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News > ODs Around the World > Where are they now? Richard (Rik) Coke (1963,O)

Where are they now? Richard (Rik) Coke (1963,O)

A walk down memory lane with Rik and Lynn.

We received the following detailed letter from Richard (Rik)Coke who shares his news and takes a trip down memory lane:

Dear ODU

The “Bishops 175” celebrations are a landmark in the history of Bishops – or perhaps more properly The Diocesan College. I started at Bishops at the Prep under the headmastership “ Vandy ” van der Byl), while Hubert Kidd – supported by his wife, Mary – was headmaster of the College. Other notable teachers were “Piley” Rees, Mr. Currey, the indominatable Andy Robinson, “Trader” Hunt (housemaster of Ogilvie) , Sir Wilfred Robinson, “Ma Frikkie”, and Mr Alheit (who both taught Afrikaans with distinction).

All these people have left their famous marks on me … and probably many others. Boys of my era that come to mind are “Jumbo ” Anderson (who added a stabilising weight to the 1 st team scrum as 8th man), Collins, Harper, (I forget their given names), Bruce MacGregor and his older brother, James, and Peter Owen-Smith (whose younger brother, Michael, was in the Prep).

On leaving Bishops, I was drafted into the S.A. Navy to do the regulation National Service required of white males at that time. I had in fact volunteered for the Naval Gymnasium, and was duly sent off to SAS Saldanha in January 1964. There followed 9 years of “service” which was monthly parades at SAS Unitie – the Cape Town base of the Navy.

In 1965 I registered for the first time at U.C.T. for a degree in Engineering. All 1st year engineering students did the same courses. Only after passing into 2nd year did one choose which branch of Engineering you wanted to study – I chose Civil Engineering (following my grandfather’s example of a Mining Engineer). Not being clever enough to understand the essential Mathematics first time round, it took me 2 years to pass each year of maths. However the Professor of Civil Engineering, (Prof. Maurice Kaplan) who had come to teach after a successful career managing his own construction company, kindly encouraged me to “stick to your guns, young man”, and I eventually got my degree.

I had joined a firm of Consulting Engineers – Jeffares and Green – while a student, and stayed with them for something like 6 years, involved in road construction and later geometric design of roads. Those were happy years at Springbok in the Northern Cape – where I made friends with the Quantity Surveyor for LTA Construction, Richard Woodward, and his assistant John Barday. Then came the move to Johannesburg City Council’s Engineering Depart, led at first by George Harrison, and followed by Dave Read.

The head of the Design Branch was one Alec Hay at the time. After some years in the Design Branch as an assistant engineer to the Chief Engineer, Louis Katz (roadworks), I became interested in the management of “Solid Waste” (plain refuse to most people!) and was involved with the design and construction of the then new Goudkoppies Landfill Site. A few years later I moved to the Wastewater Department where Joanne Janse van Rensburg was the Chief Design Engineer. It was in the treatment of wastewater that I found my personal niche in the Engineers Department. I retired in 2011 at the grand “old age” of 65.

I remained a bachelor until after my 50th birthday in January 1996. At a party at a friend’s house, I met Lynne Adlem – a widow with three sub-teen children, René, Vaughan and Emile. We were married in October 1996 by Bishop Geoff Davies (also an OD). We lived in Kensington, Johannesburg until I retired in 2011.

René married Gerhard Kleinhans – they have 2 children, Renétjie, and Joshua. Both Vaughan and Emile are still un-attached at the time of writing this letter. We spent several years after my retirement looking for a suitable place for a quiet lifestyle, after the rushing hustle & bustle of Gauteng. We eventually found this property on the outskirts of Uvongo on the Natal Sout Coast, where I now live with my wife Lynne, a strong Ridgeback-cross Staffie, Zoë, and two cats, Leo and Bella. It is a 4.2Ha small holding. We have called it Kairos Eirenes (Attic Greek meaning “A Time Of Peace”).

My brother, Micheal M. Coke (also Ogilvie) died a few years ago. His wife wrote to the ODU to keep them informed, but made no reference either to me or our Mother, Mary (neé Barry) whose brother, my uncle Adrian, was a boarder in Founders in about 1915 to 1925.

He became a Spitfire pilot, and “ did not return – presumed dead ” towards the end of WW2. Mum’s other brother, Richard “ Dick Barry ” was a well-known member of the S.A. Mountain Club, and who made the first assent of Monks Cowl in the Drakensberg somewhere in the 1920’s – but died after a fall while descending.

I hope this will fill some of the gaps of my life and family, and make connections clearer for the ODU.

Yours sincerely


Richard A. Coke (Rik)

Member of SEED

Division of SAICE Member of Institute of Waste Management (IWMsa)

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