Keith Stuart Wallace Dunlop, 29th of that Ilk


Keith Stuart Wallace Dunlop, 29th of that Ilk, passed on May 20, 2006. Please keep him  and his family in your thoughts. The following eulogy was given by his son James at his service in May. Many thanks to Alex Dunlop, his daughter, for allowing us this glimpse into this outstanding Dunlop's very interesting life.

 Pa’s Eulogy (by James Dunlop)

"Pa combined the manners and civilization of his 19th century father with a love of technology. His father, born in January 1866, was living a relaxed life with a third of the year in London, a third of the year abroad, and a third of the year in Devon where he fished.

It was in Devon that Pa was born in 1924, and where he went to prep school. His teachers found a very independent child as, at home, his Father's attitude to children was that they were to be “considered as retired Colonels, until proven otherwise”.

When the Wall Street crash interrupted family finances, they moved to Looe in Cornwall where home was an old railway wagon that played host to the family of five and a housemaid, their one remaining retainer. Their mother was horrified by the change in circumstances, but Pa, Roy, and Ian loved their time there, albeit that living conditions were remembered by Pa as being 'rather matey'.

Later they moved to Peaslake in Surrey, a sleepy area that Pa and Roy tried to liven up. On one occasion they and a friend hoped to produce some dramatic effect one midnight by galloping down the high street on horses, firing revolvers in the air. Sadly no one seemed to notice.

Pa found greater fun at Corpus Christi, Oxford, where he and his friends regularly missed the college curfew thereby found themselves locked out of their rooms and forced to call on the Salvation Army for a bed or risk being impaled as they climbed over the college railings. The Salvation Army lost several customers, and his undergraduate friends suffered fewer injuries after Pa created an illicit copy of the college gate key from an imprint secured in an elaborate operation to distract the porters from the lodge. An operation that was only just successful as Pa encountered a returning, but happily still unsuspecting, porter while making his getaway.

Pa's time at Oxford was interrupted by the war. Time with Slim's 14th army in Burma left him with a lack of enthusiasm for the Japanese. A similar disregard was held for the Royal Artillery which at one time decided to shell Pa and his train of Mules carrying radio equipment. Pa was lucky to survive that attack, and as the sole survivor used the one remaining No17 radio to send his views back to base camp. His analysis was not appreciated, and resulted in him being placed under open arrest which lasted the 2 ½ years of the rest of the war.

Burma, while ghastly in so many ways, did have one good side for Pa. He got on very well with a girl from the Karen hill tribes. Unfortunately, the girl was a princess, and a match with a local Prince had been planned for her. The prince who was allied to the British, arranged for Pa to be posted to another part of Burma in order that the arranged union could proceed as planned. It says a lot about Pa that instead of going along with the plans laid out for her, this girl instead walked through several hundred miles of jungle to be reunited with him. The birthday present that she brought him: a pack of six crisp new cotton handkerchiefs, was treasured for decades.

Against the odds, Pa survived the war. Very thin and hungry, but with a single injury. He fell into the only ornamental goldfish pond in Burma and cut his ear so badly that it almost fell off. In search of treatment he walked six miles and was finally operated on by an army doctor who had drink taken. The highly erratic stitching was visible on Pa's left ear for another 60 years.

After the War, Pa lived in London and occasionally paid lip service to the 20th century idea that a chap should work for a living. This notion, alien to his own father, was never really embraced by Pa or Arthur's other sons. At one point, employment having come to an end, Pa was looking at his outgoings. Prominent among them was his cleaner. Rather than loose her, Pa took a job washing dishes. The job paid Pa 1 shilling an hour, and allowed him to keep on the cleaner whom he paid 2 shillings an hour.

Post war London involved occasional encounters with unreasonable policemen who failed to distinguish between high spirits and “Drunk & Disorderly”, and magistrates who could be more understanding about such situations.

One of Pa's favourite sayings was “a good turn never goes unpunished”. This view of the world may have been affected by his own poor luck. I remember him telling me of an occasion when his then car, a Rolls Royce, burst into flames while he was driving it through the countryside. A passing farmer saw Pa's situation and smothered the fire by tipping over the car a trailer-load of earth. Pa was hugely disappointed. The Rolls was in poor condition, and had been fully insured against fire.

When he was 30, Pa lost his left arm; an accident which he never allowed to limit his life. He remained an enthusiastic motorist, not only ignoring the technical legal requirement that he drive a modified car, but also eschewing the soft option of automatic transmission. After all, as he could steer very well with his right knee, it was a simple matter to depress the clutch with his left foot while using his arm to change gear.

At the early age of 43, he met my mother, Elizabeth. Within a month they were engaged, and rapidly married. His half-brother Peter has remarked on the increased happiness and contentment of Pa's life after this time. He had certainly found a very loving individual who understood him and provided a wonderful balance for Pa, having complimentary attributes.

He was the sort of father that all boys want; relaxed and accepting about the risks that boys want to take. In a few things, like climbing trees, he would just let us get on with it (I say 'us' as, while Alex and Phil were both girls, they were not greatly limited by the fact). In most, he provided advice and coaching. He taught us to drive on farm tracks, and began instructing us at a size when we had to choose between touching the pedals and looking out of the windscreen.

