Gary Wallace (1958O)
Gary Wallace: 27.02.1940-19.06.2020
AN OBITUARY TO GARY WALLACE
We gather today to pay our tribute to Gary-- a devoted husband, loyal friend, doting Father and adored Grandfather.
It is truly impossible to capture the essence of such a special man in a few fleeting words at a time like this. All we can do is scratch at the surface of a full life lived, find some measure of comfort in the memories we share, and safeguard those memories in our hearts for the difficult days ahead.
We have been so lucky to have him in our lives – he was a gentleman, kind and considerate, always willing to help and assist a friend in need. He was a man of great personal integrity, unwilling to compromise his principles for short term gain or comfort.
Of Scottish parents who emigrated to South Africa in the late 1930’s Gary was born in Johannesburg on February 27th, 1940. His sister Margaret was born four years later and although they didn’t spend much time together in their formative years became firm friends before her untimely death from leukemia in 1988.
Gary loved everything about his childhood - he grew up with loving and attentive parents in the South African sunshine - a place that meant so much to him that he always referred to it as “God’s own Country”.
His school years were spent as a teenager at Diocesan College in Cape Town, “Bishops” as it was locally known. He was an avid and successful sportman – excelling at all manner of sport including athletics, cricket and rugby. One of his proudest accomplishments was his school record for the 100 yard dash, which stood for over two decades.
In 1961, he sailed from Cape Town headed to the UK. This was an incredible journey up the East African coast and through the Suez Canal. He was going to join Geigy pharmaceuticals as a trainee, for just one year, and then return home to enter the family business. On arrival at Manchester he was met with the devastating news that his beloved Father had passed away at the young age of 51. That loss was something that never left him and fundamentally changed the course of his life.
While he returned to South Africa on several occasions, he never moved back permanently and in fact his mother and sister would later emigrate to England. The trips that he did take were very special to him - once with Wilmslow Rugby Club in 1985 with his good friends Ian Stewart and Mike Broadbent, once for his schools 150-year celebration and again with Clare’s family in the winter of 2005. He took great pride in showing everyone “his” country with its rich history and wonderful scenery – from the imposing views of Table Mountain, to the beautiful beaches, game reserves and wildlife. He kept a hint of his accent all through his life.
Now living in England, he very much missed all his outdoor sports, and having tried cricket in the British weather and consistently getting wet, he decided that a new, more weather appropriate sport was in order… Golf! Gary’s love affair with the game of golf spanned sixty years, and his stories were numerous, and some legendary. Most days, he would return home from a round and pronounce either “I’ve cracked it!” or “I’m never picking up a club again!”. He was a great team player and over the years was a Member at various clubs including Mere, Northenden, and Lytham St Anne’s. He spent most of his golf days at Wilmslow Golf Club where he played up until recently with his great pal Ray Lascelles. He was so happy in later life to see his grandchildren pick up the game and would give them helpful hints or books to read to help them improve their performance.
In 1966 Gary’s eyes were drawn to a young secretary in another department, named Hazel. After two dates he bravely announced “You know I think I’m going to marry you!” and six months later they tied the knot on June 24th, 1967. His love for Hazel was immeasurable. They spent every day together over the course of their almost 53 year long marriage and their humorous chatter always put a smile on their families faces – they probably should have been on a reality TV show!
The first house they bought was in Knutsford where they were blessed with the birth of both of their daughters, Clare and Julia. Gary was a devoted father and was unfailing in his love for them both. He was their greatest advocate, was always a shoulder to cry on and keenly interested in everything that they did in life.
They eventually moved and spent the last 40 years living in Wilmslow and were delighted to have Julia and her family living so close. They would spend most Sunday evenings enjoying the culinary delights of Julia and Adam and visiting with the grandchildren.
Clare’s job had taken her to Washington DC where she ended up settling with her husband Craig. Even though the distance was great, Gary was always supportive of her move and they still found time to speak to each other almost every day. Both he and Hazel had many wonderful trips to visit them over the years which was fortunate because he did love to travel and spend as much time as he could in the sun or at the beach.
Gary was happy to see his two daughters settled down with sons-in-laws that worked hard and provided equally loving homes for his grandchildren. He relished being a Grandfather and was incredibly proud of all of their achievements – be they big or small.
He loved watching all sport whether it was golf, or his football team Manchester United and of course rugby. When it came to rugby he was never sure who to support – whether Scotland, England or South Africa - it typically depended on who was playing the best game at the time.
He was always able to put a smile on someone’s face and people were drawn to him because of his powerful personality. He had an infectious laugh and great sense of humour. Over the course of his life people always remarked that he had the “common touch” – he would mix with anyone and treated everyone the same. His memory and recall were an enviable trait and at the dinner table his ditties were well renowned – “Piddling Pete” was a firm favourite.
Gary had many interests – he was a prolific reader – everything from the morning newspaper, golf books but his favourite were biographies – particularly the life of Winston Churchill whom he admired greatly. He also enjoyed Christmas time because it gave him an excuse to watch the film he loved the most – Chariots of Fire – he said it touched on everything that he thought important in life.
He also loved music – anything and everything and he usually started with a morning chorus in the shower. He loved all genres – from Elvis to Country and later in life a love for classical music. He will always be remembered for Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” and the family agree that through life’s twists and turns this would definitely be his theme song.
Gary was a larger than life character who was never afraid to state his opinion. He always said he didn’t like the game of politics and would then launch into an interesting and varied view on the world, the political climate and particularly the situation in his beloved South Africa. His words of wisdom will be greatly missed.
He was always immaculately dressed and was fastidious – if Gary went casual it meant he took his tie off! His pride in personal appearance was not an act of vanity, but rather a way of presenting his “best self” to the world around him.
Gary was philosophical about death, and he did not fear it. He was a very spiritual man and had an unshakable faith. He believed that his end on this earth would not be the end of his journey.
Indeed, I think we can all be confident that, ultimately, although Gary has left us, his capacity for love and his personal code of honour are alive and well in his daughters Clare and Julia, and in his grandchildren Olivia, James, George and Ted.
Gary is looking down on his family today and until they all meet again will live on in their wonderful memories and in the heart. Until the family are reunited you will be greatly missed Gary, rest in peace.
To close and in the words of Winston Churchill “There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human, are created, strengthened and maintained”.