Joan Harper (Van Lingen) (01.09.1926 – 28.02.2007)
Joan arrived at DSG in 1938 straight from a fairly remote farm in Middelburg Cape district, having been taught at home by a governess up to Grade 7. It took her, a shy 11 year old, a while to settle into the culture of other 11 and 12 year old girls and she braved a goodly amount of teasing in her first year. She got the lifelong nickname of Juffy as when asked her name, she would say she was Juffvalingen!!.. She initially stayed with an aunt but once she became a boarder she never looked back. She made lifelong friends, did well academically, played all the sports on offer, was a prefect and in those days, when we didn’t have a Head Girl she was awarded the very prestigious Good Fellowship prize, which was considered an acknowledgement of someone who most likely would have been Head girl. She went on to Rhodes where she did a BA Soc Sci and worked in Johannesburg for a while, then in London and later in Rhodesia where she met her life partner John Harper. They had 3 sons, all Old Andreans and when things got difficult in Rhodesia they came south and farmed in the Aberdeen district before retiring to the south Cape Coast.
I was 11 and Joan was 12 when we first became tentative friends and she asked me to spend a holiday on the farm. That first memorable holiday cemented our friendship and was the first of many wonderful school and Rhodesian holidays – in fact I can say that our friendship changed my life as the Van Lingens became my “other” family. Joan’s mother was a wonderfully hospitable lady with a huge sense of humour and she cheerfully coped with the gangs of girlfriends Joan would invite to spend holidays. Joan and I went on the Rhodes together and later to share a workplace and accommodation in Johannesburg, became god parents to each other’s children and never lost touch even though distance separated us in later life. It was a sad blow to learn that she was terminally ill and a huge sense of loss when she passed away peacefully on the 28th February 2007. A friend of 69 years, staunch, loyal and often hysterically funny – it will take time to fill the gap her passing has left.