60 Years Later

Hundreds of Old Unionites and their families are planning on visiting their Alma Mater in August for the annual Interschools weekend.  The reunions associated with this event offers all alumni an opportunity to renew acquaintances with old friends, reminisce and learn about the post-matric lives of classmates.

One such Old Unionite, Dick Williams, Class of ’59, will also be making the trek to Graaff-Reinet to attend Interschools and to share in the school’s Centenary celebrations.  When asked why – a full 60 years after having matriculated at Union High School – he plans on attending this year’s Interschools, Williams simply said, “the school has an undeniable pull on me”.  According to Williams, he was but a “scared Karoo dorp boytjie” when he started his Standard 5 and high school career as a boarder in Union’s Arthur Kingwill House.  “Opposite the school in Caledon Street, the then Mayor had a big cage behind his house for his lion. At night its roaring could be heard across Graaff-Reinet!” Williams fondly reminisces.

The year after he finished his schooling at Union, Williams moved to the then Rhodesia with his family, completed military training and served off and on in the army while living there.  He then enjoyed a fascinating career in accounting, both in the profession and in commerce.  In 1980, Williams, his wife – with whom he has just celebrated his 54th wedding anniversary – and his two children moved back to South Africa for Williams to work at a Chamber of Mines company.  He was put on early retirement 20 years ago and according to Williams, “have never worked so hard in all my life since. In these times one just has to adapt – become portable.”

This will be the first time since his 25th reunion that Williams will be making the trip to Graaff-Reinet.  “Time is passing by so quickly and if I don’t take some action now, more of my class will have passed on.”  Williams says that he is especially looking forward to cheering on the Union teams in their respective encounters against Volkskool and to interact with as many people as possible in whatever walks of life they might be in.

“Life is great and God is good. I am blessed with energy and good health and look forward to catching up with old acquaintances and meeting new members of the Union community.”

According to Williams, there were several things he learned while at Union that has served him well in life.  The first being a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ.  “I found my faith while on a school camp. It was this faith that saw me through a nearly impossible time when my 21-year-old son died in a car accident.”

The second being good manners.  “Manners and respect were drummed into us in the boarding house’s dining hall. These qualities are sadly lacking in society today and are tremendously sought after.”

Lastly, the importance of giving in life.  “I’ll never forget the day Mr. Herby Arnott (our then headmaster) called us matrics into the hall and emphasized the importance of giving in life when we left school.

In conclusion, Williams, as a fellow Unionite, had the following advice to share with the Union learners of today: “Remember that you have tremendous potential – the world is at your feet. Be teachable, never stop learning, keep reading good books – they will open up your world. Take responsibility for what happens in your life and don’t play the blame game. It is not so important what happens to you in life, but how you respond to it.”