In Memory

Graeme Robertson

Graeme Robertson was a popular pupil, generally known by his nickname "Bun".  He was with the class of 1963 for three years, then took a more leisurely route to matric with the class of 1964. He played rugby for the first XV and was a keen mountaineer. Graeme left SA in the late 1970s and emigrated to the UK.  He died of cancer in 1991, leaving a wife, a son, and three daughters.

Graeme's brother Ian Robertson (Class of 1961) writes:

"Graeme was a remarkable person -- thoughtful, wise, generous, benevolent, funny, and very talented.  He was very much his own person and lived his life on his own terms.   After matriculating he attended Natal University, but he was bored there and left after two years without taking a degree.  By that point in the 1960s Graeme identified with cultural trends abroad, particularly in the USA, and became known as one of Durban's first "hippies". He grew his hair down to his shoulders, and kept it that way for the rest of his life.  Graeme had one son, Lance, from a brief first marriage, but the boy died in childhood of leukemia.  He met Christine and they had three daughters within a singe year -- Lisa, and then the twins Lina and Linka.  To support the family Graeme ran a small silk-screening business, producing images for posters and T-shirts.  A few years later he had another son, Vidwan, whose mother was a Durban Indian.  Vidwan is now a successful international businessman.

"In the late 1970s Graeme, Christine, and the girls emigrated to the Britain.  For almost a year he was unable to find work -- he had no qualifications, and his unusual appearance was now augmented by an immense beard.  Then one day he wandered by chance into a London hotel where a company was conducting a job interview.  Without even knowing what the job was, Graeme joined the other impecccably dressed applicants. The interviewing committee, intrigued at this eccentric interloper, asked a few questions.. and then more... and more... and then gave Graeme the job of Creative Director at one of Britain's leading advertising firms.

"It was a perfect match.   With no preconceptions about the field, Graeme was able to unleash his shrewd and creative intellect, asking new questions and conjuring new ideas.   Within a short period he became the leading figure in British direct marketing and his work was the subject of a Britsh TV documentary.  He was in great demand as a witty and accomplished public speaker, and accepted invitations from as far away as the USA and Australia.  He achieved great material success and lived in a fine old English manor house in rural Gloucestershire. He enjoyed driving powerful, fast cars between London and his country home, and liked to relax to sounds from his extensive collection of jazz and rock music.  

"Graeme was living life to the full and was at the pinnacle of success when he was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1991. He died four months later, after carefully designing his own funeral. It was an extraordinary event, attended by a great crowd of people from all walks of life. The British adversiting industry set up the Graeme Robertson Trust in his memory, and every year the Trust identifies and rewards students who show outstanding creative talent.  The family is thriving and there are six grandsons.  Graeme was a truly loveable man of great warmth and humanity."


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10/07/14 02:08 PM #1    

Terry McCann

Bun and I were in Jigs' athletic club, for my part mainly because I was pretty hopeless at cricket. I guess it was the same for him. After athletics we would go to the tuck shop across the road and enjoy a flavoured milk and, if we had money, a vanilla slice. I loved his quiet, serious wit while we sat outside the t-room waiting for our lifts. Bun was somebody you just enjoyed being with.

10/09/14 08:12 AM #2    

Tony Daymond

Ian what a wonderful tribute to your 'Boet the Bun', Graeme.His spirit shines through your tribute and as I read it my memories flooded back of the Bun.As you say even at that early stage of his life he was his 'own' man and I was intriegued to read on about his subsequent  fortune and success.

I might add he played rugby in a 'hippie' style, running with determination as if carrying a 'secret', that no one was to take from him. 

10/10/14 05:46 AM #3    

Tony Daymond

Don Allaway has asked me to post his tribute to Bun below;

Yes Bun Robertson was a real character and it is great to read Ian's tribute to him and  how he went about reaching the top of the advertising world.He certainly did it 'my/his way'

I knew he had done very well and it was fantastic to read about how it all happened and his creativity recognised.

We were in the same age group . I played against Bun when he was at Clifton {He was captain} and I was at DPHS. Once we arrived at DHS  We vyed for the same spot in rugby teams.Bun was a good hooker, an even better rugby player and it took everything I had to stop him taking my place in the U15A side.I was releived when Bun opted to play in the loose forwards, a position where t his talent flourished.We continued to enjoy many games together.

I am saddened that his life was cut short by Cancer but, I am so pleased for Bun,his wife and family to know that he made his mark at the very top of the buisness world in one of the world's great countries.


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