Obituary: Mr José Luíz de Selavisa Alves

[known as "Jico" to his friends]
The Hongkong Telegraph 11 July 1927

Counted amongst the earliest foreign settlers in the Colony, the late Mr Alves came over to Hongkong from Macao while yet a very young man and, because of his knowledge of the English language, soon found employment in the Government service. He joined the Harbour Office in a junior clerkship, and by dint of his zeal was successively promoted until he attained the position of Chief Clerk in the same department, retiring from service on pension when he attained the age limit.

The late Mr Alves' only and older brother, João Miguel Alves, was also a Government employee. When the latter left the Civil Service he held the position of Chief Clerk in the Colonial Secretary's Office.

In his younger days, the subject of this notice took an active part in outdoor sports in Hongkong, was a prominent member of the then leading sporting association in Hongkong – the Victoria Recreation Club - and took a lively interest in all the Club's activities. Mr Alves was himself a good swimmer and was the teacher of his large family of boys in the natatory art. His sons have since maintained the old gentleman's connection with the VRC, Mr AES Alves being its efficient honorary treasurer for a number of years, while Mr AA Alves, the popular member of the Hongkong Stock Exchange, remains up to this date a member of the Committee of the VRC.

In horse racing his two eldest sons owned quite creditable stables both here and in Shanghai. His eldest son "Jack" was an original member of the International Race Club at Shanghai he owned and rode his own ponies at Kiangwan and was a regular rider in the cross-country hunts. Mr AA Alves, until two years ago, raced at Happy Valley, and is today the official timekeeper of the Hongkong Jockey Club, while "Charlie" has functioned to general satisfaction as the efficient handicapper.

Every one of the Alves boys belonged to the Hongkong Volunteer Corps when they were younger in years. Of an intense patriotism, Mr Alves senior was not unmindful of the civic duties which, he conceived, his family were bound to perform for the home of their adoption, so that the name of his boys will be found enrolled in the membership of the local Volunteer Corps. When a Volunteer contingent was decided upon to represent Hongkong at the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, Mr AA Alves and Mr AES Alves had the honour of being selected as Hongkong representatives and proved very efficient units among the Hongkong boys.

During the Great War, when the Police Reserve Force was formed, Mr Alves supported the movement to the extent of having his two sons to enlist, both (Messrs AES Alves and CMS Alves) attaining the rank of Inspector of the Police Reserves Portuguese Company.

His youngest son, Mr EAS Alves, joined up in Hongkong and went to the front at the time of the World War. Thus will be found a unique record of public service to Hongkong which, if not measured in terms of dollars and cents, will be seen to represent, in the aggregate, much worth to the Colony and the residents in general.

It has just been said that the deceased possessed intense patriotism. That virtue was not of an academic character in Mr Alves. He believed in action rather than in words, for the practical manifestation of his patriotic sentiments among his compatriots with whom he lived. There can be little surprise, therefore, that he figured among the few founders of the Club Lusitano in Hongkong in 1866. In that institution he took a deep personal interest. For several times he was elected by popular vote to President, and it can truly be said that at no time did the Club Lusitano flourish so well as when the veteran President directed its affairs. When the Club celebrated its Diamond Jubilee recently Mr Alves was made an honorary member of the Club by public acclamation, in recognition of his signal services to the community. He enjoyed the further distinction of having his photograph hung upon the wall of the large social hall of the Club. It was on the occasion of the unveiling ceremony that, in returning thanks to the Club members, he feelingly spoke of the Club as a casa que eu amo tão bem (the institution that I love so well)!

In all affairs appertaining to the Portuguese community, Mr Alves took pleasure in being identified – in social, educational and recreative matters. He was a keen advocate of the teaching of the Portuguese language, since by its neglect he thought nothing would so greatly contribute to the denationalisation of the Portuguese in the Orient. The best monument to this leading and guiding spirit of the Portuguese community in Hongkong stands in the Club Lusitano, for the maintenance and support of which Mr Alves again and again addressed its members at public gathering to give it their loyal and unstinted support.

In recognition of his long period of unsparing service to the Portuguese in Hongkong, the Portuguese Government conferred upon the late Mr Alves, about ten years ago, the honour of a Commander of the Most Ancient Order of Christ. Of this distinction the recipient and his friends felt proud for the old gentleman.

In January next year Mr Alves would have attained his eightieth year of age, so that he had attained to a very ripe old age, maintaining to the very end his accustomed vitality which was the outward and visible signs of a remarkable physique and fine constitution.

As one who has been intimately associated with him for a number of years and one in a special position to realise the extent of his devotion and good will for the well-being of his own people, I can, in conclusion, truly remark that:

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to mis'ry (all he had) a tear,
He gained from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.