Contribution by Lucy Tarr:
In 1949 a stay in the Livingstone Hospital for severe conjunctivitis resulted in the contraction of a rare eye disease never before seen outside of India. Ralph's eyesight was only saved by the unusual action of injecting Cortisone directly into the eyeballs (without local anaesthetic) by a Bulawayo Opthalmologist visiting Livingstone. When Ralph & Winnie went on long leave in 1950, the Harley Street Specialist Ralph saw, praised Dr Greenwood for his innovative action. Cortisone had only been on the market as the new wonder drug of the age for about a year and little was known about the drug in Central Africa.
With the advent of the Central African Federation, Ralph was asked to head up the new amalgamated department but as he intended retiring in 1956, he requested to be Deputy Chief Engineer. However, the sudden demise of the newly appointed Head resulted in Ralph having to accept the post of Chief Engineer and remaining in service until the end of 1959.
He and Winnie retired to the Umgusa Valley Irrigation scheme just north of Bulawayo where they purchased a small holding of 6 acres under irrigation with a lovely two-bedroomed thatched cottage on the property. Retirement saw Ralph working just as hard as before but in a different way. He took time to build from scratch, a radiogram in a roll-top handmade cabinet. The radio dial and tape and record player turntable were the only things factory-bought and brought back to Bulawayo after his last long leave due for service during the War years.
I lived at home for a period of 4 months in 1961 before heading to Cape Town, during which time Mother went to Cape Town to look after Granny May. Coming home from the hospital one night, the only Brandy I could find was a bottle of 10 year old KWV given to Dad by yourselves. He was horrified when he came in for dinner to find I had desecrated the Brandy with COKE !!! To him it was sacrilege.
During my leave in December 1962, I noted that Dad was not very well but he refused to go to the Dr. (Quacks he called them all ) ! Again in December 1963 he suffered acute Cardiac failure following an exercise to install a new pump in the borehole. Heart transplants were only science fiction still and medication just didn't work. At the beginning of April Janet phoned me in Durban to say come home. Four days after I arrived he died peacefully. His ashes are in the Garden of Remembrance in Bulawayo and I intend taking them up to Livingstone and having them interred with Mother's ashes at the Gravesite of Arthur Squires.