DR MARY RAE KNOWLING (DSG 1941)
JUNE LESTER (nee Van der Riet)
1932 – 2012
Headmistress DSG Junior 1983 -1998
There are possibly 3 generations of DSG girls who will remember my mother, June Lester, who died peacefully in Port Alfred just before Christmas 2012 after a short illness.
Those whose paths crossed Mom’s will recall that she was, in the words of her long-term doctor Bert Evans, “a true character” who touched many girls’ and colleagues’ lives through a career in education that straddled more then 60 years. From her first job in 1952 as sports mistress at Butterworth High School in the former Transkei, to St Andrew’s School for Girls in Johannesburg, and finally at DSG, Mom dedicated her life to teaching in every sense of the word.
Indeed it proved quite an experience spending time with Mom as she changed little through the years and so was instantly recognizable to her
former pupils. (you couldn’t miss her!) There was always someone who would rush over to recall being taught Afrikaans, or how to swim or play hockey, or who would relate the unforgettable interpretation Mom had of infinity (remember – she’d climb out the window and disappear into
the bush only to reappear at the classroom door minutes later!). Who could forget all the many musicals and plays, the art exhibitions, and field trip adventures. I still have a very clear picture of Mom and Aunty Pat Allison steering the school bus through the Addo elephant park, 2 dozen elephants in hot pursuit of 20 girls. Or Mom hanging off the back of a vehicle negotiating a Cradock mountain in search of Olive Schreiner. Life was never dull with Mom – there was always some ‘Taraah’ being brewed up for everyone’s enjoyment. Mom specialized in making everyone feel safe and secure, no matter how tough or precarious circumstances were. Surviving was her very special talent!
Similarly her pupils left a lasting impression on Mom and it is safe to say that Mom remembered every one. Woven into her vast repertoire of stories and anecdotes, which she recounted with the skill of the great raconteurs whom she admired so much, were memories of the many girls who’d passed through her care for decades previously. There were few, if any negatives, as Mom loved every one of her pupils. Her commitment to and fondness for you was exhibited in the many folders of creative writing that Mom kept fastidiously- some pieces older than me! Those treasures meant more than material things to Mom. She loved to catch up with past pupils and delighted in hearing news of girls she’d known. A recent highlight of Mom’s life was her inclusion in Bridget Cole’s wedding where she was overjoyed to be reunited with an impressive turnout of highly accomplished young women who she had taught as little girls 20 years previously. Nothing could have brought Mom more pleasure.
After 28 years in Grahamstown, Mom moved to Port Alfred 18 months ago where she and Jenny & Anthony Kitson built beautiful homes in the same retirement village as Sheila Sutherland (Teacher Lekazi). Suffice to say Mom’s last outpost was the happiest time for her as the proximity of such close friends with so many shared memories and experiences, in a matchless environment, provided a playground of the utmost contentment. Laughter and fun abounded, as always with lots of noise and so it was particularly sad when Mom fell ill In October 2012 and Mrs Sutherland passed away suddenly merely 3 weeks before her. Two gracious, elegant, gregarious, larger than life ladies who will be sorely missed by many, and especially me!
So I write this to thank each and every one of the DSG girls and the many colleagues and friends who made my Mom so happy. DSG changed our lives in countless ways and Mom was and I will be eternally grateful for that.
Jilly Lester (1986)
Louise Carlisle Mullins (White) (21.12.1912 to 17.08.2006)
Louise was the second daughter of Percy and Nell White of Henley Farm on the Fish River. She and her sister, Ellie, started their lives on Aylesbury, near Riebeeck East, but the ostrich slump forced the family away from that happy home. Their grandparents moved into Grahamstown to make a home from which the two girls attended the DSG. Thus began a life-long love affair with the school. After years of service on the Guild and also as a member of the Council, Lou was elected President of the DSG Guild in 1973, the year preceding the school’s centenary.
Straight out of school she became a matron at Fairlawn, St Andrew’s Prep. Over 25 years she nursed, fed, and, though not formally qualified, taught them. One Old Preppie’s tribute says “Lou – a woman who has thousands of children scattered all over the world who looked at her as a guide and mentor.”
The 18 year old matron did not appreciate the dangers of joining the Prep staff, for within three years she had been captured by Griff Mullins and within seven years she had two children, Lorraine, who was to follow them into service to the school and Jinny, highly successful in the early development field. Referring to his headmastership, Griff wrote “Lou did all the work and I got the credit.” Her unquestioning loyalty to husband and school continued after their retirement. And Lou was rewarded by being asked to unveil the new section of Fairlawn.
Now began a new career. She joined the Rhodes University Library Staff at the Exchange desk, learning also to repair books, a skill that she continued even after her second retirement. During that period she too used her nursing skills at her home, Dixon, to care consecutively for a father, a mother, a husband, a brother-in-law and a sister. Her devotion to family and friends is unforgettable. With equal loyalty, she served the Cathedral Parish in regular attendance, flower arranging and running the plant stall at the annual fair.
Her garden at Prep and Dixon, her abiding passion, were some of the brightest half-acres in town! Indeed she, the constant giver, was loved, most by her family. She is remembered with joy.
SONJA MALCOMESS (DSG 1942)
Sonja Malcomess was born on 24 August 1925 in East London.
Her parents were Hans Hasso Malcomess and Vera Kyhne.
Her father, a lieutenant in the First Prussian Cavalry served in the Imperial German Air Force during the Great War.
Her paternal grandfather, Hermann Wilhelm Malcomess, the founder of the firm, Malcomess Ltd., was a German Consul, as well as City Councilor, in East London.
Her maternal grandfather, Carl Christian Kyhne was a Danish Counsel in Rio de Janeiro.
She attended DSG, leaving in 1942.
She married Edward Theodore Krull, a partner in the Building Contractor firm of Fielding and Krull, in 1951.
They farmed on the banks of the Gonubie River at Manor Hill, prior to moving to the farm Wansley off the Macleantown Road in a curve of the Quinera River.
There she enjoyed her dogs (Great Danes, Ridgebacks and Alsatians), horses and garden.
She was active in Equestrian circles and the East London Agricultural Society.
Their children were:
Susan born 31 March 1953
Phillip Malcomess (U71) born 18 March 1954.
After divorce, in January 1960, she married Frederick Henry Kirsten.
They farmed outside Macheke, Rhodesia.
They also lived for a time in Malawi.
After divorce, she married Roy Allsopp.
They lived in Salisbury, Rhodesia.
She died 12 September 1977 in Salisbury.
Her ashes were scattered over her garden according to her wishes.
She was survived by her:
Grandchildren, Sarah Jane, Victoria and Anthony and son, Phillip (U71).