Nostalgic walk down memory lane for class of ’62

2012-05-23 00:00

FIFTY years ago, eight students at UKZN graduated as bachelors of agriculture majoring in animal husbandry.

Last weekend the class of 1962 had a reunion at Rabie Saunders building at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The old-timers enjoyed lunch and supper over fond reminiscences.

A farmer from Cedara, 73-year-old Iona Stewart (née Wise), organised the reunion. Stewart was 23 when she graduated and was the ­only woman in the class.

She told The Witness: “Women didn’t do agriculture. It was frightening and I was bit of a mouse and lonely at times but [the men] were very supportive and protective.”

Stewart said one of her lecturers didn’t want anything to do with her until she had graduated and then they became good friends.

Only Paul Goodwin, of Zimbabwe, could not be present, because of prior arrangements.

Eddie Meyer joined the group as an “honorary” member, and the only dairy science major.

The 1962 graduates were John Baxter, Eric Hulbert, Jebs Grant, Barend Poortenaar, Malcolm Bennett, Stan Parsons and Stewart.

They came from as far away as Tasmania, Australia and Zimbabwe.

“It was like 50 years had not passed since we last saw each other. There was just excitement, joy and didn’t feel strange at all,” said Stewart.

She hasn’t seen some of them in five decades.

Stewart said her former class-mates hadn’t changed much beyond weight gain and greying hair.

Their ages range from 70 to 73.

Stewart said they didn’t run out of conversation.

“There was a lot of chaos,” she added happily.

“We talked about some of the pranks we played on one another, university life and world affairs.”

She said it was “lovely” that they were all still alive.

“Of course, some are healthier than others.”

Some were suffering from cardiac problems and using hearing aids.

Dr Grant, a member of the original eight, spent 22 years in agricultural research and a further 20 as deputy director of the Commercial Farmers’ Union in Zimbabwe.

He gave a presentation and shared insights from his academic research and experiences with commercial farming in Zimbabwe.

“It was just amazing. I didn’t know how they were going to receive me. It feels like it has given some a new lease in life.

“It was a memorable weekend,” said Stewart.

• gabisilengcobo@witness.co.za

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