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News > Passing of friends > Pieter Albertyn (1961S)

Pieter Albertyn (1961S)

"People like Pieter do not come along often."

We recently received this lovely write-up from Robin Dicey (1961W) after the passing of Pieter, December last year:

Pieter and I first met in January 1952. We were boarders in Rossall at Bishops. Very soon he demonstrated his extraordinary level of ethical fairness when he came to the rescue of another boy who was being picked upon.

This moral compass has been his personal signature throughout his life and I was assisted and guided by it a number of times throughout my life when faced with the occasional moral dilemmas we are all exposed to from time to time. ‘What would Albertyn have done in this situation?’ (Boarding schools were pretty formal places until a nickname was arrived at - Tuin in this instance).

He was a doughty fellow at school - brave, persistent and steadfast. Not brilliant either academically or on the sporting field he was nonetheless highly regarded as a fellow of sterling qualities. A goody goody he was not and on one occasion participated in a heinous escapade which would certainly have seen him expelled if he had been caught out.

Occasionaly he made bad choices - becoming a smoker at one stage for example. But this he overcame when he decided to become a marathon runner. Somewhat obsessively I believe.

He also made very good choices - one being falling in love with Ann and marrying her. And this marriage got off to a great start as for their honeymoon Pieter and Ann chose to go on one of those coastal cruises which were popular in the 60’s; from Cape Town to Durban and back on a Union Castle ship. Having been at their wedding I was very surprised when we saw them embarking, as a friend and I were doing the same trip. Poor Ann was deeply underwhelmed.

Pieter was determined to do the right thing: so every evening as our group was getting into the swing of happy hour Pieter would stand up and announce that he and Ann were going to bed and he would solemnly and correctly wish us all good night. Encouraging a blushing Ann to do the same.

He was interested and involved in politics. One story out of this was his belief that his party-line was being eavesdropped. So a plan was hatched whereby he got a friend to ring him. Those party lines operated on a system of coded long and short rings so that all other users of that party line were aware who was being rung. On this occasion he and his friend were talking of farming matters when Pieter interrupted the conversation to say that there had been an almighty bang and he just wanted to see what had caused it and would his friend hold the line for a moment. A minute or two later he resumed talking, telling his friend that there had been a huge crash out on the highway and that he’d better hang up and and go and see what had happened. Then he walked out to the road and sure enough within a few minutes cars were coming from all directions to see the ‘crash’ - which there wasn’t at all.

Pieter and Ann lived their whole lives in the southern Cape. I recall Ann saying early in their marriage that she hated the wind; and it really can blow down near the tip of Africa. Pieter was quiet for a moment before telling Ann that not only would she have to get accustomed to the wind she really needed to learn to love the wind. I’m not sure that Ann has ever quite got there.

They came to visit us in New Zealand a couple of years ago and were possibly the last people to get back into the country before Covid essentially shut down international travel. Margie and I stayed with Pieter and Ann back in July in Napier.

Occasionally in life it is one’s privilege to meet an exceptional person. I was even more fortunate - I was privileged to have an exceptional person as a friend for more than 60 years. People like Pieter do not come along often. We are blessed to have known him. The world has lost someone very special - a person who stands above most of us.

It is very evident that Pieter was a man of integrity and that he will be sadly missed.  Our sincerest condolences to the family and our thanks to Robin for sending us this tribute.

"People like Pieter do not come along often. We are blessed to have known him. The world has lost someone very special - a person who stands above most of us."

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