Friday, 9 March 2012

Richard Langdale-Smith

I attended the funeral of Richard Langdale-Smith earlier this week. Richard was an active player at the Tuggeranong Chess Club around 10 years ago. I was the only chess player at his funeral, which wasn't that much of a surprise,although it was one of the largest funerals I have attended in recent times. Why I say it wasn't that much of a surprise was that Richard was a fairly unassuming chess player, although this hid who he really was. Apart from playing at Tuggeranong he was also a regular at the Saturday morning coaching sessions Peter Simpson and I ran. While the coaching was open to all ages, Richard, who was in his 60's at the time, would find himself surrounded by 9 and 10 year olds. However he did not mind this as he was well aware that learning can happen at any age. And it was this love of learning that was revealed in his background. Rather than just being a 60 something chess player struggling to break 1200, he was much more than that. He was born in England in 1935, and had an early interest in chemistry. Upon leaving school he went to University and completed a Doctorate in Organic Chemistry. He moved to the United States and was a researcher in pharmaceuticals until his mid 30's (as well as being a skier and white water rafter). He then decided upon a change of career, and following in the footsteps of his parents, decided to become another sort of doctor, enrolling in medical school in Canada. It was here he met his future wife, Gill, and after he completed his degree, moved to Australia, where she came from. He then spent 15 years as a GP in Leeton, NSW before settling in Canberra in 1994. He then rekindled an earlier love for chess and became a familiar part of the local chess scene. And it was here that I met him, a man who was both a medical doctor and a Phd, sitting happily amongst a group of kids, learning yet another skill.


Paul said...

We need more people like him in this world...R.I.P.

Libby said...

Lovely. lovely man that I had the pleasure to know as Kayleigh attended the Saturday morning coaching over many years. It's been a number of years since I ran into Richard but he was a fantastic inclusion to the Saturday morning playing group and a very personable, cheerful gentleman with a word of encouragement for all.

I'm sorry to hear of his passing (and not to know in advance of his funeral).



Lorena said...

So very sorry to hear of his passing. I grew up in Leeton and he was my Doctor. He believed I was meant for great things and told me once I was a freak of nature, he believed I was so smart. I took that as a compliment and I wanted to prove him right so at 54 years of age became a Lawyer in the ACT. I just wish he was alive to know.

Christopher Barnes. said...

Christopher Barnes said...
I was sorry to learn today that Richard Langdale-Smith had died. I went to school with him in Herefordshire in England in the 1950s. His father was greatly admired, and was our family doctor when doctors made home visits.
I decided today to contact him, but my search was of course in vain.
I met him again in Australia in the 1980s and learned that he became a popular doctor in Leeton. I also remember well his attractive wife Gill.
Christopher Barnes.