generation of students that has passed through our lecture halls and practical laboratories.”
The University community, family and friends sang his favourite hymns, Amazing Grace and It is Well with My Soul as tears flowed.
An emotional Professor Christopher Arendse - HOD of Physics and Astronomy at UWC, who was Mr Van der Heyde’s supervisor, said: “For Tino it was always about the students. Students always came first.”
Mr Van der Heyde’s career at UWC started in August 2011 as a technical officer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. In June 2014 he joined the CIECT as an instructional designer, where he engaged with lecturers across departments to create online environments.
“He was a passionate leader in his field and had unlimited potential, but more importantly, he had a great love for his family and kids. He leaves an irreplaceable void in the lives of his colleagues, students and pupils who he helped over weekends. May he rest in peace,” said Professor Arendse.
“He was never afraid of a challenge and grabbed an opportunity where he could learn and develop his expertise. We will remember Tino as a kind and gentle spirit, always willing to assist, guide and consult both lecturers and students. He was a true team player who earned the respect from his colleagues and peers, not only for his renowned expertise in eTeaching, but also for his integrity, humility and compassion.”
While a friend and colleague Mr Rudy Maart recited a poem (attached), Mr Blaine Lomberg, a close colleague and friend, said Mr Van der Heyde always put God first and would serve others without expecting something in return.
“We both came from the streets of Mitchells Plain; we shared a brotherly bond in having a passion for Physics. We dreamt big. For young boys coming from Mitchells’ Plain, it was a mean and harsh world. So having dreams without goals, would just be dreams. Tino understood that in order to achieve his goals, he needed to apply discipline and consistency.
“Valentino believed in lifting others up. He didn’t aspire to make a living - he aspired to make a difference,” said Mr Lomberg.
Dr Juliet Stoltenkamp, Director at CIECT, said “he was a jolly person” and was a young man with an old soul who had a taste for old music such as The Stylistics and The Manhattans.
“This young scientist joined our Instructional Design team and demonstrated a high work ethic and team spirit - right from the start. We could rely on Tino to mentor new staff members. Because of his good, kind heart his mentoring expanded across eSkills and personal agendas.”
Ms Malebo Motlhake, one of Van de Heyde’s students, said he was very approachable and would always share his knowledge. His ethos was to keep studying and never pass up an opportunity to learn.
The Van der Heyde’s family attended the memorial service of UWC lecturer, Mr Valentino Van De Heyde. From left is his mother, Denise and his brother Lorenzo and an aunt, Brenda. His wife Jenna-Lee, his son, Sashton (9), and daughter, Sasha (5) and aunt, Denise also attended the service. Photos: Harriet Box