Thursday, March 17, 2022


 Dear Classmates,


My first reaction to Jon’s request was “no ways” am I going to put myself on display. But then, perhaps he is giving us the unusual opportunity to write our own obituaries! So “OK”.

Being a hands-on mechanical sort of person, I entered my matric year with plans to go on to UCT (University of Cape Town) and study mechanical engineering. Then halfway through the year my father, getting bored after his early retirement, bought an apple farm in Piketberg, precipitating a rapid change in my career planning.

I remember well a year-end Afrikaans class with Frikkie Viljoen our Afrikaans teacher when he asked everyone what their future plans were. When I said “To go farming”, Godfrey Gird, coming from a Karoo farm, laughed and said “What do you know about farming?” Of course the answer was “Absolutely nothing”. But after four years at Stellenbosch University (U.S.), and with a BSc Agriculture degree in hand, a-farming I did go. Fruit farming must be one of the most technically challenging agricultural fields (pun intended), but what a wonderful life it was, enhanced by living in a close-knit community of like-minded farmers.

 And what an environment in which to raise a family. Growing up on a farm is something special, so little wonder that the four children that my wife and I raised turned out to be the sort of adult that would make any parent proud. Despite the long hours – sunrise to sunset until new labour laws intervened – there was plenty of opportunity to indulge in hobbies and recreation. 

My school and university sport of rock-climbing, at which I became reasonably proficient despite a distinct lack of skill at school sports, gave way to motor-sport, doing quite a bit of rallying, and a couple of sallies on to the track at Killarney, including one ill-starred attempt at the Killarney two-hour endurance race in 1962, where my co-driver and I managed to complete a grand total of three laps before blowing the engine. All this was of course in the days when local motor sport was not yet so commercialised; much like the club rugby of those days.  

But as one gets older (and married) one moves on to safer activities, and I became obsessed with golf. Although, the highlight of my golfing life was not on the course (apart from one solitary hole-in-one, and a flash in the pan round of net sixty three during a sponsored day) but in designing from scratch, laying out, and being involved in the construction of the Piketberg golf course, where the game was played for many years before being taken over for RDP housing.

The perfect life Donald and his wife Mariette

While at U.S. I was introduced to snow-skiing at Matroosberg (Ceres), and this became a passion which I chased with dedication. It took me to some of the most wonderful places: Bariloche and other Argentinian resorts; many ski resorts in Chile; the US Rockies in Colorado, Utah (Salt Lake City), Idaho, and Wyoming (Jackson Hole); the Swiss and French Alps; the Austrian Tyrol; and the Italian Dolomites. A great and exhilarating sport, described by one instructor as “dancing with the mountain,” and I managed to keep at it, accompanied by my patient wife Mariette until 2019.

I had decided that at age eighty-six, 2020 would be my swan-song, but unfortunately Covid stymied those plans.  Perhaps just as well! After nearly fifty years on the farm, and having lost the patience needed to deal with a large labour force, I called it quits in 2001 and retired to Langebaan on the west coast. A pleasant conclusion to a happy and satisfying life.

I look forward to hearing what the rest of you have been up to.

         Donald Goodspeed.


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