Geoffrey Palmer (1954G) | 1941 -2018
Geoffrey passed away peacefully at home in Simon’s Town on 15 August 2018 after a short illness, aged 77. He is sadly missed by his wife Ann, and daughters Jane, Catherine and Elizabeth, and many friends.
His time at Bishops began in 1949 at Prep and ended after one year at College, 1954. Geoffrey then moved with his family to Johannesburg, where he matriculated at St Stithians.
His original career choice was geology, but he then decided to follow his grandfather’s career in Advertising. This was indeed a fortunate choice, very much in line with his intellect, creativity, and people skills. He worked for some years as accounts executive in agency firms in London and Johannesburg, but his heart was in his birthplace of Gardens, Cape Town, to which he returned to join Rightford, Searle-Tripp & Makin (1953G). From there, Geoffrey re-established a family connection by moving to PN Barrett, to whom his grandfather's old firm had been sold after his grandfather's death in 1941.
Around 20 years ago he encouraged Saatchi and Saatchi to establish representation in South Africa, which he then led as managing director and ultimately chairman until his retirement.
He was also a talented and enthusiastic musician. With no formal training he excelled in jazz piano, but had a “thing” about the black notes which resulted in limitation in performing in other genre! Nevertheless, when a child, his favourite party-piece was Beethoven's 'Für Elise'.
The attendance at the celebration of his life held at the Seven Seas Club in Simon’s Town of at least 150 friends demonstrated the affection and esteem they held for him. To quote extracts from a poem by a retired advertising colleague in London, Martin Druce, read out at the celebration “An Ode to Geoffrey”:
Farewell, dear friend, you will be sadly missed
Especially by the Druce’s
Who loved you – sober and p****d.
We laughed, (Oh Geoff your laugh)
We had a friendship that’s endured.
And now you’ve gone
Bon viveur, jazz pianist, talent extraordinaire
Not a bad Adman
And an excellent Goon impersonator
Larger than Life – Hamba Khahle.
Other OD friends present who have known Geoff for around 69 years were John Green, myself and Alexander Mac Donald, and Alex paid homage to Geoff’s musicality by playing a Lament on his bag pipes.
Patrick Henderson (1940G)