DICK KUYPER

    (formerly of Broadway View, Farringdon)

    Dick Kuyper died of old age three hours before his 98th birthday on 1st October 2010 at The Firs Residential Care Home, Budleigh Salterton.

    He was born in Holland in 1912.  His interest in nature started as a child when he spent every spare moment cycling, camping and canoeing with his school-mates, exploring the countryside, rivers and seashore.  He enjoyed school and learning and got a diploma in Engineering at college.  Apart from occasional engineering and building jobs and working on fishing trawlers in the North Sea and around the Orkneys, work was hard to come by during the 1930’s Depression.  So he emigrated to South Africa in 1935.  Apart from a couple of minor bridge and road building jobs, he still struggled to make ends meet, but enjoyed trips with friends into the wilderness taking photos of big game.

    I
    n 1939 when the war started, he had no intention  of fighting and considered himself a pacifist.  But when Hitler invaded Holland and Rotterdam was bombed, Dick was outraged and joined the South African Army as an engineer.  He was sent to North Africa and became a Leutenant.  His job was to survey and build roads for the safe passage of army vehicles through the desert.   His knowledge of the desert saved his men and the convoy that followed him, from ambush by retreating Germans.  Those that had gone before him were captured and taken as prisoners of war.  His heroism was mentioned in dispatches, and he received a medal and letter from King George.  Typically modest, he never told us until we discovered it while sorting through stuff after my mother Peggy died.

    He returned to South Africa after the war, met Peggy, the sister of one of his army engineering friends.  She was a Bombardier in the army, and a member of the Table Mountain rescue team.  After many sailing and mountaineering adventures together, they married in 1945.

    In 1946 Dick started a B.Sc. degree course in Civil Engineering at Cape Town University.  His daughter Margaret was born while he was still a student  there.  After university, his first big engineering project was the construction of a bridge at Veldrift near Saldana Bay north of Cape Town.   Another daughter, Joan, was born.  When the bridge was finished he was posted to Kenya which was a British Colony then.  His third daughter Patricia was born in Nairobi.

    He spent the next 15 years building roads, bridges, pipe-lines and other construction works.  By the time we left Kenya in 1965, Dick had been promoted to Regional Engineer in charge of the whole coastal region from Kenya to Tanzania.

    On long leaves to England, Dick and Peggy took up gliding, and Dick brought the first glider to Kenya and started the first Gliding Club in the Rift Valley.  He became the Chief Gliding Instructor.

    When he was transferred to Kisumu on Lake Victoria and later to Mombasa on the coast, we lived too far from the Gliding
    Club.  So he took up sailing again and was a fiercely competitive and successful yachtsman.

    After Kenya Independence, the family settled in England where Peggy’s family came from.   He bought a large house in Otterton, and worked for a few years as a civil engineer in Cardiff and for the Devon County Council before retiring.

    When their three daughters flew the nest at Hawkern, Otterton, Dick and Peggy downsized to Broadway View, Farringdon in 1973.  When they lowered the roadside hedge, they revealed a spectacular night time ‘broadway’ view of the lights of Exeter from the front windows of the bungalow.  Alas, this has in recent years been largely obscured by the growth of ‘Mount Stuart’.

    Dick bought himself a four-berth Twister and he and Peggy and friends  spent many happy times exploring the south coast of Devon and the north coast of France and Holland.    While Peggy occupied herself with redesigning the garden and working as a guide for the National Trust at Killerton,  Dick went on sailing trips with other crew members to Portugal, the Azores, the Scilly Isles, and Ireland.  He  learnt how to cook and stitch wounds on these trips away from home.

    When an old back injury resurfaced, Dick sold his boat and joined the Devon Orchid Society.  He built a specially equipped heated greenhouse at the end of the garden and started collecting and breeding orchids for three or four years until he got bored with that.

    When he was in his 70’s he decided to go back to University.  He studied  philosophy and psychology at Exeter University and further pursued a life-long interest in science and biology by doing courses with the Open University in neurophysiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and  Science and Religion.  He was always a seeker of truth and knowledge.  He later wrote and published his own book on his thoughts on science and social reform, entitled ‘Credo’.

    His wife Peggy died of cancer in December 1989.  Until the last couple of years of his life, he remained fiercely independent, enjoying his solitude, regularly walking his little dog on Woodbury Common or around Farringdon, and reading avidly.  He also invented and designed a controversial new glider, flown by the pilot lying face forward similar to hang-gliding or birds flying.  Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to actually build it. (His daughter Margaret still has the plans if anyone is genuinely interested in building it.)