Sunday, 27 May 2018

Profile: The Dicks

Quinton and Jeannette Dick are a major force at St Patrick’s. Jeannette is the sacristan and used to clean the chapel weekly; Quinton is Alternate Chapel Warden, Treasurer and lately has played a huge role in building up the chapel garden to magnificence. Their loyalty, service and devotion are an example of disciple hood.

Quinton John Dick was born on 3 May 1937 in King William’s Town. His father was Charles Wallace Dick and mother Eleanore Myrtle Dick nee Passmore.  ‘At age two I was so severely ill that Dr Doran was prepared to sign the death warrant. Mom had a convincing vision that I would live. I did.  In my formative years Dad was a prisoner of war in Italy and Germany. He was forced to do the six hundred-mile walk across Germany, and eventually to freedom, so Mom had to raise me over those four years.’ Quinton continued, ‘I was the younger son by five years, so was subject to some bullying but I survived. I went to St Andrew’s Preparatory School and St Andrew’s College for my education.
At Stellenbosch I completed a BSc with Agricultural Economics as a major.  I played hockey uninterruptedly for Stellenbosch 1st team and Western Province Country Districts and was twice selected as the SA Country District goalkeeper. Coming back to the Eastern Cape, I represented Border and Border Country Districts at Interprovincial hockey festivals.’

‘I farmed with Dad until the war damage caught up with him. In 1963 I had the luck of my life. I found a wonderful woman who agreed to marry me. One doesn’t get luckier than that? We have four sons in our married life, who have all done especially well in life – far better than their father.
Financial problems forced me to further my education and I took eight years to qualify as a Chartered Accountant while farming. The hours were never long enough to do all that was required. I qualified with a B Compt (Hons) degree and a CA, SA.

‘While doing my articles as an accountant, Jeannette ran the farm better than I ever would have and we managed to keep the “magistraat” from the door. Although our sons had an amazing life style on the farm, none wanted to farm, and preferred to follow their chosen careers, so we sold our Quit Rent Grantee farm, and moved to Tilty Hill, a farm in the Nahoon Valley of East London, where we grew 30,000 banana palms on drip-irrigation, had a Touch farm and Tea garden, and a Bed and Breakfast (16 beds) and Conference Centre. We sold Tilty Hill in 2006 and came to a jungle at Hidden Away in Hogsback.

‘A lot of hard work and inspiration went into developing an exciting garden which we trust will really glorify God. We just love to show visitors our garden and the many ways that God can cause stunning pleasure to all that come to see His creations.

St Patrick’s has been a very important part of our lives and we feel completely at home in the positive atmosphere of our congregation. We feel really proud to be part of it too.

Jeannette Dick was born on 18 July in Bedford as the 4th of 6 children (3 girls and 3 boys). Her father was Pieter van Aardt of Patryshoogte, Cookhouse and her mother was Cynthia Hundermark originally of Jagersfontein. Jeannette had a carefree childhood on the farm, Eastpoort. She still remembers ‘the smell of pepper trees on a hot day, rain falling on the hot earth, coffee beans roasting in a wood-fired oven and newly-baked bread’. Her ‘best friend and nanny was Annie Pungulwa, who told Xhosa stories, read from her Xhosa bible’ and the whole family went to her funeral in Cookhouse. The family lived through droughts, floods, hard times and fun times, ‘and then there was school’.

Jeannette was sent to school at North End Grey in Port Elizabeth with her sister. Like so many others, her bad memory was being sent to the dentist. Months later a farm school was started called Nil Desperandum to which she was sent. At this school, a male teacher taught four levels – Sub A to Std 3 - and used a quince stick on those who did not do their homework. Nevertheless, he was not liked ‘hated’ and the children hoped the tokoloshe would get him. What was great fun was going to school in a donkey cart driven by Blokkie and racing the other donkey cart with the three Moolman kids. Being closer to school, she normally won until the Moolmans upgraded to a mule cart. So, her Dad also upgraded to a mule cart and they were back in the race, ‘but just seeing the dust bowl coming towards us along the road turned us frantic and we had to hold onto our starched kappies so as not to lose them, we sped to school.’ 

Her 3rd school was Belvieu in Somerset East while her two older brothers went to Gill College. She remembers ‘wurgpatats’ (sweet potatoes) whose fibres choked the children so that when they were given envelopes to write home on Sundays they would put the sweet potato scrapings into the envelopes and post them into the rubbish bin! In Std 2 she went to the Bedford Convent, (imagine an Afrikaner among the Roman Catholic Rooinecks!). She struggled with doing embroidery which was compulsory. She remembers being rationed sugar which had to be shared between the porridge with worms, a slice of bread with fat and weak tea which is what the meal consisted of (no wonder she still has a sweet tooth!). Then the family moved to King William’s Town and Jeannette was able to repeat Std 3, come in the top three and enjoy school, especially gymnastics and swimming. She remembers racing a handicap race against Joan Harrison when she started on the count of 1 and Joan on the count of 20. They were both disqualified! 

Jeannette trained as a General Nurse in the Provincial hospital in Port Elizabeth and attended Sharley Cribb Nurses College where she won a gold medal and passed cum laude. Then she studied midwifery at Mater Dei in East London (now St Dominics) and passed cum laude. She became Sister on night duty at Grey Hospital, King William’s Town and then moved to Cape Town where she studied Mother Craft at Lady Buxton Home and loved the babies who were to be adopted. Then, ‘Quinton decided to ask me to marry him. He proposed on de Waal Drive. How could I not agree? We could have had an accident!’ They married a year later: Quinton studied accounting; Jeannette ran the farm. They had four sons who all had a wonderful childhood and matriculated from Selborne College. The family grew up at Tilty Hill farm outside East London.

 In 2006 Quinton and Jeannette left their farming friends and retired to Hogsback. They bought Hidden Away which had belonged to the Schonlands. The old buildings were knocked down and a magnificent home built. Hard work and dedication was also given to the garden which has become one of the finest show gardens of Hogsback. Jeannette and Quinton’s hospitality and magnificent meals are legendary. The couple are fully involved socially, and are vital members of the garden club, Probus, Jikani and St Patrick’s. 

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