Obituary of T E Dryer published in Kings College Cambridge Annual Report 2009

THOMAS EDWARD DRYER (1933) was a dedicated teacher of Classics who regarded Latin translations as works of art and did not tolerate mediocrity. He spent the greater part of his career at Dorking County Grammar School and never lost interest in his former pupils. Ted died on 3 February 2005.

A cradle Catholic, Ted (Tommy to his family) was born in Rangoon on 17 April 1915, but was raised by his grandmother in West Kensington. He attended Cardinal Vaughan's School, where he was not especially happy but walked the two miles to school each day so that the bus fare could be saved for pocket money. However, teachers there had a profound influence on him and he won a Scholarship to King's to read Classics. After Part I he changed to Moral Sciences and his final year in Cambridge was a memorable one, sharing a flat with lifelong friends Arthur Adcock (1931) and Robert Bolgar (1932). At this time he first met his wife-to-be Jessie, who had come to Cambridge to visit her friend Betty, later to marry Robert.


After graduation Ted headed to Italy where he spent a happy eight months in Milan and Florence teaching English. Although revelling in the experience of life in the country of Virgil,- Cicero and Horace, Ted did not master the Italian language, a matter he later regretted. However, the war intervened and Ted served with both the East SSurrey Regiment and the Royal Army Service Corps. In 1940 he married Jessie.


Once the war was over Ted was able to obtain his Teaching Certificate and begin his career teaching Classics at Bishop Vesey Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield. Two years later he moved on to Dorking Grammar as the Senior Classics Master and was immediately horrified to discover that the Upper Sixth had never done Latin prose composition. Ted set about remedying this failing to such effect that only a year or so later a pupil being interviewed for Cambridge had her prose _ singled out for favourable comment. Once at Cambridge, former pupils were entreated to send him their Latin and Greek prose compositions to 'hone his mind' and these were later returned with characteristic comments, hints and tips.

An affable man, Ted is also remembered as being excited by the then new medium of television, perhaps recognising its potential educational benefits, although his enthusiasm for resting one's eyes (cupping the hands over one's closed eyes and then opening the eyes in the restful darkness of the palms) was seized upon by less diligent pupils as a means of wasting at least one minute of each lesson. When the Grammar School was later subsumed into Ashcombe Comprehensive, Ted continued to teach Classics to the Sixth Form, on a part-time basis, until his retirement.

In 1981 Ted and Jessie's only daughter Cassie died, a blow from which neither of them ever recovered. Always a great reader, Ted sought an ever-increasing refuge in his books. Although he had abandoned his Roman Catholic faith by the time he left Cambridge, he had always had an open mind on religious matters, reading widely and holding long debates with ordained friends. With little time for dogmas or church discipline, Ted was nevertheless always devoted to the person of Christ and he finally found a kindred spirit in the writings of Leslie Weatherhead, adopting as his definition of himself the title of one of Weatherhead's books, The Christian Agnostic. In his later years Ted cut a lonely figure, but could still remember former pupils when prompted.

This is in fact a direct copy of the tribute written by Rev Rosemary Dale in our Spring Newsletter in 2005.      Click to confirm