Monday, January 7, 2013

In Memory: Barbara May Mckenzie

Barbara was born on 4 July 1914 at Dundee. She was the third youngest child of John and May McKenzie. Barbara and her siblings had a happy childhood and spent much time on the family farm, Glenluce. On one occasion she was helping her mother in the garden on the farm when she saw two men coming across the field. She drew her mother’s attention to them by saying that there were two “tramps” approaching. The “tramps” turned out to be her future brother-in-law, Reg Pearse and his friend, the acclaimed author, Alan Paton, who were on a hiking trip. She received her school education at Dundee and thereafter worked in Dundee and Durban. She returned to Dundee during 1939.

Barbara married Wilfred Templeton on 8 June 1940 and three children were born, namely, Maureen Janet, David Wilfred and Kenneth Arthur. Wilfred was born on 21st April 1896, in Barberton South Africa. They met through her brother John who lived in the Hlobane Hotel and was working as a fitter and turner on the mine. Wilfred was also living there at that time and was looking for a book he wanted to read. John said he would ask his sister, Barbara who was working at Greenacres in Durban at the time, to buy it. As Wilfred was going to Durban on leave, John told him to collect the book from Barbara. Well, Wilfred when saw Barbara, it was love at first sight! They continued to correspond and eventually got engaged and married. The wedding took place in the old Methodist Church, Dundee and their reception in the old town hall. Because of the second world war, Grandpa and Gran McKenzie kept the reception very small. That evening they traveled to Durban by train, then caught the cruise ship to Cape Town and spent two weeks there.

They lived in Hlobane until 1955, where Wilfred was the Post Master. He was transferred to Umtentweni on the Natal South Coast and continued working until 1969. When Wilfred retired they moved to Port Shepstone and then in 1976 to Malvern, Natal. Barbara continued living there after Wilfred’s death on 29 February 1980.

Barbara was a devoted wife and a much loved and adored mother and grandmother. She enjoyed the company of her grandchildren and they loved spending time with her. Being an accomplished seamstress which included exquisite smocking, she loved making her own clothes and those of her children. Knitting, baking and cooking were also her specialties, all of which made her a versatile mother and housewife.

She was a committed Christian who loved and served her Lord faithfully. During her younger days she was a Sunday School teacher. She was a loyal member at the Port Shepstone and Malvern Methodist Churches and was actively involved in the Women’s Auxiliary. On one occasion a family were selling their home and contents by auction to emigrate to Canada. The Auxiliary were asked to do the catering for the day. After much activity, Barbara went into the lounge to collect the teapots and cups. At that stage the house was being auctioned. It was a very hot day and she picked up her hand to brush her hair out of her eyes. The auctioneer misunderstood her hand gesture and took it to be a bid for the house! When she discovered the error, she ran out of the room and of course all the Auxiliary ladies had a good laugh.

Barbara’s daughter, Maureen, shared another amusing incident which took place when they lived in Umtentweni. “We had a Boxing Day celebration and friends and relatives were invited to join the family. As David was wanting to get engaged to Esther, he requested that Esther's family be included as guests so that they could meet the Templeton family. Mom loved cooking and her specialty pudding was trifle. After a scrumptious salad lunch, out came the trifle and of course the ice cream. Mom was an early riser and had decided to make the custard for the trifle early that morning. The sugar and the salt jars were of identical design. Well, poor Mom, possibly because of a combination of the earliness of the hour and the nervousness of making a good impression on David's future in-laws, confused the two jars and ended up preparing the custard with salt instead of sugar. Everyone could not wait to get started on the dessert. David's future father-in-law was the first to experience the new version of "custard". The look of discomfort on his face in any candid camera shot would have been hilarious but he managed to retain his composure and swallowed the substance that had shocked his taste buds and then politely returned his spoon to the pudding bowl without any utterance. When the other guests sampled the trifle their facial smiles also faded into grimaces but they too remained silent. When Mom took her first mouthful there was an eruption of disbelief. She was very upset and apologetic but after a suggestion, pouring custard was made and the tainted custard dispatched to the rubbish bin. Eventually all turned out well and Mom saw the funny side of the incident.

Barbara’s faith helped her immensely during her last days when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She bore her illness bravely and was an inspiration to all who went to minister to her. She died in Durban on 16 October 1986

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