OBITUARY FOR DAVID WILLOUGHBY ABBOTT
By Donald Fraser Bett (1966F)
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our 1966 matric classmate David Willoughby Abbott. (1966S).
He passed away at his newly built home in Stanford on Saturday 09 October. He had been bravely battling pancreatic cancer for some time.
After leaving school David became a highly successful stockbroker, later trading on his own account. He was a most astute and well respected businessman and will be remembered for his magnanimous nature.
David bought the farm Middelberg on the banks of the Klein River near Stanford in 1982. He built a
Manor house on the estate and later began farming cattle and maize. After he moved to Stanford he became a popular and important figure in the local community, involving himself in many projects to improve the town. He also purchased a considerable sized property on the other side of the Klein River. This he let out to tenants. According to local Stanfordian Andrew Herriot, in 2013 David was a major and generous benefactor to the Butterfly Foundation. The organisation was established by Andrew’s step-daughter Jamie and her husband on their wine estate Stanford Hills, to cater for special needs children. David sold Middelberg about a year ago and kept a plot on which to build a new home. A well attended wake for David was held by those who knew him in the town.
My own personal memories of David stretch back to 1959. As a 10 year old, my parents moved to Johannesburg after I’d spent two years as a dayboy in Charlton House. I decided to continue as a boarder and went to Stanmore at Bishops Prep. Here I befriended David. His parents Cecil and Betty took me under their wings and were extraordinarily hospitable and caring. I accompanied David out virtually every Sunday during the period 1959-60 and later in 1961 when we both moved to the newly built Birt House. On our way back to school on Sunday evenings we often stopped at Kyriarcos shop in Kenilworth Main road to get ‘tuck’ for the following week. I sometimes joined the Abbott family during the short holidays at their holiday home in Hermanus. As youngsters we had great fun fishing in Walker Bay at all the popular spots, where there was an abundance of fish in those days. David and his Dad were very good fishermen. David was also an excellent slalom skier at an early age. I was given the opportunity to learn to ski at Prawn Flats on the Hermanus Lagoon and have many happy memories of those care free days.
David went to School House at College and I went to Founders, so we rather lost touch. We met at various 1966 school reunions over the years and occasionally at his office in Claremont before he moved to Stanford.
I was in telephonic touch with David over the past few years, especially after I heard that he was ill. Regrettably we never got together, although we’ve been living in Hermanus for almost four years.
I’m sure that David’s family and friends will be able to do more justice to the full life that he had and fill in many of the gaps that I may have left.
On behalf of our matric class of 1966 we send our most sincere condolences to his ex-wife Sarah, son Stuart and daughters Chloe and Georgina. He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered. MHDSRIP.
David Abbott - an anecdotal tribute
by Simon Burrow (1968F)
We always knew David as ‘Crow’. Not for his features, but because he was a real grumbler. He was always grumbling and muttering about this and that.
But underneath that gruff exterior was a heart of gold. Compassionate, intensely interested in everything around him, and never shy to voice an opinion.
Crow used to love travelling - especially to Australia. When he arrived in Melbourne, the spare bed was always made up awaiting his arrival. Within 24 hours, he had recovered from his jet-lag and we were hauled off to watch him eat his “best meal in the whole world” - a crayfish omelette in a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Sant Kilda.
The rest of the table would be finished their main dishes when Crow would signal “another one, please”.
A favourite time of his was the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia in which one of his sons, Stuart played for England.
We were summonsed to accompany him to the semi-finals in Melbourne. On arriving back from work, we found all types of English apparel laid out on his bed for us to wear - and there we went decked out in the red rose head to toe.
Of course, at the match he had a grumble : we had to drink Australian beer, there was no English brands available.
As recently as the first test between the British and Irish Lions and the Springboks, we watched the match with Stuart and some of his mates - it wasn’t ten minutes before Stuart laughed and handed over his phone - there was Crow grumbling about the referee (long before Rassie Erasmus!). It continued throughout the match.
Crow was a proud and committed Stanfordian with his farm on the banks of the Klein River. The glitz of Hermanus was not for him, he loved nothing more than wandering around the local Agrimark in his shorts and bare feet grumbling about the weather and the crops with his fellow farmers.
On a Saturday he would arrive with a huge basket of eggs at Marianas restaurant in Stanford and a long chat over coffee and cake about the affairs of the day.
Crow, we’ll miss you.
To the family, we send our condolences and love. David was a special man.
Lovonne and Simon Burrow (1968,F)