A farewell to the wonderful Mrs Peltason

BY Mrs S. Gerber

It is hard to say goodbye to Mrs Peltason because she is in the spirit and ethos of the school, in our fabric and woven in our hearts. Mrs Peltason is in the ranks of some of Riebeek’s greatest, including the Fab Four alongside Mrs Stear, Mrs Potgieter and Mrs Young who shaped a generation or two of Riebeek girls in the art of compassion, communication, calmness and consiousness. So, when it comes to paying tribute to Mrs Peltason it is hard because that ethos is ethereal, cannot be summed up, exists in hearts and form a thousand deeds, a thousand kind words of encouragement, a mystical ability to make you see your potential and worthiness, a heart of gold, a sharp mind, an introspection, a liberal and open-minded view of the world shared with love and care.
There are teachers and journalists around the world who will credit Mrs Peltason with their career path, who will speak and write about her, who will remind you that Mrs P made a difference in their young souls and stirred a love in them for the written word, the spoken word and the impact of words.
When Mrs Peltason chats to you, you come away a little warmer and a lot more empowered. You have caught a glimpse of new possibilities and you feel hopeful. You feel like you have been touched by an angel, blessed with knowing people who care and you feel a litter wiser and a lot better. That is the magic Peltason touch.
Mrs Peltason has had many accolades in her time at Riebeek. To name a few, her appointment as Hostel Superintendent, being awarded the Principal’s Cup by Mrs Woods, serving as an acting HOD, being the Head of the English Department and, perhaps our favourite, being written about by journalist and Old Girl, Beth Cooper Howell, in Beth’s weekly Herald feature article.
When we bid farewell to Mrs Peltason, we bid farewell to an era of genteel leadership and mentorship, an era of spritely enthusiasm and passion for the English language. We bid farewell to a lady, a lady who went to great lengths to read the writing of young people and steer them to express themselves better and powerfully.
Thank you, Mrs Peltason, for being you, authentically and beautifully. Thank you for bringing out the best in so many and for sprinkling your magic over us like sparkly glitter.
The legacy you will leave will be warm and fuzzy. It is enduring, and wholesome and positive. It is in the pieces of you that you gave so willingly to others.
By Miss O. Mxoli:
Riebeek sadly wishes Mrs Anne Marjorie Peltason farewell. To know Mrs Pelatson is to love her. To know her is to be blessed. She really is as sweet as pie and who could let go of something that precious without a lingering sadness.
Mrs P, as she is affectionately called, grew up on a farm and attended the local farm school with 10 other children, all of whom were in different grades. She did her Sub A and B and Standard 1,2 and 3 at the farm school; receiving instruction from an elderly man through the medium of Afrikaans. She came to Riebeek in Standard 6, in 1961, as a boarder. At that time the hostel was still situated at 103 Cannon Street. She made her way onto the honour roll in 1965, and you can still see it in the hall under her maiden name Anne Wates. She was also head of hostel that year. Mrs P was also a prefect in Grade 11 and 12. In those days there were 2 Grade 11 prefects elected to the prefect body. In her matric year, Mrs Peltason was awarded Best Speaker and Best Actress Awards.
She studied Haematology at the South African Institute for Medical Research. However, she soon found out that she leaned more towards the artistic side. In 1967 she began reading for her BA at Rhodes University, studying Fine Arts, History and English! She completed her teaching training at Rhodes and and enrolled for English Honours at the University of Witwatersrand, graduating in 1978.
While building her academic life; she was also building a family. In 1971 she married Duncan. Her son, Brian, who is now married to Elvira and living in the Netherlands with “my darling granddaughters” Stella and Lindi; and her daughter Lee, an old girl herself, lives in Malta, presented Mrs Peltason with her first grandchild, the lovely Kaiah, now 15 and completing her GCSEs.
In 1986 Mrs Peltason returned to Riebeek to teach English. She ran the Cultural Society, which in those days had three committee members. She was in charge of Chess, Wildlife, Cultural outings such as the Arts Festivals and Shakespeare in the Park, Debating, Drama (Inter House Plays), Public Speaking and Squash. Mrs Peltason was also the editor of the school magazine for many years.
Mrs Peltason has been associated with Riebeek for over 40 years, teaching here for more than 20 of those years. She was a hostel duty teacher in the 1990s and in 2011 was appointed as the Hostel Superintendent. As she says, “I know every inch of Riebeek College. I spent more than half my life here and it has given me much.” Mrs Peltason says that she has gained a lot of knowledge on human behaviour here at Riebeek, but mostly that we should forgive ourselves and others, that education for girls still works, that people come and go but each person leaves behind something special. Mrs Peltason should know as she has seen Riebeek through six principals (Miss Jean Bartlett, Mrs Hutton Mrs Natalie Stear, Miss Laura Bekker, Mrs Marilyn Woods and,finally, Mrs Kieran Stear), numerous staff members and countless young minds forever enriched for knowing her.
It is not only the girls who are enriched by Mrs Peltason, but the staff too. Some of the lady staff were taught by Mrs Peltason and are at a loss as to what to say about her that could encapsulate that lovely spirit. Even those gifted with the gab have fallen short. Mrs Mapoma says, “She is kind. Caring. My dearest friend. She is everything to me and I do not have enough words to describe her. I love this lady. She’s a honey to me.”
When asked what moments of joy she will carry with her she said, “Cultural camping tours under canvas in the RAIN, Leanne Kok stepping on a thorn at Avoca, Nicollete Scrooby getting seasick on Cultural Society Sea Safari, Wildlife Tours on Nooshin Jeeva’s father’s game farm, Michaela White sitting cross-legged on the grass in Grahamstown the year she came in the top 15 of the English Olympiad; Olwethu Mxoli casting a spell over Mr Norman Fumba; Asanda Bhuda blowing us away in Johannesburg with her speech at the Communicator’s Cup final, Beth Cooper et al winning Riebeek’s first computer for Mrs Stear with a class project we submitted for some competition or other, half a class standing on top of their desks as tribute to me in the Dead Poets’ Society manner, the taste of an ice cold Coca Cola after a particularly gruelling hockey match… and the list goes on.””
Mrs Peltason has brought joy to countless lives. She has nurtured a love of the arts and language in many. She has inspired souls. She has comforted and tended. It is difficult, almost impossible, to imagine our home without her. She has been a teacher, a mentor, a sounding board, a mother and, in her golden years, a beloved granny to us all.
Mrs Peltason, we wish you well on your next adventure of retirement. There are still adventures to come. But wherever you go, please remember home. Pop in for a cheery hello every now and then. You will always be welcome!

 November 19, 2021
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