By Des Smith | Posted: Saturday January 7, 2023
Frank Cameron, a master at Otago Boys’ High School from 1956-89, sadly passed away recently at the grand old age of 90. As a teacher of History, of English and of Social Studies, as a sports coach and as Senior Master and Deputy Rector, he loyally served and assisted the education of a large number of boys. His wisdom, experience and commitment gave his students many opportunities.
I was fortunate to be a teaching colleague of Franks for 22 years, and in his last five years at OBHS, worked alongside him as Senior Master. He was meticulous in everything he did and set a great example to the staff and the boys. His background work on school policy, and his planning for courses and timetables for teachers, meant that Otago Boys’ High School was both effective and efficient in the delivery of its curriculum.
He coached the 1st Cricket XI successfully for many years. The boys who were fortunate enough to experience the knowledge of this former international player, will look back with admiration of the time they played under his tutelage. In those days the 1st XI coach was responsible for preparing the Littlebourne wicket, so Frank would spend many hours, (mainly in class time!), overseeing the rolling of the pitch by boys in his class. Quite often those in detention were also engaged afterschool in the same practice under Frank’s supervision. His record in interschool matches was second to none as he was fiercely competitive which rubbed off on his players.
In the winter months he would coach the cross-country teams again with incredible success. His main focus was on the team events at every age group from Under 14 through to Senior. All runners were of equal importance to Frank as even though you may not have counted for points, if you were keeping other schools further back then you were assisting the overall team result. Frank even had track shoes available for all boys to compete as the course was quite often very wet. In the Otago Championships the Blue ‘O’ was always to the fore with Mrs MacLachlan cheering on the boys to numerous victories.
Frank had his own chair in the staff-room. This was not arrogance but it was just the way it was in those days. In that alcove there was often Mag Sinclair, Bill Duncan, Tex Houston, Ferg McLean, Bill Trewern plus others, and we all played liar dice at morning tea and at lunchtime. Frank was a shrewd liar dice player and would very seldom get caught. He also joined in with table tennis and bowls in the staff-room, an important part of staff morale.
Frank Cameron was a special man. The attitude of “It has to be good, it must be good” determined the outcome of many events at the school. There could be no errors in planning and the expectation was that nobody, student or teacher, would give less than their best. That determination will be remembered by us all.
Otago Boys’ High School owes a huge debt of gratitude to F J Cameron MBE.
The flag on the tower block is now at half-mast as a mark of respect.
Des Smith MNZM