BY CLEMENT DU PLESSIS
FAMILY and colleagues spoke glowingly of a man who “played the game” without “seeking the limelight” at Paul Tennant’s funeral in Constantia, Cape Town, today. Tennant, 61, passed away on Sunday, the 6th of August.
Tennant was “regarded as a mentor by several colleagues at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)”.
Speaker after speaker spoke about his passion for sport, maths, physics, and computers.
At his funeral, the presiding church minister Peter-John Pearson sermonised from 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind”.
Musician Tina Schouw also rendered a musical tribute, followed by a poetry reading from a family member.
The funeral closed with the committal and a private cremation.
Top 100m and 200m athlete
While growing up in Pinati Estate, near Lansdowne in Cape Town, Tennant showed promise as an athlete in Std 2 (grade 4). He also played football, rugby and chess. In fact, he was an ace chess player at South Peninsula High School in Diep River, Cape Town.
Tennant attended South Peninsula (SP) between 1970 and 1973 where he proved himself to be a sound student in maths and physics and a top 100m and 200m athlete at Western Province Senior Schools’ level.
His cousin and vice-chancellor (academic) Anthony Staak at CPUT, a former fellow pupil at SP, recounted how Tennant played a pivotal part in mathematics to matriculants in the absence of a teacher in the last six months of 1973.
As an athlete, Tennant was the understudy to Heathfield High’s Terrence Smith in the Western Province Senior School’s Sports Union’s athletics team between 1970 and 1973. He was also the captain of the SP athletics team in his matric year in 1973. Smith, of course, was an exceptional sprinter at the time. The other two sprinters on the WPSSSU’s team were Edmund Lewis of Spes Bona and Melvin Lewis of Alexander Sinton.
From engineering to information technology
Tennant enrolled at the University of Cape Town where he graduated with a B.Sc honours degree in engineering.
Thereafter, he took up a position at Anglo American in Johannesburg.
In 1992, he returned to Cape Town to take up a position as lecturer at the old Peninsula Technikon in Bellville.
He was in the position for five years before he was appointed to senior director in the Information Technology (IT) division of the Technikon in 1997.
In 2005, when the Technikon merged with Cape Technikon to become the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Tennant was appointed as head of the IT department at CPUT.
He served in the position until his illness in 2015 and passed away two years later in 2017.
As a journalism lecturer there, I was privileged to have met Paul Tennant where we had many a conversation about athletics then and now.
As a person, he was accommodating at CPUT and he had overseen the journalism department’s computer needs, providing excellent support. For the first time, he provided the department with a facility akin to a fully-fledged newsroom replete with internet facilities, projectors, screens, Apple Mac computers and the required software. He also provided the journalism students with a colour printer at no cost. This was the environment which Paul Tennant had created for students.
Colleagues held a memorial service for Tennant at CPUT’s Bellville campus on Thursday.
He will be sorely missed.
Condolences to his wife, Ingrid and their sons Allan and Dean.