In Memory

Andrew Layman VIEW PROFILE

Andrew Layman was a well-liked and sociable classmate with an easy, confident manner.  He was also a keen boy scout, and was noted for his performances in the scouts' annual Gang Show (basically, a more sophisticated version of the school's annual talent contest).  He was a prominent member of the school cadet band, for he was the dominant figure on the parade ground:  the tallest boy with the biggest, loudest drum!  Andrew was elected chairman of his class in his final two years at school, the newly created advanced maths classes of 5AMA and 6AMA -- perhaps an early sign of his leadership potential.

Andrew took part in our teacher John Nicholl's world-class production of Shakespeare's Hamlet in 1961.  Andrew's role was the Ghost of Hamlet's father, the late king, and Nicholls surely cast Andrew for the unique quality of his voice as much as for his regal bearing. The Ghost appears early in the play, to tell Hamlet that he had been murdered by his own brother, and to demand revenge.  Although Andrew appeared on the stage only as a shadowy figure, he stole those early scenes with his deep, booming, majestic delivery of vivid Shakespearean lines about treachery, murder, incest, and the "sulphurous and tormenting fumes" of purgatory.  "Oh horrible! Oh horrible!  Most horrible!" he intoned, lingering on each resonant syllable as it filled the hall.  The Ghost's later appearance in the play is not really an appearance at all, but rather a disembodied voice.  Hamlet and his companions dither over whether to swear an oath for their future action when suddenly an unearthly, muffled entreaty booms from some nether region below the stage: "SWEAR!"   Hamlet still dithers on, so the distant Ghost echoes the haunting, insistent cry three more times until all comply.  It was marvelous theatre, leaving a hushed audience transfixed.  

After DHS Andrew attended the University of Natal, where he received a BA degree and a Diploma in Education.  He then embarked on a distinguished teaching career.  His first position was at Glenwood High School, 1967-1982, where he became departmental head and coach of the 1st team cricket.  While at Glenwood, Andrew married Valerie Downard in 1974:

They had four children, Amanda, David, Guy, and Olivia.  This photo of the family below was taken in 2006;  unfortunately, Valerie passed away in 2008.

In 1982 Andrew was promoted to deputy headmaster of Maritzburg College, and three years after that, to headmaster of Alexandria High School in Pietermaritzburg.  He remained as headmaster for almost a decade, and was renowned for being able to address all the pupils by their first names.  Andrew continued his passionate interest in cricket as chairman of the Natal Schools Cricket Association, and as manager and coach of the Natal school team.  Andrew was also active in the Natal Teachers Society, and assumed its leadership as President in 1992.  He finally retired from the Natal Education Department in 1997, after a 30-year career in teaching.

Andrew then embarked on another rather unexpected career when he was appointed CEO of the Pietermarizburg Chamber of Commerce.   The selection of an educator rather than a businessperson raised some eyebrows, but Andrew was in his element in the new position.  He proved to be an energetic and imaginative leader, progressive in his views and adept at building consensus for new ideas and projects.  He even took time from his professional duties to obtain an M.Com degree (in Leadership) from the University of Natal, as a mature student of sixty-six!   After fourteen years in the Maritzburg position, he accepted an offer to become CEO of the Durban Chamber of commerce in 2011.  Many of us met him there after an interval of half a century when he attended our 50 year reunion celebrations.  Here he is at our reception:

...and here he is at our reunion dinner, with Adrian Tronson and Vernon Goss:

Andrew was a highly regarded leader of the Durban Chamber of Commerce.  He developed a reputation as fine public speaker -- perhaps making full use of the stage presence and vocal modulatons he had learned in his years at DHS:

Andrew was also a talented writer and he was a well-known regular columnist for The Witness, The Mercury and Public Eye newspapers, producing articles on contemporary business, education, and societal affairs.  He retired from the Durban Chamber of Commerce in 2015.

In 2019 Andrew moved to the Hilton area to be close to family members.  Unfortunately he fell ill with cellulitis (a potentially dangerous bacterial infection), and passed away   from complications of the disease on 16 October, 2021.   News of his passing brought an outpouring of tributes from friends and colleagues.  A typical comment, from the president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, was that  "Andrew was solid, sensible, measured, and kind, someone you could always rely on to do the right thing".

Andrew Layman is survived by his children Amanda, David, Guy, and Olivia and  their families, including five grandchildren.  (His brother Colin, who was DHS class of 1964, passed away from complications of covid-19 in September 2021)

Andrew Layman led and enjoyed a life of both service and leadership, surrounded by family and friends.  As his family told us:  "Andrew had a great innings, a life well lived".

A  moving memorial service for Andrew was held on 26 October 2021.  The service was recorded and can be viewed at


[Special thanks to the Layman family for their help with this In Memory notice]

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04/11/21 01:54 PM #1    

Richard Bell

Andrew had a distiguished career.


Well done, all concerned, on writing a comprehensive eulogy.



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