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Obituary – Barry Armstrong

The entire farming community of Cathcart and further afield, and in particular Dohne Merino breeders, both locally and as far as Australia and the Falkland islands, mourn the untimely and tragic passing of one of their best loved sons = Barry Armstrong. Barry was brutally assaulted when he disturbed intruders at the Cathcart Bowls Clubhouse on Saturday evening 28 November. His injuries were so serious that he never regained consciousness, and died peacefully on Friday morning 5 December.

It is not possible to adequately pay tribute to a person of his remarkable calibre, and do justice to the enormous contribution he made during his lifetime to the many organisation and institutions with which he was actively involved. He will be remembered as a gentle and humble family man who, with his wife Gillian, raised three wonderful children in whom they instilled fine ethical and moral values. He was a most loyal friend to all who knew him – a fine role model, an example and an inspiration to all who were privileged to be involved with him in the many and varied facets of his remarkable life.

Educated at Cathcart High School, Kingswood College, Grahamstown and Cedara Agricultural College, endowed with a keen intelligence and ambition, he soon developed a small farming business into a large and highly successful enterprise specializing in sheep and wool production and beef cattle, with the world famous Eastern Dohne Central Nucleus stud as the flagship division of his business. He will be remembered particularly as an entrepreneur with a flair for making good decisions and carrying them out successfully.

He excelled in all the activities with which he became involved. Not only was he a brilliant scholar, but he made his mark in various sporting activities, primarily as a long distance runner. While at Cedara he completed the Comrades Marathon in 1956, coming 20th in a very competitive field. He later became a successful bowler and prominent member of the Cathcart Bowls Club. During military service he served with distinction in the First City Regiment rising to the rank of Major.

His contribution in the field of sheep breeding cannot be surpassed. In the early 1970s he became a major proponent of the cooperative system of group breeding in South Africa. Based on these principles the Nucleus Dohne Stud he and Gillian managed became the benchmark of breeding excellence, visited by a constant stream of local and international sheep breeders who came to learn from his success and follow his example. He was a pioneer in the use of computers in sheep recording and farm management as early as 1980, both he and Gillian becoming extremely competent – always willing and able to assist others to adopt this new and often daunting technology. On numerous occasions Barry had the distinction of being named Top Dohne Breeder in the Eastern Cape. His was one of the first Dohne studs to export embryos to Australia in 1998 and his stud had a major impact on the development and success of the Dohne there. In 2006 he was invited to the Falkland Islands to assist them in improving their breeding methods – a mission that was crowned with success. His many devoted followers there have achieved great success as a result of the systemsto which Barry introduced them. He served on many organisations associated with the sheep industry being actively involved in the Federation of Livestock Breeding Groups and various committees appointed to assist the Fleece Testing Centre at Middelburg with the mission to improve sheep recording systems and performance testing. Barry’s legacy, the Eastern Dohne Central Nucleus stud, is now in the very capable hands of his son Richard.

However it will be for his loyal friendship, his willingness to help and support all who knew him and the valuable and sage advice he was prepared to give to those who sought it, that he will be remembered with gratitude. His many friends, his family and his staff will remember him with great affection and will mourn his passing. Our profound sympathy and condolences are extended to his wife Gillian, his children Karen, Richard and Cheryl and their families, and we take comfort in the firm knowledge that this heritage will persist and that he is now resting in peace.