Intelligent, irreverent, inappropriate – and irreplaceable.
David Terrence Jones, known colloquially as the Mayor of Muizenberg, was bid farewell by his community on Saturday September 15.
David was the owner of the Empire Cafe, and news of his death from pneumonia, aged 53, was met with terrible sadness from the close community he served.
His service was held at the Muizenberg Bowling Green. David’s family and friends gathered, and gave him a send-off filled with truth, laughter and tears. He was remembered for his dark sense of humour as much as his generosity of spirit. He was described as “the heart of Muizenberg”.
David was a keen gardener, growing succulents and vegetables. He loved photography and was captivated by the dramatic weather patterns in Muizenberg.
Most early mornings would find him hiking his favourite paths along the mountain he lived beneath. He was a virtual racing car driver, and would race in international leagues online with his Russian team members, and he loved computers, hated Microsoft and was an avid Linux enthusiast.
David was described by his brother Jef Jones, as not just a brother but also a best friend.
“Dave was devout believer in reason and logic and a staunch atheist. He leaves behind a kaleidoscope of a life, and a void which is impossible to fill.”
Dave’s sister-in-law, Sarah Jones, said he had been intimidating when they had first met, but they had become friends first, and then family. Dave’s deal to bake a cake each year of his nephew’s life was itself an adventure.
“Each year would be a dance. We would remind him, he would say he had forgotten – and he would moan – but every year for 12 years, we had a cake which was edible artwork, delivered on time. One year it was a castle cake full of sugar cubes as bricks – an excellent choice for a party of under 10 year olds,” she laughed.
“The sugar rush was high that day. I will miss this guy. He was the best uncle for Jude, and for that I will be eternally grateful.”
Close friend, Jake Easton, conducted the ceremony and read a letter from the staff at the Empire Cafe who said they had lost their rudder, a father figure, teacher, motivator, boss and friend who was always there for them. They signed their letter, “from your children at Empire Cafe”.
He was remembered by friends across the world, who described him as somebody who did so much on the quiet for so many,
Fellow Muizenberger, Terry Bell, wrote from Norway, remembering David’s love of the ever-widening ability to debate, and how he caused many people to think more clearly about important topics.
David Barrett wrote: “When I first met Dave, I was struck by
his intelligence. He was a bright and insightful person – to me, he was the Mayor of the Empire, and his customers were the constituents. He made the Empire the headquarters for alternative Muizenberg and what a fine HQ it was.”
Surfer and friend, Ross Lindsay, spoke at the service, thanking David’s family for who he was. He said the way to David’s heart was through enjoying his food; and he said that he hoped that David would be on the other side, preparing his famous croissants for the rest of us, who had yet to follow him.
Jake Easton’s own memories were of an eloquent, crass man who was bemused by the way light played across the viewfinder of every camera.
“He saw food as a gift to help change life and as a tool to explore chemistry. The last inappropriate man has gone,” he said.
“To wax quixotic about his emotional goodness is to ignore the obvious reality that he was rough and honest, funny and caring, grumpy, but sweet… ignorant, and way too clever for any of us, and mostly very curious about life. I celebrate what my life is, as a result of being his friend,” he said.
He closed with a quote from David’s favourite author, Richard Dawkins, who wrote: “There is real poetry in the real world, and science is the poetry of reality.”
Muizenberger Chris Mason, of Mason Brothers Films, cradling his sleeping daughter, Zoe, read a poem he had written for David:
“You would call me Euro-Jesus when I walked through the door
“your hands pressed together in jest
“I was never quick enough to say
“Let us break bread
“With coffee, there would always be talk
“back and forth
“Your wit was a razor
“you kept close at hand,
“your heart, a large and dangerous thing
“Your bristling, hard,
“could not disguise
“this fierce organ, plated with gold
“So you built a fortress
“overlooking the sea,
“An Empire of friendship
“at the edge of the world
“For we all needed you, sometime,
“and you were there
“when good men were few
“Now you’ve left us here
“to forge on through the mist
“but I feel you
“where mountain meets the sky
“I heard you say, the morning after you died
“’Don’t waste any more time.’
“So I push on renewed when I think of you now
“Watch over us as we carry the torch.”