Teacher leaves a legacy of love for sport and her pupils

The late Regina Elizabeth Smith
From left are daughter, Lindsay Barnett, grandson, Seth Smith, granddaughter, Jeshurun Smith and son, Gary Smith at the drive-by memorial service at ther home.
Back, from left are the Ridgville Primary School mini cricket team Jaden Isaacs, Huthaifa Nolan, Muzammiel Salie, Lukhona Siwendu and front Uthmaan Samsodien at Ms Smith’s drive-by memorial.

Ridgeville Primary School teacher Regina Elizabeth Smith was passionate about sport, and her pupils.

Ms Smith, 68, from Portland died on Sunday June 13. Ms Smith, who had suffered a stroke last month, passed away peacefully in a rehabilitation centre, where she was undergoing physiotherapy and speech therapy.

On Friday June 18, the family, teachers, work colleagues and pupils held a drive-by memorial service in Portland.

She grew up in the Bridgetown area, where she spent most of her childhood years. She received her formal education in Athlone at Peak View Primary School, Bridgetown High School, and her tertiary education at the University of Potchefstroom.

Her daughter, Lindsay Barnett, said her mother had been an outgoing person, who loved to be on the go. Staying home was just not in her nature, said Ms Barnett.

“She loved spending time with her family, going away on holidays together. She was a woman of unwavering faith. She taught us to pray, sacrifice, give freely and bring offerings to the Lord. All in all just loving God as she did,” she said.

She tried to help everyone around her even though she was going through her own struggles.

Ms Smith was selfless, strong, and raised four children on her own after their father passed away 24 years ago.

“At the time she volunteered in the school’s feeding scheme at Montagu Drive Primary and decided to study education to become an educator,” said Ms Barnett.

“She single-handedly put us through schooling, made sure we had a plate of food to eat at night and would dish her plate last, with whatever was left.

“She would always boast about the fact that she was born on the same day the Queen of England was inaugurated. Her mother named her Regina Elizabeth. Due to this she lived her life as our queen,” she said.

“As a family, we lost a great stalwart and rock but the eternity gained an exceptional angel. The family thanks everyone for their messages of condolence and support at this time,” she said.

Ms Smith is survived by her children, Bradley Smith, Gary Smith and Ms Barnett, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Principal of Ridgeville Primary in Westridge, Anthony Europa, said Ms Smith had been active in the sporting arena and had taken a leading rule in cross country and mini cricket.

“She loved her children. Her life and who she was encapsulates the type of teacher she was. She was a well-loved lady and we will miss her,“ he said

Deputy principal Percy Atkins, said Ms Smith had a heart for the community, and had loved sport, her children and her pupils whom she treated as her own.

Ms Smith taught Grade 1 pupils at Ridgeville Primary for eight years, having previously taught Grade R teacher at Montagu Drive Primary School, in Portland for 18 years.

“Ms Smith leaves a void. We will miss her. All this happened so suddenly and we were shocked by the news of her death. We were expecting her to return. She was a very fit person for her age, (and) was a beacon of hope to many,” said Mr Atkins.

Ridgeville teacher Rosina Steggie, was involved with Ms Smith in mini cricket. “Representing our mini cricket team was an honour for us. Seeing their potential unfolding every time on the field it was amazing. As soon as Covid-19 has ceased, we’ll be back with a fresh junior team on the field,” she said.

Another teacher, Ruth Jonas, said Ms Smith was the oldest staff member at school, “but you wouldn’t say”.

“Ms Smith believed in sports. She was a cheerleader for it. She had a heart for children and everybody was her favourite; she treated all of them the same,” she said.

June Pieters, who is in charge of schools cross country for district south, which includes Mitchell’s Plain, said Ms Smith had been an executive member the cross country body and had travelled around the Western Cape with pupils.

You would immediately notice Ms Smith in her white and blue tracksuit, she said.

“She was always laughing, always there when you needed her. She went out of her way to do volunteer work,” said Ms Pieters.

Montagu Drive Primary School teacher Gail Isaacs, said they would miss her vibrant personality, while another teacher at the school, Judith De Almeida, said Ms Smith had had “a soft-soul and caring nature”.

“She was dedicated to what she did for others. She made the working environment a comfortable place for people to be in,” said Ms De Almeida.

Captain of Ridgeville’s mini cricket team, Muzammiel Salie, 10, said they would treasure the time they had spent with Ms Smith. “Everything she did for us was special,” he said.

Former captain of Ridgeville’s mini cricket team who is still part of the team, Jaden Isaacs, 12, said Ms Smith had taught them to always keep their eye on the ball when playing cricket – as well as in their daily lives. “We will remember all the things she has taught us and we will miss her dearly,” he said.