BY Mrs M. Woods

Although it is with a sad heart that I address you all this morning, I also feel privileged to be able to pay tribute to the late Mr Neill Hoare, who passed away on breaking up day, the 18 March, at the end of last term. Last year he was really not well at all and then arranged to go down to Cape Town to visit his daughter during the September holidays. He was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to return to teaching. His main concern as always, was his students. I assured him that we would make a plan and nothing was more important than his health. 
Mr Hoare was a gentle giant of a man who was loved and respected by all the staff and pupils, both present and past. However, being male, Mr Hoare never let the species down, in that he could be extremely stubborn. What I loved about him when in this mood, was his body language and voice. His shoulders would lift, chin would tilt, his eyes would peer through his glasses with eyebrows lifted, and glaring down at you from a great height, he would gesticulate with his hands and this booming “stage” voice would belt out: “Marilyn, I cannot give up any teaching time. It is simply impossible! I need every minute with the girls.” In this mood he was a real challenge! However, when convinced about something, he would be a great support and continue to give of his very best at all times. 
Mr Hoare came to Riebeek from Muir on a promotion post as Deputy Principal in June 1976. In an article that he wrote in 2010 he said the following, which I also believe is one of the main differences between an all boys and an all girls school; “What I did not expect was the change of behaviour in an all-girls’ environment! I thought the girls were undisciplined, noisy and exceedingly quizzy about my personal life. But I soon got used to that – it was just a female thing.” Mr Hoare, you were so right, as everyone who has ever been a guest speaker or performed for our girls has realized that an all girls’ school makes the best and most appreciative audience ever! Because, we girls are compassionate, positive and loyal beings and I know that Mr Hoare just loved this very “female” environment - as do the other few male staff members I may add! In fact, the men on the staff become quite spoilt by being surrounded by so many nurturing ladies!
Neil was first and foremost, an exemplary family man. He lived for his family and they always came first. He was also passionate about teaching his subject, Science, his students whom he fondly called his “mossies” and Riebeek College. No-one could ever question his loyalty and love for this school. Mrs Peltason says that, “the words that come to mind when I think of Neil are gallant, romantic, sometimes paternalistic, often dogmatic, and always very, very kind. Neil was kindness personified.” 
Mr Hoare used to give his Science matric students a sprig of rosemary as a good luck gesture before their final examinations, because of it being a symbol of remembrance.
One of his favourite sayings in class over all the years was, “Let’s start at the beginning.” I have no doubt that this was when he was trying to help his students understand some difficult concept with which they were struggling. He was a patient man.
When I was in matric in 1968, Mr Hoare, as a dashing young Muir teacher, got engaged to a beautiful, charming young ex-Riebeek girl, Yvonne Lemley. And so his relationship with the school started! In the summer of (19)69, December, Neil and Yvonne got married. He married into a “Riebeek” family as Yvonne’s late older sister, Vera, was an ex-Riebeek Girl and subsequently became a teacher in the Primary Section of the school for quite a few years, her younger sister, Jenny, an ex-Riebeek girl and secretary at the school for many years, and Yvonne’s, brother, Jimmy, who unfortunately, had to attend Muir College. So Neil was truly surrounded by Riebeek girls, even before he came to teach at the school. 
Yvonne became the front secretary at Riebeek and after her sad passing in 1999 just after her daughter, Jackie, qualified as a Medical Doctor, the mantel was passed on to her sister, Jenny. Jackie went on to specialize in Psychiatry and has recently attained Professorship. Our congratulations, Jackie, on a wonderful achievement. 
Stephanie, who was an excellent hockey player at school and passionate about horses, is living and working in London. She recently got married and was the most beautiful bride.
Neil was justifiably and exceedingly proud of his two daughters, sons-in-law and granddaughter, Arwen, an accomplished equestrian.
I will always fondly remember Neil as the “thespian.” He was an ardent supporter of theatre and a most accomplished actor and producer. He left an indelible mark on Uitenhage with his many dramatic and musical productions. What I also clearly remember and always found so special, was that Yvonne was always involved in or part of all of his productions, whether as a prompt or in charge of props or wardrobe. 
Both Neil and I love movies and we often had interesting and real fun chats about them. He loved series and collected many good movies, his favourites being dramas and romantic comedies. I remember him recommending the movie, “Tangled”, which was a 3D computer-animated musical fantasy-comedy film released by Walt Disney Pictures and loosely based on the German fairy tale, “Rapunzel”. The film tells the story of a lost, young princess with long magical hair, based on the story of Rapunzel, as being one of the best animated movies he had seen. He was a true romantic at heart. 
Mrs Viv Stevens, a colleague of many years and friend, says the following: “A particular love of his was, “The Amazing Race” and one of his favourite things was to come to school on a Tuesday morning and discuss the Monday night episode with me, because he knew that I was also a fan. He was passionate about our world and its wonders and tried hard to instil a similar enthusiasm into his “mossies”.
Many, many Riebeek girls and Muir Boys have been afforded the opportunity of unique memories, because of their involvement in the exciting school productions that Neil presented over many years; The Sound of Music, Paint my Wagon, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof and Grease being a few that I can recall. 
Neil was truly a multi-talented, colourful, and happy character. He was not just a “Science” man, but was just as adept in the arts - he wrote beautifully and I once saw some sketches that he had drawn, and they were unbelievably good. I clearly remember saying to him that he could have become an artist!
Something close to Neil’s heart, was nature and animals. He was a staunch supporter of the SPCA and cared for his animals in a very loving way, treating them as family. They knew how 
to twist him around their little paws and were lovingly cared for, loved and taken for many walks. I remember his border collies in particular, being his devoted, loyal companions while he was living alone. 
Mrs Anne Peltason also says the following about Neil: “I shall always remember Neil Hoare for his passion for trees, dogs, and pastry, most especially meat pies. I think Neil Hoare’s passion extended to Mossies and Astronomy as well as to his two beautiful daughters, contemporaries of my own two children, and of course his beloved Yvonne.” She goes on to say, “I first met Neil when he was teaching at Muir College in 1967 and I was doing my teacher training at Riebeek College. I was roped in as a fourth for bridge, a game Neil was fond of and that he played with aplomb, and by the rules, sitting bolt upright.”
Mrs Stevens also says: “He has left a huge gap in our staff room. I don’t know who’s going to notice Mrs Mapoma’s new hairstyle now or who we are going to fuss over for eating all the wrong things – Mr Hoare loved his meat pies! 
The English poet, John Gay wrote, “We only part to meet again.”
This teacher, father, husband and friend, loved and respected by so many, and now parted from us, has now gone home to meet up with his beloved Yvonne once again. His legacy will continue to live on not only at Riebeek, but in the lives of his precious children and all who loved him.

 April 11, 2016
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