John Pank (OK 1958) died June 27, 2019

(24 October 1939 – 27 June 2019)

Born in Plymouth on 24 October 1939 to British parents returning from the Argentine by ship shortly after the outbreak of World War II after a perilous Atlantic crossing, John Christopher Lovell Pank was destined for a life of travel and adventure.

His early years in war-torn London were followed by a fine education at Windlesham House in Sussex and King’s College Wimbledon in London. He excelled at sport and developed leadership qualities as well as communication skills which would shape his future.

At the age of 19, John set sail by ship to his dream continent Africa, where he settled in Southern Rhodesia, swapping plans for life as a game ranger to become private secretary to the Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky, KCMG. He met and married his British-born actress wife Pauline in Rhodesia in 1963, qualified as a Chartered Secretary and after the break-up of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland joined the Anglo American Corporation in the gold and diamond industry in 1964, which enabled him extensive travel throughout Africa. When Rhodesia became politically unstable, John was transferred to Johannesburg in 1976 and emigrated to South Africa together with Pauline and daughter Jane, later changing career to work for the Standard Bank as Director of Information.

In his spare time, John supplemented his successful professional life with his interest in television, becoming a highly professional and immensely popular television presenter with his own weekly quiz show, for which he won the coveted South African national Artes Award. He was also a skilled, imaginative creative writer, award-winning playwright and poet.

Upon promotion to Standard Chartered Bank’s London headquarters in 1984, John was transferred back to England with his family and travelled extensively for work in Africa, the Gulf region and the Far East. After retirement, he and Pauline travelled widely, dividing their time between London and their second home in Cape Town. Always a great raconteur with an excellent wit and fine sense of humour, John loved entertaining and derived deep pleasure from family life, theatre, music, concerts, literature and art.

Shortly after retirement from work, John was diagnosed with a serious and rare form of incurable cancer. The perfect English gentleman, he bore repeated operations and treatments with courage, fortitude, patience, grace and humour, making light of his illness, uncomplaining and determined to enjoy the best possible quality of life for as long as he could. He died in London on 27 June 2019, just a few months short of his 80th birthday.

He is survived by his wife Pauline, to whom he was happily married for 55 years, daughter Jane and grandchildren Christopher, Julia, Henry, Caroline and Edward. He will be remembered for his keen intellect, generosity of spirit, kindness, tolerance and humour as a loving husband, devoted father and role-model grandfather to his five grandchildren.