He was a good shot, and shot standing up rather than prone, which was no mean feat with only one arm. His scientific inclinations meant that he could give great advice when I was making fireworks, although many of the ingredients that he recommended, and which he had used during his thirties childhood, had, to the great relief of my mother, become unavailable by the seventies. The lack of a key component also plagued our few fishing trips. After one particularly energetic outing which involved gazelle-like leaps between rocks in the fast-flowing Dordogne, but produced no actual fish, Pa observed that his only really successful fishing had been during the war when the use of a grenade had made the fish slightly more co operative. Lacking a ready supply of grenades, we removed Fishing from the agenda of future holidays.

Pa was very stoical, and could be slightly puritanical. One of the first things we were told as children was that “The worse a medicine tastes, the more good it does you”; his view being that modern sweet-tasting medicines were designed for hypochondriacs who didn't really need treatment. Even quite recently, I recall being told Pa's complaint that what the GP had prescribed “Tastes far too nice. It can't be doing me any good”.

Looking through newspaper clippings from the 1950s, it is easy to see why his mother's morning newspapers were vetted by their stepfather. Any unsuitable news items were removed. The offending items were not caused by Pa, but his keen seafaring and occasionally cigarette smuggling and gun running older brother Roy who was usually cited as “Ex-public schoolboy and man-about-Mayfair Roy Wallace-Dunlop”. Pa was very close to Roy when they were growing up, but was far less flamboyant and more patient. As a children, when learning about gardening, they were both given a seed to plant. Pa did very little to nourish his, but the benign neglect was more effective than Roy's more hands-on approach which involved digging the seed up every 3 days to see how it was progressing. As a father, Pa was anything but neglectful, but did show a great patience and kind persistence when dealing with his children – a patience which I no doubt tested on many occasions.

Pa's low-key approach to life, and the contrast with Roy can also be seen in their differing approach to the Dunlop family history. When Roy was head of the family, his title of the 28th Dunlop of that Ilk seems to have been interpreted expansively by him as, on his death, we received various affectionate stories about 'Lord Dunlop' from those he had known in central America. When Pa became the 29th Dunlop of Dunlop, he did not mention it, let alone trade on it.

I know little of Pa's work life as he did not talk about it much at home. He was a technical author, and wrote instruction manuals for various bits of heavy engineering equipment, submarines, nuclear power stations, and the like. The one explanation I recall him giving was that if a nuclear power station was about to go wrong, we had to hope that the staff would open his book of words and follow the instructions therein, instead of getting into their cars and leaving as quickly as possible, which might be a more natural response to impending disaster. The lack of a 'British Chernobyl' suggests he may have been successful in keeping the attention of the key staff at difficult moments.

It was always wonderful when Pa was on one's side. When my mother was taking a dim view of her children fare evading, Pa reasoned “The railway is publicly owned, which we are told means that we all own it. And what's the world coming to if a chap can't make the odd trip on his own railway”.

After twenty five years living first in Yorkshire, and then in the Bristol area, Ma and Pa returned to Devon. Pynda was just right for Pa, with its acres of outbuildings in which he could keep his cars, set up tools, and gardening equipment, and store a myriad of things which 'could be useful one day'.

Pa's inclination was towards vast understatement. He occasionally talked of discouraging something, such as an unwanted plant in the garden, or a Japanese soldier. It was several years before I realized that by 'discourage' Pa meant 'kill'.

Pa never complained, and would almost always say that he was very well when asked. In 2004, after two years of breathlessness and getting an average of under 3 hours sleep a night, and then being rushed to hospital with pneumonia, he would occasionally admit to feeling “rather moderate”. His uncomplaining description the next morning of a night in which the Doctor had expected him to die, and had not been far from the mark.

Pa was not always the easiest person to treat. Early in his suffering from lack of sleep and breathlessness, it was suggested to Pa that he should take pure Oxygen. Eventually he did, but only after we overcame his initial response of “That would be cheating”.

Pa was a keen bee keeper, or at least he was keen on honey and happy to mess around with a few bees to get it. Unfortunately the Verona virus killed off Pa's bees shortly after arrival in Devon – perhaps a blessing in disguise as he seldom bothered with much protective clothing. As a child I wondered how Pa avoided getting stung by his bees. In later life I discovered that he did not avoid it. He was stung but ignored the fact. If pressed, he would probably have said that use of the usual bee-keepers' protections was cheating.

Significant among the joys of being in Devon was the wonderful local pub, the Duke of York in Iddersleigh. Pa did not get to the Duke daily, or even every week, but Jamie, the landlord, has created an institution whose very existence is a tonic. Rather as Sir Humphrey said of the opera at Covent Garden: 'one may seldom have the time to go, but it is essential to civilisation that it exists'.

Let us now go to the Duke for a drink, and to remember Pa. As Pa observed, the pub's location, next to the Church, makes it very convenient for those who thirst after righteousness."

Dunlops and Dunlaps shall toast this lad around the world as we , in all the lands where Dunlops live, go to our own "Duke's" and remember our 29th Chief of the Name.

Here's to "Keefie", from all of us!

 Rest in Peace, Keith Stuart Wallace Dunlop, 29th of that Ilk