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News > Archives & History > Charles Currey (Past staff)

Charles Currey (Past staff)

Stained glass window in memory of Charles Currey (Past staff)
Memorial Window of St. Francis of Assisi
Memorial Window of St. Francis of Assisi
A Memorial stained glass window of Saint Francis of Assisi was unveiled in The Brooke Chapel on Friday 14 September 2018. The window is in honour of Charles Patrick Currey, who taught at Bishops for 37 years. Rev. Bob Commin (College Chaplain) led the service, and family, friends, and ODs were in attendance. Our appreciation to Peter Westwood (Deputy Principal) and his team for making this special Memorial possible.
In the picture above is Peter Currey (1978S), his wife, Lisa, and their son Aidan (currently Grade 9 in School House), and Peter's sister, Elizabeth.
Please see some more photographs under 'Photos', and 'School News'.
The picture of the lady standing in front of the window is of Anika van der Merwe, the artist.
For your convenience, we have included the Obituary on Charles as taken from the DC Magazine December 2011, pg 184-188. 

CHARLES CURREY: Charles Currey died on Monday 22nd August 2011. He had been unwell for some time. Many of you will remember Charles. He was at Bishops for 37 years (1955-91). He taught Physics, Maths and Physical Science. He was Head of the Science Department, Housemaster of Ogilvie House and in charge of the Cadets. He became Vice-Principal in 1987 until his retirement in 1991.
Eulogy delivered by John Gardener:
Charles Patrick Currey, born on St Patrick’s Day, came of a distinguished Cape family. His father, Ronald Currey, was Rector of Michaelhouse and Head of St Andrew’s, Grahamstown. Charles was at school at St Andrew’s Prep and Michaelhouse, going on to graduate in Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Oxford. After teaching awhile at Sevenoaks, Kent, he came to Bishops in 1955 where he remained till 1991. His contributions here were immense. He taught chiefly Science and was Head of that department. He was Housemaster of Ogilvie from 1965 to 1976. Our studies were side by side next to the wind tunnel when I was Gray Housemaster in those days of only two dayboy houses. Charles was in charge of a famous Signals Platoon – about which he was reminiscing to me just over a week ago – and was OC Cadets for four years. He ran the Democritus Society, the Chess Club and the Mountain Club. He coached rugby and hockey and was in charge of the lighting of plays when Sam Butler did the scenery. He was one of the lay ministers in Chapel. He was, with Mona Leeuwenburg, one of the prime movers in the introduction of computers at Bishops and later the addition of Computer Studies to the curriculum. And he was appointed Vice-principal in my years as Principal, being replaced on his retirement in 1991 by no fewer than five Senior Masters. This move was made for a range of reasons, but it entitled him to considerable enjoyment of the implications. Charles was, in all the right ways, old-fashioned. When all is said and done, he was quite simply a thoroughly good man, a gentleman. He was steeped in the ethos of those Christian-based schools he knew; he cherished the eternal core values, virtues and verities that shine forth in such schools despite their inevitable shortcomings. He once declared that the greatest change in his years at Bishops had been the growth of ‘the attention given to each individual boy’. And he was also ever ‘a man of the mountains’. For them he had deep love and rigorous respect. He would have been most proud of his foundation of the end-of-year Cederberg Adventure Course in 1968, which has subsequently been greatly expanded. Let his own words speak about this, for they reveal something of the man himself. ‘We tried to teach the boys to get on with each other and work together when they were exhausted but when there were still vital chores to be done; to help each other when necessary by carrying part of someone else’s load if he had blisters or a headache; to think of others first and self last…We hoped it would bring out qualities of leadership, by boys’ having to make sometimes vital decisions affecting others without outside help. I hoped it would give boys a love of nature, of wild solitary areas and of mountains.’ It was, however, true that this last hope worked the other way with a few of the staff members he dragooned into participation. We all treasure our own memories of Charles. Apart from being left-handed, he had few blemishes. We recognise this description of his characteristics: ‘Dry sense of humour, unfailing courtesy, insistence on high standards, deep interest in the welfare of boys and staff.’ Another is this: ‘The one word that shouts for inclusion about CPC is surely “loyalty” - to family, school, country, mountain and his colleagues.’ And another: ‘Pickles somehow managed to combine his craggy literal pragmatism with shafts of delicate soaring irony.’
We are proud to publish the following tributes sent by ODs worldwide
“Pickles” was one of the teachers who really had a big influence on me when I was at Bishops. I was in his Physics class from Std 8 to Std 10 and I also did a year of physics with him in Post Matric in 1966. His teaching has stood me in good stead for the rest of my life and given me an enduring interest in science. I subsequently became a physician, but am still a physical scientist at heart. His teaching enabled me to take the second place in the whole country in Physics in Std 10 in 1965. I still have the book which the external examiner sent me as a reward for my efforts. I also went on to take the Physics Medal in first year Medicine at UCT in 1967. Pickles was a demure man and one could never accuse him of going out of his way to crack a joke, but I have a clear memory of an incident that occurred one morning when we were in Std 10. It was after some girls from St Cyprians had started coming to Bishops in the mornings on some days of the week to work with the Post Matrics. As we were doing physics, a group of these girls walked past the window with their teacher (outside the Chapel). A wag in the class piped up “Pardon me Sir, but what are those girls doing here?”. Pickles came straight back “ They’ve come here because we’ve got some equipment that they haven’t got!” I think it took about 5 minutes for the laughter to die down. I will never forget Pickles, his love of Newton’s Laws, and his van der Graaf generator. I am very sad to hear that he has passed on, but I am sure he is up there amongst the angels, chewing on his pipe and teaching them physics.
