November 21 - 27 , 2003


 Coastweek   Kenya

 HOME - click this banner to return to http://www.coastweek.com






Coastweek - - Denis was born in Reading, Berkshire, England of an English father and a Southern Irish mother on 24th August 1914.

It is said by those who know the family well, that Denis inherited is "difficult side" from his mother ! In any case, that is what Dorothy (Denisí wife) told her sons many years ago.

He went to Reading School from 1924 to 1932, where, it was generally known, he played Rugby and enjoyed rowing - indeed, he rowed at Henley.

What is not generally known, is that he also excelled at cross country running, and one of the earliest examples of Denisí sense of fun (mischief) is supplied by Kerr Kirkwood, the current Hon. Secretary of the Old Redingensian Association:

"In 1932, he was in the "7 - Mile Race" and at the end, all three leaders (1st, 2nd and 3rd joined arms 100 yards before the tape.


Coastweek - - Denis
William Patience.

"The HM declared the race "null and void" and made them re-run the course - It was a real sensation at the time."

In 1935 he joined Miles Aircraft as a draftsman on modifications.

He later moved to Short Brothers at Rochester on Sunderland Flying Boats and Stirling Bombers; was bombed out and sent to Belfast.

Later he moved to Swindon where he met Dorothy who had also been bombed out of London, and who was working for Short Brothers at Stratton St. Margarets.

Soon after the outbreak of World War II, Denis joined the Berkshire Regiment and later transferred to the Royal Engineers.

He was commissioned in 1943.

He married Dorothy in Reading in June 1943, and was sent to Italy in 1944, where he filled holes and built Bailey Bridges, not to mention drinking copious quantities of ltalian plonk !

Kevin was born in 1945.

Denis was posted to Palestine and remained there until the British were declared non grata and the area became known as Israel.

In 1947, Denis was posted to Mombasa, and sent to Mackinnon Road which in those days was an army/ RAF bomb dump.

Dorothy and Kevin soon joined him, coming out on the Llangibby Castle.

Soon thereafter, Denis was de-mobbed (with the rank of Captain) and was employed by Shell for a while, and then by the "P.W.D" (Public Works Department) in Nairobi.

From his earliest days there, he and Dorothy soon became involved in the Donovan Maule Theatre.

Their second son Colin was born in Nairobi in 1951.

He was then transferred to Kisumu where he started the Kisumu Amateur Dramatic Society.

He was recalled early from his leave in 1953, owing to the outbreak of the "Emergency", and sailed back to Mombasa on the B.I.S.S. Mulbera.

On his return, he was transferred back to Nairobi, and remained there until his retirement in 1969.

Denis was the last surviving Founder Member of the Nairobi City Players: the other "Founders" (Brian Epsom and Rurik Ronsky) having gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds earlier.

He became very involved in theatre in Nairobi and Ruiru, and also in the Kenya Regiment, which (if I recall) used to put on some form of pantomime in those days.

He even became involved (somehow !) in ballet, but Kevin assures us he never wore a "tutu" !

In 1971 he moved to Mombasa and in 1972 his bungalow at Kisauni was ready for him and Dorothy to move into.

He joined Mombasa Club in 1974, and, with Dorothy, was a very active member of the Little Theatre Club from 1972 to around 1984.

He produced plays and acted in them, and at one time, there were not less than five members of the Patience family in a production: Denis and Dorothy, Kevin and Colin, and Kevinís wife Kay.

It is believed that this is still an unbroken record for family involvement on the L.T.C boards.

He was employed by Southern Engineering Co. Ltd. until 1980, when he joined Divecon.

The close family ties continued when Kevin was appointed MD of Divecon, and father and son were obliged (for some reason) to share an office.

Denis retired finally from active employment in 1993.

He was actively involved in Game Fishing from 1970 to some time in the 1980s, and at one time held the Kenya Record for a Sailfish on a light line.

His active love of sports continued right into his twilight years, and he was a regular attender at the Hong Kong Sevens.

In 1995, at the age of 81, Denis was still playing rugby for the "Golden Oldies" in Christchurch, New Zealand.

His closest "competitor" for the current oldest player is a "mere snippet " at 61 !

Denis remained true to his outlook on life to the end: a combination of warmth, crustiness and mischief.

On the day of his final admission to hospital, the ambulance arrived, and he was invited by the attendants to take his place on the mobile stretcher.

"Not b..... likely" says Denis, and plonks himself in the front passenger seat of the ambulance.

Sadly, later that morning, he appeared to be comfortably asleep when I called to see him; twenty four hours later he had gone, and one can only hope, his final hours were comfortable and painless.

To his family, Kevin and Kay, Colin, Judy, Victoria and Stuart, we offer our sincere regrets and condolences.

Denis was, indeed, larger than life, and for those who wonder where the title comes from: Denis loved his regular Wednesday lunches at the Yacht Club, and some other days at the Mission, for many years.

There is a brass plaque on the first Barrel on the left, holding up the Bar Counter in the Mission Bar, as you enter from the car park.

The "quotation" is his familyís tribute to the Mission for the many happy hours Denis spent there, and in that particular corner.

He was also a very regular supporter of the Mombasa Club on Monday nights and Saturday lunch times - indeed, a week before his passing, he was present at the April Draw of the Monthly lottery, and informing all and sundry that he was perfectly capable of assisting with draw, without any assistance from anyone else, thank you very much !

- P. D., Mombasa.



Copyright © '96, '97, '98, '99, '00, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, 07, 08, 2009.
Coastweek Newspapers Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Comments and questions: coastwk@africaonline.co.ke