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News > Passing of friends > Michael Orpen (1957W) | 1939 - 2020

Michael Orpen (1957W) | 1939 - 2020

Michael passed away in Betty's Bay on 17th June 2020
Michael Orpen 2.12.1939-17.6.2020
Michael Orpen 2.12.1939-17.6.2020

Michael Orpen (1957W) | 1939 - 2020

Michael's son Neil (1990W) wrote this obituary on behalf of the Orpen family:

Dad passed away on Wednesday leaving a large loving family of children and grandchildren missing him terribly. The last few years with dementia have had been difficult for him as he realised his memory was fading but till near the end, he still retained so many memories of his early life growing up in post WW2 South Africa and his time at Bishops.

Dad’s Bishops life started in Founders but he volunteered to be transferred to be the first intake to the newly built White House which he spent the rest of his Bishops life-loving - he was immensely proud that the next two generations of Opens followed in his footsteps in White House, certain that it was the first family with 3 generations in White House, which to him was important. He loved being part of Bishops life while myself (1990 W) and Iain (1994 W ) were there and then when Iain’s children Liam ( 2019 W ) and Cameron (prep) also joined the cycle- to him it was reliving the best times of his childhood all over again and throughout his life Bishops and boarding life was a passion of his.

Dad loved many things but rugby and particularly Bishops rugby was a big deal. During my time at Bishops there can’t be many people that didn’t hear his roaring cheer from a rugby sideline supporting absolutely any Bishops side playing. I don’t think he missed a game during my five years there and there were few sporting away games or fixtures that dad didn’t drive from the farm in Somerset West to pick up as many team members that you could fit in a car in those days (when road safety laws were mostly seen as guidelines ) and transport them to and from a game. Whether a rugby team or rowing crew, they could almost always be squeezed into the 7 seaters. We had a fantastic time, always got there, were never late and all got back to school after watching the first team play.

As a parent, you realise what sacrifices your own parents have made in their lives for you, and we are lucky that our parents dedicated their whole lives to their family. Their joy was their children and grandchildren and we are lucky that most of them lived close to them in the final years. Nicki and I with our children have lived in the UK for the last 22 years and our regular visits home have been wonderful reunions for everyone. The internet seems to have developed to support those of us that don’t live close to loved ones and mum and dad got to grips with email, texting and even video calls as soon as they were developed. These calls were regular and kept everyone up to date with South African and English life - Dad and Mum still wrote beautiful old fashioned letters which the South African postal service would usually eventually get to the door it was intended, but we always knew we missed out not being right next door. We realised how hard this time would be when mum passed away a few years ago and it is terribly difficult now that Coronvirus has essentially closed South Africa’s borders until 2021 and won’t allow us to return to the rest of the family at a time like this.

We will all celebrate, in Cape Town, wonderful life as soon as rules allow and until then 3 children and 9 grandchildren will remember a wonderfully generous man and the wonderful life our families have all had together till now.


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