Jim Muller (1957-65)
I remember Mr Currey fondly even though I think I was one of his less favourite physics pupils. He had a quicksilver wit and a great sense of humour. His curved smoking pipe with its silver lid was always handy and it usually disappeared belching blue smoke furiously into his tweed jacket pocket as he crossed the jamb of his next class. An unforgettable character!
Paul de Wet (1961-64)
I received this from John Brock (1949-58)
I remember him as the man who gave me the mountains. I was climbing alone in the Scottish mountains when a mist came down and it was too thick to continue so I sat down on a rock and stocked up my pipe. I must admit Charles said that I was smoking a bit of a Herbage at the time. After about an hour a voice called out through the mist from some distance away, I called back and the fellow found me. Do you know the way down? he said. Charles answered that he did not know the way down but not to worry he’d get him down safely. At this point the lost climber said he knew that Charles must be somewhere nearby because he could smell his pipe!!
Richard Starke (1950-57)
This saddens me - Pickles as we used to call him, made a valiant attempt, with me, to keep physics simple and fun. His dry and wry sense of humor was evident during his daily lectures. I enjoyed his labs and sitting in the back of the bench seating in the old physics classrooms.
David MacMillan (1975-81)
I remember Mr Currey very well and he was my housemaster at Ogilvie from 1965-1967 until I moved to White House and became a boarder. I really liked him and he was a great housemaster. He was very inspirational at that time as I had moved from our farm HADECO FLOWERS & BULBS in the old Transvaal to Cape Town with my parents and helped me cross that divide from “farm boy” to Bishops. My thoughts are with him during this period of mourning.
Hans de Leew (1965-69)
Charles Currey was a brilliant physics teacher who taught me physics in the early 80’s. He was a pillar of the Bishops I knew and he will be sorely missed by boys, parents, OD’s and staff.
Mark Moffitt-Jackson (1971-84)
We should thank and celebrate the wisdom that was passed on by Mr Charles Currey. Thank you sir! With sad condolence,
Ian Landless (1978-82)
Here for what it’s worth is a memory of Charles Currey. He was a rookie teacher when he came to Bishops. I was a second year in standard seven and I suppose a cheeky 14 year old. The fact that I remember him at all is significant since many of the teachers were not of fine calibre. He came into the classroom, one of those rooms in the north east corner of the ground floor of School House, with a broomstick and a ball of fine string. Brilliant! The cheeky 14 year old minds were filled with curiosity. He was about to teach us about Pi. He wound the string around a long length of the broomstick and counted the number of turns. Eventually he measured the length of the string and from that calculated a quite reasonable semblance of the value of Pi. He was a pleasant if dry man and I am glad to be able to pass on a positive memory of him.
Charles Frater (1949–58)
It was with sadness that I received the news of Charles’ passing; he played a huge part in my life at Bishops and particularly in Ogilvie House from 1972 to 1976. Charles was my Physics teacher when Physics and Chemistry could still be taken as separate matric subjects. I have fond memories of Charles’ dry humour, as he paced the classroom with his metre ruler, and of his sharing with us his passion for Physics in the classroom and the laboratory. He saw me through to a distinction in my final exam, which prepared me well for a successful academic career. Out of the classroom, I came to know Charles well though serving as a house prefect in my matric year, and then as Head of House in my post-matric year. I remember the prefects meetings (after chapel on Sunday evenings) at which Charles would listen to the views of all the prefects before applying his mind, his wisdom and his experience in coming to his decisions. In my experience he was open-minded, impeccably fair and forgiving – values and qualities that were inadequately recognised and even less appreciated by sometimes arrogant and hot-headed young men he was mentoring. The Bishops community is poorer for his passing, but richer for his contribution to so many of our lives.
Dr Anthony Stacey (1966-76)
‘Pickles’ somehow managed to combine his craggy literal pragmatism with shafts of delicate, soaring irony. I will remember his deep love and rigorous respect for the Mountain. Go well
James Gardener (1963-75)
That is very sad news. I was never great in the Maths and Physics, but Mr Currey was a brilliant master especially regarding extra murals like the Cedarberg week. He put me in charge of the most difficult group of boys and assigned us the most difficult route. In the beginning I was genuinely upset, but we did exceptionally well. On asking Mr Currey what his motive was afterwards – he said “ I was testing your leadership abilities and I am delighted you came through with flying colours. I never doubted you. ” My respect for him is immense. Thank you Sir for everything you so unselfishly meant and did for all the pupils who passed through your hands. May he rest in peace!
John Koster (1973-79)
Thanks for letting me know. Not having spoken to Mr Currey for some time, I did three years ago need some advice from him. It was like talking to my old schoolmaster – clear and precise, helpful and supportive and just so dedicated to his boys and the school. We will miss him and all he stood for. He will leave behind with us many warm memories.
Vince Van Der Bijl (1961-66)
He visited NZ a few years ago - he has a son here. Pity I missed him, he used to come my MCSA trips in the 70s. He got many pupils climbing through the Bishops Mountain Club and the annual Cedarberg Adventure Camp (which he started in ‘68 or ‘69). He was absolutely instrumental in fostering my interest in climbing. It was mum who persuaded him to include me in the Cedarberg Adventure camp - it worked, I never looked back after that.
Derek Richardson (1963-71)

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