BULAWAYO business and sports icon, Roy George Stephens, has died.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
He was 80.
Stephens’ son, Gavin, said his father passed on unexpectedly at his home on Sunday morning.
“It was a shock, as he was in good health,” Gavin said.
Stephens was born in Bulawayo in 1935 and lived his entire life in the city, contributing to the sporting, cultural and business community of the city.
He attended Milton Junior School, and then went on to Milton High, where he was appointed headboy in 1952. Several years later, he served as the chairperson of the school’s parents teachers’ association up to the time the school transformed to a multiracial institution at independence.
Stephens went to the University of Cape Town, and subsequently joined the Bulawayo Board of Executors and Trust Company in 1958. He retired after 42 years’ service in 2000 as both chairperson and managing director.
He also served as chairperson of Falcon Gold Mines Ltd (Falgold) having steered it to its listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. At the time Falgold was the country’s largest gold producer. He was also chairperson of Olympus Gold Mines (Pvt) Ltd, Willsgrove Brick and Potteries (Pvt) Ltd, and a director of Zimcor Ltd and Knight Frank and Rutley.
Stephens was a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute of London, and served as chairperson of Willis Coroon, followed by Alexander Forbes from 2000 to 2010, Associated Brokers International (Pvt) Ltd and was still chairperson of WFDR Risk Services at the time of his death.
In the mining sector, Stephens was a well-known figure for many years, representing the industry on two government delegations to India and Canada shortly after independence. He was elected president of the Chamber of Mines, having served for many years on the executive and as vice-president. He was also chairperson of the Mining Industry Pension Fund. Following his retirement in 2000, he was elected as a life member of the Chamber of Mines.
The Zimbabwe School of Mines was both established, and located in Bulawayo, during this period, almost entirely due to Stephens’ efforts and persuasion. The Zimbabwe School of Mines is now recognised as the Sadc centre of excellence for mining, a credit to the City of Bulawayo, but a tribute to a determined son of this city.
For many years, he served as chairperson of CABS (Matabeleland board) and was a member of the main board. After his retirement he served as CEO of ABUZ, and was also chairperson of the Bulawayo Publicity Association, on which executive he served for 10 years.
In the field of sport, Stephens captained Matabeleland Hockey, and went on to play for the country. He was also a member of the first national team to travel abroad.
As a boy he grew up very involved with Boy Scouts, with his crew winning the annual Assegai Competition, and earning the first ever Kings Scout Award in Southern Rhodesia. He went on to become a member of the Raylton Rover Crew and had remained one of the last surviving members. It was from his scouting days that Stephens became interested in botany, a lifetime hobby that was immensely rewarding and resulted in some significant work done in the Matobo Hills.
His great passion was the Matobo Hills. Apart from his depth of knowledge and love of all that the hills have to offer, he was a member of the Rhodes Estate Matobo committee, and served as chairperson of the Matobo Conservation Society.
Stephens is survived by his wife, Joan, children Sally, Gavin and Desmond, and four grandchildren.
He will be cremated today and a church service will be held at Presbyterian in the afternoon.