Bertram Robert (Bob) and Joyce Iva Dumper (née Markwell) married at St Peter’s Church Ipswich in August 1954. They had just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary when Bob was taken ill, hospitalised, and died in a nursing home in April 2015. Joyce went into a care home in February 2020 for a trial period and died in lockdown restrictions the following October.

Bob was born in Alton Hampshire in April 1926; his father was a painter by trade as was his grandfather. Joyce was born in Princes Street Ipswich in July 1927. Joyce’s father was a railway clerk and her paternal grandfather was a basket weaver for the herring trade. Joyce’s mother was a teacher and her maternal grandfather a gamekeeper.

Bob went to Eggar’s Grammar School in Alton, where he met his lifelong friend Godfrey who in a few lines to Bob’s widow speaks for all who knew them: ‘I saw him the first day I went to Eggar’s peering eagerly at a notice board, and knew at once he was my sort of chap. We sat next to each other in class and began a conversation that went on for quite 75 years. We never had a cross word. But, wow, what fun we had! I never met a man with his lust for life; with his unending quest for the best in music and theatre and books. He was a brilliant teacher, perhaps because he was a student all his life.’

Bob met Joyce at University College Southampton where they appear side by side in the annual student union photographs for 1949 and 1950, so they had known one-another at least five years before they married. As Godfrey added: ‘And he was so lucky to find you: his perfect partner’.

Bob’s National Service from September 1944 to December 1947 was underground coal-mining at Ferryhill, Co Durham: a Bevin Boy. After six months supply teaching in 1948 Bob went to read English at Southampton University, obtained his BA (Hons) in 1951 and entered the teachers training department at U.C.S. Bob spent Lent term 1952 in full time teaching practice at Peter Symonds’ School Winchester before becoming a member of the English staff at Westcliffe High School for Boys in September 1952. Anxious to widen his experience after a school of 700 boys Bob joined the School of Commerce and Social Studies here in Ipswich in 1954, which became Ipswich Civic College, School of General Studies. Bob retired in July 1991 at what had now become Suffolk College.

Meanwhile, Joyce, Miss Markwell, taught at Everton House School from 1954 until it closed, and then Kesgrave Hall School from 1981 until retirement in 1991. Two words the headmaster wrote in a testimonial in 1992 sums it up too briefly: ‘outstanding teacher’.  What Joyce said of Bob applies equally to Joyce: ‘His brilliant teaching of English brought academic success for his students, setting them on paths they till then, had dared not think possible’.

Both participated in extracurricular activities: drama, music, students’ union, magazines and group travel. They entertained, as attested by their visitor’s book started just after they moved to Dales Road in 1954: ‘I have just spent three hours of being stuffed full of Stan Freberg, cream cheese, Ricky Nelson, fireworks, Buddy Holly and cider, but strangely I have enjoyed myself immensely’.

After they retired Bob and Joyce travelled far and wide and, back here in Suffolk, Bob played a part in the creation of the Aldeburgh Festival and so fittingly, we said goodbye to them on the River Alde at Snape Maltings. They excelled at whatever they put their minds to and their sparkle lives on in the memories we share. Joyce wrote: ‘Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened’.

Rowell Bell

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