‘I don’t feel 80 years old’

Doreen Minnaar celebrated her 80th birthday.

Former teacher Doreen Minnaar, 80, who lives at the Beaconvale Community Frail Care Centre in Beacon Valley, celebrated her 80th birthday on Monday November 14.

She taught at Montagu Drive Primary in 1983 for a year, before returning to St John’s Road Primary, in East London.

The octogenarian was born in Queenstown and started teaching at a small village school in Sterkstroom, in the Eastern Cape, when it opened in 1956. At the time, she and the principal were the only teachers.

She taught Sub-A up to Standard 2 (now Grade 1 to 4) and the principal taught from Standard 2 to Standard 5 (Grade 7).

“I loved sport,” she said. Ms Minnaar, who never married and does not have children, was an avid tennis player and enjoyed teaching physical education. She aso taught the Standard 5 girls needlework.

In 1962, she moved to Cape Town to live with her mother’s aunt in Woodstock and to take up a post at the then newly opened Arcadia Primary School, in Bonteheuwel, where she taught for 15 years.

Ms Minnaar is proud to have taught Pearl Jansen, who became the first coloured Miss South Africa in 1970, before democracy.

That year, there were two pageant winners – a black winner, Ms Jansen, and a white one, Jillian Jessup.

“I don’t feel 80,” she said. When the Plainsman asked her, what an 80-year-old should feel like, she replied: “I don’t know”.

“I like to get up early for fresh air and enjoy reading,” she said.

Ms Minnaar said she enjoyed living at the centre because it had a library and it reminded her of staying in school dormitories, where one’s roommates came from different backgrounds. Before she suffered a stroke in 2011, she lived with her nephew in Rocklands.

She said the Bible promises that if you honour your parents, God will lengthen your life. “I am a living witness to this,” she said.