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Gerald Groffman Obituary

Gerald Neil Groffman (CR 1973-96), an elegant and learned man, came to Marlborough with his New Zealander wife Prue in 1973 where he taught French, Russian, Spanish, Italian and German. He began the Oriental Studies project in the mid 1980s, making Marlborough the first British secondary school to introduce Arabic (which he learnt and later taught), Chinese and Japanese. He was inspiring, uncompromising and ferociously diligent. When he taught a lower set, his pupils often outperformed those in the set above.

He was born in North London in 1931, survived the heavy bombing of his neighbourhood, served in the British Army in Suez, and read French and Russian at Pembroke College, Oxford. In the 1960s he acted at the Tower Theatre in London, but gave up performing in 1967 when he met Prue, to whom he proposed after just one month.  Once married, he accepted a teaching job at Loretto in Scotland, where he and Prue stayed until tempted South again six years later. They produced many plays together at Marlborough, and he wrote songs for musicals.

He was a Jew and made friends with people of any race or creed.  He studied and enlightened others about Islamic and German culture in the belief that knowledge of other cultures and languages is key to avoiding conflict.  Both Prue and Gerald were happy and had many friends at Marlborough and so after he retired, they chose to stay.  He passed away peacefully on November 17th, 2023.  Prue died just two months later, her heartbreak proving the strength of their fifty-six-year marriage.  They leave behind their sons Alex (PR 1988-93) and Nicolas (PR 1985-90) and three grandchildren.