Obituaries

DickiDick Westcott, who played for the WPPS XI in 1939 and later became the school’s second Springbok cricketer, died at his home in Hermanus in January. Dick was a stylish batsman who played 51 matches for the WP Currie Cup side during the 1950s, and five test matches, against Australia and New Zealand, in South Africa between 1954 and 1958. The condolences of the WPPS community go to Dick’s family.

 

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Roland Cooke (Headmaster of WPPS 1987-1997)
Roly Cooke died on April 27th after a long battle with cancer, courageously fought.
Roly was born in Zimbabwe and attended Kingswood College in Grahamstown. He was an outstanding sportsman and in his matric year was chosen as wicket-keeper/batsmen for the U19 South African team to tour England. Among his team mates were Barry Richards and Hylton Ackerman. His headmaster refused permission for him to go as he felt the matric exam should be more important to him than playing cricket at an international level. Professional cricket’s loss was education’s gain and Roly went on to Rhodes University and a distinguished career as a teacher and headmaster.

He came to WPPS in 1987 after a spell as house master and deputy head of St Peter’s, Johannesburg.

With an innate understanding of the needs of the prep school boy he brought about many changes. These included:

• The end of streaming and formal exams before Grade 6
• The adjustment of the timetable to allow a prep period before sport.
• The monitor system, allowing more boys to develop leadership skills.
• The Headmaster’s Bursary Fund.
• Civvies Day to help fund bursaries.
• The upgrading of the old pavilion
• The development of the Buxton property to house the Sub A and B classes and staff housing.
• The opening of the nursery and reception classes.
• Academic colours
• The aftercare centre

He presided over the celebration of the school’s 75th anniversary, inviting back four of the previous heads.

As a headmaster, Roly was loved and respected by his pupils. Not only was ‘Mr Cooke’ a great cricket coach but he was a hands- on teacher, making sure that he taught every class on a regular basis…and he was fun!

To his staff, he was supportive and encouraging, always interested in new ideas and teaching methods.

After leaving WPPS in 1997, he taught in Pretoria and then became head of Morula Primary School in Botswana. In 2002, he was appointed head of the International School in Mafikeng. He retired in 2010 to run a B&B in Wolsely. Sadly his deteriorating health from that period denied him the retirement he deserved.

How proud he was that his youngest son, Chris (1991-99) who showed his talent first at WPPS has become a professional cricketer, playing as a wicket keeper/ batsman for County team Glamorgan in UK.

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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Richard Urbaniak (1994-2000) on Sunday, 8 September 2013. He will be sorely missed by family and friends.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.

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Lawrie Davies – the epitome of a gentleman and a scholar; a proper schoolmaster; a sage man; a kind man; a man of integrity; a man of few words (unless relevant or if his ire was raised – as in the Welsh proverb, “The wiser the man, the fewer his words”); a generous man; an articulate and witty man (evidenced by his several legendary farewell speeches); a warm and compassionate man; a man without guile and man of profound faith. He embodied all the attributes and talents one can only hope for in a teacher and mentor, which were all hallmarks of Lawrie’s life, and he embodied all values and characteristics we continue to endeavour to instil in Wetpups boys and young teachers today.
Held in high esteem by all who had the privilege to know him, Lawrie was a very significant figure at WPPS; he impacted the lives of all those who met him during his 16-year relationship with the School where he served with dedication, humility, good humour and wisdom. Fair-minded, he committed to high standards for himself and everyone else.
Lawrie will surely be missed by all who had the honour and pleasure of knowing him. What consoles us now is the knowledge that he is back again to his Heavenly Father’s embrace to enjoy the same love he so generously gave and showed through his life. We take comfort in knowing that he is now resting in the presence of God, cheering on the Welsh rugby team!
Gorffwys mewn hedd.

Rest in Peace.

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We were sorry to learn of the sudden death of John Williams on 20th September 2013. John, who was at WPPS from 1938 to 1942 was one of few surviving old boys who remembered being taught by founder headmaster CG Stansbury. He went on to St Andrews and then to UCT to study commerce. He soon realised that it was not for him, and enrolled instead at the School of Architecture. He proved to be a talented student and graduated with an Honours degree. A long and successful practice in Cape Town followed. John is survived by his wife Marjorie, twins Nicholas (WPPS 1953-60) and Andrea and six grandchildren, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.

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Johnny Rathfelder taught at Western Province Preparatory School from 1971 to 1994. Although he had had no formal training he was a gifted teacher and his pupils enjoyed his lessons. His wonderful sense of humour was evident in his teaching. How many boys learnt how not to farm through the ill-advised antics of Johnny’s farming characters Tannie Koba and Oom Koos, who used to milk his cows with a spanner!
He was the enthusiastic Head of Lasbrey for many years and his house meetings and reports were always encouraging.
He organised and coached swimming for the 24 years he was at the school but rugby was his passion. He coached the Under 10 A for an unbroken 16 years. Some of his players only came up to his knees and Johnny was often seen to pick boys up by the scruff of the neck and seat of the pants to move them to their correct place in the scrum.
They say all teachers are actors at heart and Johnny was no exception. He was involved in many staff plays the highlight of which was his performance as Policewoman Gladys in The Pirates of Penzance when he minced down the hall to the stage, stopping on the top step to the stage to ensure his seams were straight!
Johnny was a much loved colleague . He had a marvelous and ever present sense of humour and his witty comments and creative nicknames were enjoyed by all; there was never a dull moment when Johnny was around. Under the lighter side however, there was a genuine love of his pupils; he read them well and was the first to encourage the struggler or praise the achiever.
Johnny was everyone’s friend, respected and admired. He was a quietly generous man, who helped more people than we will ever know. He was loyal and honourable and it was a privilege to work with him. Truly a man who gave a great deal to the school community and beyond.

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Sadly past school secretary Christine Satchel lost her battle with cancer last Sunday. The funeral is on Thursday 30 January in the Bishops Chapel at 3.30.Our condolences go out to her family during this difficult time.

 

 

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