Roger Robert De Fence 1923 – 2003
The following text is the Eulogy given by Pierre, his son, at Roger’s funeral held on November 24th 2003 in La Massana Church.
Firstly, I would like to thank all the friends of the family for being here today and, in particular, for the help and support you have offered over recent months. It was greatly appreciated, especially since Paulette and I live so far away.
Today we are here to remember Dad. We remember Dad as… Dad the father, the husband, soldier, family man, entrepreneur, entertainer, businessman, animal lover, garden and car enthusiast, lover of fine food and wine and lover of life.
Dad was born in London and then educated in Glasgow in his junior years… perhaps this was why he was as bright as he was. He then went to boarding school in Epernay, France. Dad could keep the family intrigued by his stories of life in a French boarding school… for example, how he used to smuggle champagne into the dormitories (a good start in life for the years that were to follow).
Unfortunately, the Second World War disrupted Dad’s studies and he came back to Glasgow and enlisted in the army when he was seventeen. Dad trained as a commando and fought in Madagascar, India and Burma for six years. He also helped free prisoners from the Burma railway line. Those were tough years and Dad suffered from almost every jungle disease and fever known, not to mention being injured in action. Dad didn’t talk a great deal about the war. However, his medals for bravery tell us a story in themselves.
Dad survived all of this and returned to Glasgow where he started his career in hotel management and also met Mum. His work took him all over Scotland. But Dad had a hankering to be his own boss. So, when the opportunity came up to take the reins of the family business, he took on the challenge. And this he did very successfully right up until he retired.
In Between, Dad had a family, myself and Paulette, although not in that order, and then, of course, Kim and Corrie, our great friends, the dogs.
As I reflect, I also see Dad as a man of great patience when I think of the things Paulette and I used to get up to in our younger years. I remember, for example, one Saturday afternoon my friend and I were looking for something to eat. We found a most delicious meal all prepared in the fridge and, assuming it was for us because we were doing some building work in the garden, we ate it. However, it was actually the dinner for guests that evening! I also remember taking my motorbike to bits (often) in the garden and getting oil all over the garage, and, somehow, the kitchen units as well (they happened to be white). He also put up with my biker friends their motorbikes up and down the street, much to the annoyance of the neighbours. Yes, a very patient man indeed!
Dad’s hard work allowed him eventually to spend time in pursuing one of his great loves, horses. When not at work or with the family, Dad would be riding one of his horses out on the moors around Glasgow or in more exotic locations such as Barbados. He certainly managed to keep the medics fully employed wherever he went. I have lost count of how many bones he broke from being thrown off. His horse tales could take a whole afternoon in themselves!
In his retirement years, Dad loved to travel and made friends in the south of Spain and the south of France where he and Mum enjoyed many winters.
It was a great bonus to me and the family to spend time with them in all those wonderful destinations, as well as Andorra where, as you know in the house in Pal, his garden was his pride and joy.
The rest of the story you will mostly know because many of you were part of it here in Andorra.
I would like to think that Dad is now in peace and sharing these memories with us.