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  OBITUARY  

Dec. 28, 2007 - Jan. 17, 2008

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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'JOE' DENNIS WILLIAM MUIR

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Coastweek - - 'Joe' Dennis William Muir.

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FORMER COAST PROVINCE ROADS ENGINEER

Coastweek - - Dennis William Muir known universally as "Joe" was born in Cape  Town, South Africa on April 10th 1931 into a family of Scottish origin.

As a child his mother, a Matriarch of the "Old School" instilled  in him the virtues of honesty, integrity and love of family which he carried with him for the rest of his life.

At school Joe worked hard and played hard, excelling at sports.

On leaving school Joe joined a firm of Civil Engineers.

He continued his studies with classes at night school so that he could obtain the  qualifications necessary to persue his chosen career as a Civil Engineer.

When he had obtained these qualifications Joe applied for a post with the Public Works Department of Kenya which was involved in the construction of the International airport at Nairobi.

His first task was the supervision of a large contingent of local labourers engaged in preparing and finishing the runway at the airport.

In order to communicate with his employees Joe had to learn Swahili.

He rapidly gained fluency in this language as well as in Kikuyu, the language of the predominant tribe at this time in Nairobi.

Joe retained his mastery of these languages for the rest of his life and would often engage in conversation in Swahili with his daughter Teddy in his home overlooking the English Channel in Hythe, Kent.

One day while still based in Nairobi Joe was visiting a friend who was in hospital when he was told that there was a young German girl in an adjacent ward who had few visitors and was in need of cheering up.

Joe and that young German girl, Püppi, much later celebrated their 'Golden Wedding' anniversary last December.

When the airport at Nairobi was completed Joe was posted to Kisumu.

In 1965 Joe, Püppi and their two children Alex and Teddy drove down to Cape Town from Kisumu for a holiday.

On their return journey they stopped off in Mombasa where Joe was later posted to become Coast Province Engineer, Roads.

Soon after his arrival in Mombasa Joe joined both the Mombasa Golf Club and the Nyali Club which became the focal points of the family's social life.

As a golfer Joe played off a low single figure handicap and was a formidable competitor, particularly in match play where his ability to scramble and get up and down from almost impossible situations unnerved many an opponent.

In later years Joe used to take pride in serving his guests beer from the Rowland Ward Bavarian crystal tankards "Mugs" engraved with the "Big Five" game animals which he had won in Monthly Medal competitions.

This often led to Joe producing a cutting from the Sports Page of the East African Standard dated 1970 in which banner headlines proclaimed the fact that "Mombasa was Proud of its Third couple".

Joe would then go on to relate how on the Good Friday after the annual match against Royal Nairobi the previous day he had had to call the Mombasa Captain, Glyn Thomas, out of the bar at the Nairobi Club, at ten minutes notice, to partner him in the first round of the Easter Tournament in place of his usual partner - who had last been seen in the arms of a 'Bluebell Girl' in the Casino the night before.

This impromptu partnership had then gone undefeated through all seven rounds of the tournament.

When it was decided to upgrade the Nyali course to 18 holes Joe made a significant contribution to the planning for this change.

Joe used to visit Kisumu every year to play in the "Hippo Pot"  competition.

On one occasion he won both the Scratch and Handicap prizes and was not happy when he was awarded the Scratch prize because this deprived him of the "sweep money" which went with the latter prize.

(A decision which still rankled more than 30 years later.)

As Coast Province Engineer, Roads, Joe was always busy up and down the roads in Coast Province and especially so when the President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was in residence at the coast.

One day Joe and his road group were out working on a culvert when the Presidential motorcade approached.

Joe was astonished when the President's car pulled alongside him and with a swish of the Presidential fly whisk Joe was summoned to the side of the car.

He was  even more astonished when the President addressed him by his first name in Swahili and complimented him on the state of the roads in the Province.

Then with another swish of the whisk the President was on his way.

When he retired from Government service Joe and the family moved  to the U.K. and set up residence, first in Beckenham and then in Hythe, Kent.

When events in South Africa affected the value of the Rand and hence Joe's investments he returned to work as a Consultant Engineer based in Zambia.

This work took him to Pemba Island, Botswana, Malawi and Kenya, and he often found himself working under harsh conditions in the bush.

At this time Joe was not in the best of health but he persevered in this work to ensure that his family would be well provided for in the future.

It was while he was on one of these surveys in Swaziland that tragedy struck the family when his only son Alex died.

This was a grievous loss to Joe but he sought solace in the company of his grandchildren Kasandra and  Billy.

Unable to play golf in his latter years Joe took to competing in every cross-word competition that he could get hold of and his afternoons were dominated by the T.V. when he would sit and match his wits against the  competitors in quiz shows.

Joe died on August 14th 2007 and is survived by his wife Püppi, daughter Teddy and her children Kasandra and Billy.   

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