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News > Passing of friends > Julian Ogilvie Thompson (at Bishops from 1943 - 1952) sadly passed away on Friday 11 August 2023.

Julian Ogilvie Thompson (at Bishops from 1943 - 1952) sadly passed away on Friday 11 August 2023.

Julian was in Founders House in 1951 and did Post Matric in 1952 and was Senior Prefect (Head of School) in 1952.
Julian in his Bishops 1st XV Rugby days jumping for the ball against Paarl Gym 1952.
Julian in his Bishops 1st XV Rugby days jumping for the ball against Paarl Gym 1952.

Julian Ogilvie Thompson (1951F) was born in Cape Town in 1934.  He attended Bishops Prep and then College  (1943 - 1952).  The Principal at the time was Mr Hubert ‘Skip’ Kidd, of whom Ogilvie Thompson says he was lucky to have such a man as a Headmaster; to him he was “an aesthetic classicist”. 

Julian was Head of Founders (1951 & 1952) and Senior School Prefect  (Head Boy) in his Post Matric Year (1952).  In his Matric year, he earned numerous Scholarships including the Archbishop's Prize, and Subject Prizes including for Latin, French, Mathematics and Mechanics (today, Science).  He was the Student Officer in 1951 and 1952.  He headed up several of the co-curricular societies such as Debating, Literary and Play-Reading and was a member of several others. 

The fact that he won prizes in the Arts and Sciences showed him then already to be a polymath.  He was also very gifted at sport which made him an all-rounder; he received House Colours for Cricket, and played for the First Rugby XV (Colours) and was Captain of Athletics.  He was the Bishops Rhodes Scholar for 1953.  Before going up to Oxford, he went to UCT (having won the Alice Scholarship) where he was a member of the 1953 unbeaten U19A rugby XV.  At Oxford he was in Worcester College where he read for a PPE. 

He played rugby and Cricket whilst at Oxford.  Julian enjoyed describing his time at Oxford in the company of ODs Anthony Landsberg and Roger Whiting. 

He married the Honourable Tessa Brand in 1956, and in the same year Julian began work in Anglo American’s London Office, which was on 3 September.  They moved to Johannesburg in 1958 where Julian spent 46 years of dedicated service working with South African Industrialist, Harry Oppenheimer, and made a meteoric rise to the positions of Chairman and Chief Executive of the De Beers Group and Anglo American, one of the world's leading positions in the mining industry. 

They had four children: ten grandsons and two granddaughters and one great grandson.  Julian and Tessa were married for almost 64 years.  Sadly, Tessa Ogilvie Thompson died in January 2020 at age 85.  The couple shared a wonderful life together and many years of retirement-life, after Julian’s extraordinary career at De Beers and Anglo as well as his commitment to the Mandela-Rhodes scholarships, public life and working for social justice. 

He will surely be remembered as a pioneer for ensuring positive change in South Africa.  In a recent statement released by Anglo American, the following was said:

“Anglo American is committed to honouring his legacy by continuing to work relentlessly towards a thriving and inclusive South Africa.  His visionary leadership will be profoundly missed.” 

The ODU and Bishops community extend their condolences to their children, Christopher, Rachel, Anthony and Katherine and their families.


[The photo image used in this obituary was taken from Paul Dobson's Bishops Rugby - A History (published by Don Nelson, Cape Town, in 1990), p. 76.  This same photograph was used in an article on Julian's time at Bishops.  It has also been chosen as Julian so loved his rugby, at Bishops, UCT and then Oxford.  It seems that the referee is Mr Piley Rees the first Team coach at the time, after whom the Piley Rees Field is named; Piley was Julian's Housemaster in Founders.  It will be good to locate further related photographs].

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