Home > Trail tales > 2006 > JR's 80th

A salute for an 80th birthday ...
John Ransom


Check out some super photos.


Who is this legend?  Born in the UK, the younger of two sons of an architect father, John was first attracted to an athletic lifestyle while attending boarding school in Sussex.  When war broke out, he joined the Irish Guards and army training included scaling and descending the Welsh mountains at speed!  At the end of his initiation, he was consigned to guard duties at Buckingham Palace for a few months before being sent to Palestine.  It was here that he fell under the spell of the hills surrounding Saudi Arabia.


After the ware, he joined his family, who had since relocated to South Africa, settling in Johannesburg.  His first job as draughtsman was with the construction company awarded the contract for building Soweto.  His claim to fame was designing toilets.  As john puts it, ‘he enjoyed drawing, but drew no money!’ and so he changed career and ventured into the advertising world which suited him very well, ‘spending other people’s money”.  During this time, he served on various committees including MASA.


After the time of retiring from the corporate world, John’s first wife was terminally ill with emphysema.  Shortly after her death, 21 years ago, he was introduced to the JHC, a move which was to change his life.  He had become disinterested in golf.  Now middle aged, he arrived at Jeppe train station – and the beginning of a long and dedicated involvement with the club.  In addition to leading a group of JHC members to Everest in 1990, he was also president for 11 years before Howard Rayner succeeded him in 2004.


After three years of widowhood, his son, Dave, was instrumental in seating his wife’s widowed aunt next to John at the family Christmas dinner – they have now been married for 12 years. 


John’s family home was in Edenvale but when he married Sue, his youngest son, Mike, bought the property.  For two years, John and Sue lived in a church rectory before settling into their present home in Rivonia.


Photography is one of his favourite hobbies, in fact, a photo taken early one morning while on honeymoon at Cathedral Peak earned him a silver medal from the Photographic Society.


While admitting to being somewhat squeamish, he has a very strong medical connection – his one son is a doctor and both wives have been specialized nurses – ‘they make good wives,’ he boasts.


A family gathering at Foothold took place in July to celebrate his 80th birthday, when 14 family members, including himself, climbed to the top of the escarpment.  We salute you on your enviable fitness, John.


Jill Weldon