If men were to form the foundation of society and not their achievements and their characters, then Standerton has lost a large portion of its foundation in the passing of Mr. John Cairncross. But John George Roscher Cairncross, who departed this life on Wednesday, 3rd December, has laid a firm foundation of achievement and character on which Standerton can build as long as time lasts.
In his sojourn in this town for more than half-a-century he was for 27 years a town councillor and mayor on seven occasions. He was chairman of the Hospital Board for five years, and secretary and chairman of the local Agricultural Society for many years and of recent times a life member.
But not only in civic and business matters did he edify and aid his fellow men. In sport he took an active part and set an example of how to play the game. He held offices as secretary and president of the local golf club, president of cricket and football clubs, founder and first president of the Bowling Club, and the first chairman of the Standerton Boy Scout Association.
Looking at this record convinces anyone of the many who will mourn the passing of John Cairncross, who filled such a large place in the community that people will feel they must look far and wide to heal the breach that has been made.
The outbreak of the Second World War found Mr. Cairncross Mayor of Standerton.
A great burden was put on his shoulders. He was appointed liaison officer for the town and district, and Chairman of the Governor General's Fund. The occasion showed the immense capacity he possessed for personal effort and organisation.
It was through a great part of his efforts that the Air school was established at Stanfield Hill. At the close of the was the responsibility of Chairman of the Discharged Soldiers' Demobilisation Committee fell on him.
The success of a public figure is mostly gauged by his business ability and here the late Mr. Cairncross distinguished himself.
He first entered business with Mr. A.C. Kelly, but soon afterwards was offered the position of manager of the newly-formed Co-operative Society which was formed in 1907. Five years later he took a larger burden upon himself as manager of the Standerton Creamery, a post which he relinquished in 1939.
It was then he founded the existing business known today as Cairncross & Cairncross & du Plessis, a thriving business built and conducted on sound principles such as John Cairncross knew and practised.
Mr. Cairncross was born in Swellendam in 1875. Four years later his parents went on trek and settled in the Vrede district, where he grew up and became a successful young farmer. When the Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1898 he threw in his lot with the Boers and served as Adjutant under General Prinsloo. When the latter surrendered the young adjutant escaped through the British lines with 18 Boers and joined the roaming forces scattered over the country.
Later he was captured near Vrede and was sent to a prisoner camp in Ladysmith, Natal. It was after his release that he trekked to Standerton where he sold his first load of oats which enabled him to start business and become one of the most influential men that the town has known.
Much of what Standerton has become as a centre of the Eastern Transvaal and the lead it has taken in many aspects can be attributed to the efforts of John Cairncross. He helped to lay much of the foundation of the town and his achievements and character are left to sustain that foundation.
To his wife, who has done a giant share in helping him in his grand endeavours and his children and their dear ones we extend our sincerest sympathy. We too mourn him as a father of this town, and in his works he will yet remain with us and contribute to the progress of the community which meant so much to him.
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