NANCY Stratten (née Coward) was born in Beckenham, London. She attended The Abbey School in Reading where she excelled in academics and sports. She was head girl and captained the first hockey team.
Mom won a scholarship to Oxford University (Somerville College), where she read Botany. While there, she captained the Oxford women’s swimming team.
She met our father, Peter, who read Forestry at Oxford (Balliol College), on a botany expedition in Wales. After their marriage in 1958, they moved to the Eastern Highlands of Rhodesia, where Dad was working as a forester.
Mom never actively worked as a scientist but dedicated her life to caring for the family while Peter rose up the ranks at Sappi, becoming a board member for more than 20 years.
We lived in various small towns in KZN before moving to Johannesburg in 1968, where we four girls attended Roedean School.
Mom had a strong social conscience. She taught sewing to women at St George’s Anglican Church in Parktown, Johannesburg. Through African Self Help, she took responsibility for a nursery school in Soweto, and fearlessly drove through to drop off supplies and assist the teachers during the 70s and 80s when Soweto was in social turmoil.
Mom was also a superlative cook and baker. She sewed most of her own clothes and loved playing tennis. She was a lover of words and was fascinated by their use and origin. An avid reader and excellent writer, in 1984 she co-authored a corporate history of Darling & Hodgson.
In 1991, Mom and Dad moved to Plettenberg Bay. The community welcomed them warmly and they were active in many areas, including hiking, the Wildlife Society, the Environmental Forum and Ratepayers Association, the DA, and St Peter’s Anglican Church.
Mom was deeply involved in church affairs and an important part of her life was singing in the church choir and reading lessons at services.
She had a vision and passion for early childhood development, long before it became government policy. In the mid-90s she raised money, principally from the Zoe Carss Trust, for building Flamingo Crèche in Green Valley, Wittedrift.
She organised nutritional food from ePap, paid wages, made weekly visits and years later raised funds for an additional Grade R classroom, again largely helped by the Zoe Carss Trust.
In 2013, having battled heart problems for many years, Mom had a major stroke. Dad dedicated seven years to looking after her, helping her to make a remarkable recovery. She never complained once. Dad’s fierce love and protection of her are beyond words.
Following a hip operation in mid-June 2020, Mom developed pneumonia. Doctors, along with the entire Plett medical fraternity and FGV [Formosa Garden Village] frail-care staff, were kind and compassionate.
Condolences have poured in - thank you - with many repeating these words to describe our mother: “gracious”, “intelligent”, “kind”, “elegant”. They will resonate with us forever.
We thank the Plett community for the solidarity they have shown to our father and to us.
- Philippa, Lucy, Nella, Kate
• See the notice on page 5.