John Richardson, Staff ’63-’73

JOHN RICHARDSON (Staff 1963-1973) died in Cape Town on 20 March 2003 aged 63 after a short illness. PETER STEYN (Staff 1961-1970) spoke at his funeral and sent these few memories.

The church was filled to capacity and Falcon was represented by former staff members DOUGAL and JILL TURNER, PAUL and WENDY CANNON, PETER and BRIDGET PHILIPS, BRYAN and SHEILA ROFF and PETER and JENNY STEYN as well as by Old Falcons MARCUS GORDON and MARK HODGES.

John Richardson came to Falcon from Natal University to teach science and will be remembered by his pupils as rather easy going, but this did not mean he lacked discipline and respect for him came naturally. He had the knack of making a difference and taking on tasks that no one else wanted to do, for example he volunteered to be Quartermaster of the Cadet Corps. He founded the Printing Club and began to coach Water Polo, a sport that was considered not quite kosher as rugby and cricket completely dominated the sports arena at Falcon in those days. Within a very short time Falcon had made its aquatic mark in the Crusaders Shield and the magazine records that in 1964 we doused arch rival Peterhouse 22-2. John was adept at getting the best out of his players, which was especially remarkable as he wasn’t a very good swimmer himself!

In 1965 he married Cecilia Keith and inherited two small step-sons, Russell and Gordon. He was a wonderful father to them and they were soon joined by Brett, Ashley and Kevin in the burgeoning Richardson household.

John was my House Tutor in Tredgold and in 1970 he took over from me as Housemaster until he left Falcon in 1973. He continued his teaching career in Cape Town, notably at St George’s Grammar School, and at the time of his death he was teaching at Wynberg Girls High School.

John realised that his death was imminent and when I visited him he had accepted the end with dignity and courage. It was not in his character to rage against the dying of the light and he went gently into that good night. At his funeral I read part of a poem written by a friend of mine shortly before his death as it seemed appropriate to John’s life too:

“I’ll depart without fear or backward glance,

With honour beyond my youthful dreams.

I’ve had the love and loyalty of most faithful friends,

Qualities that shine like gems of rarity.

So when my life inevitably ends,

Then all who’ve wished me well so long awhile

Should not be sad; just think of me and smile.”

Marcus Gordon – Founders 1959-63; 22nd April 2003. If anyone has a suitable picture (e.g. from house / staff / sports photos etc) please get in touch

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One Response to John Richardson, Staff ’63-’73

  • John Richardson will always be fondly remembered, especially by me. In ’66-67 he taught me biological sciences and then physics-with-chemistry in the “B” stream. He encouraged me to pursue my interest in Chemistry, culminating in my decision to successfully study for a science degree majoring in Chemistry. This was despite my blowing a hole in the ceiling of the old science laboratory that stood by the squash courts!
    I thoroughly enjoyed playing water polo under him in 66-68 and often was the butt of his sly and dry humour. However it was never intended to hurt, and no offense taken.

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