Oliver J. Timothy was born on January 3rd., 1913, the son of James Timothy and his wife Catherine (née ) Thomas of 12 King Street in Cwmdare. Oliver had two brothers, John who was older and Ewart who was younger. Then followed three sisters, in order the oldest first: Frances, Betty and Rona. Oliver’s father became a Relieving Officer after initially working as a weigher in a colliery. The Welsh-speaking family worshipped at Elim, (Welsh Congregational), Chapel, in Bwllfa Road. All three boys attended the elementary school in Cwmdare, and from there, all passed into the County School in Trecynon.
Oliver gained his CWB School Certificate in 1929, with Matriculation Equivalence; then obtained a Supplementary Pass in Mathematics in 1930; and his Higher Certificate in 1931. His subjects were English, Latin and French.
From school he proceeded to University College, Cardiff, where he graduated in 1934 with a B.A. degree in French. Much later, in 1975, he obtained an M.A. for a thesis entitled, “Elementary education in the Aberdare valley from 1800 to 1902 with special reference to the Aberdare School Board.”
After university at Cardiff he undertook various teaching jobs until the outbreak of World War 2, when he joined the RAF and worked in the intelligence service in the Middle East. By the autumn of 1942, he had achieved the nominal rank of Flying Officer.
After the War, Oliver resumed his teaching career and held a post in Towyn, Merionethshire. In 1946, he married Mattie Abraham1, who at that time was a mathematics teacher at Cardiff High School. After marriage, they moved west, he taught Latin at Lampeter Secondary School — leaving in 1948, and then to Ammanford where he taught French at Amman Valley Grammar School, (AVGS). Finally, making a break with teaching, Oliver moved to Brecon where he took up the post of County Youth Organiser.
In 1955, his career then took a significant change of direction when he entered the field of educational administration, being appointed to the post of Divisional Education Officer for Aberdare and Mountain Ash, working from the Education Offices in the Rock Grounds in Aberdare. Oliver and Mattie set up home in Cwmdare, in Trem-y-Fro, a detached house near the top of Cwmdare Road — not far from his boyhood home. Oliver also returned to the chapel he attended as a boy and became a deacon there. During this period when they lived in Cwmdare, Mattie taught at both the Boys’ and Girls’ grammar schools.2 During the fifteen years at the education offices, Oliver Timothy became a well known member of the community. There were frequent meetings of various education committees which were painstakingly reported in The Aberdare Leader. At a meeting in St. Mary’s Social Centre to mark the conclusion of his duties in Aberdare, much praise was expressed by numerous councillors and other colleagues: the chairs and vice chairs of the AUDC, the education executive, Rev C.W. Arthur & D. Gordon James for the governors of The National School and Mardy House Secondary School, and the Divisional Medical Officer of Health Dr. J. Llewellyn Williams. To quote from one of the many accolades, this one by Councillor Tom Davies concluded with the words, “We are extremely sorry to see you going. You have always been a good friend, ambassador and one of nature’s perfect gentlemen.”
In 1970, upon his appointment as an Assistant Director of Education for the Glamorgan County Council at County Hall Cardiff, Oliver and Mattie moved from Cwmdare to Radyr. Shortly afterwards, Mattie resumed her mathematics teaching, this time at Penarth. It was not long before Oliver was again promoted, to the post of Deputy Director of Education for Glamorgan3. Then in 1978, Oliver retired when he had reached the age of 65. The couple then spent a happy 23 years of retirement together. It was during his retirement that he joined the Cwmbach Male Voice Choir, necessitating frequent trips home for practices. He really enjoyed his singing, especially hymns.
He was an avid reader, especially biographies of politicians and statesmen, and would devour the newspaper every day. Dust could gather in the house whilst he and Mattie would pursue their reading and musical interests. In the home, Radio 3 and latterly Classic FM were very popular radio stations, as well as his old vinyl records he played on his cherished radiogram. He was also a great fan of various sports, particularly watching rugby and athletics, as well as cricket which he played in his younger days. Oliver was definitely not a materialist, he had little or no interest in what money could buy. Indeed, Mattie had to work hard on him to take a holiday. He was much more concerned with family and friends. Although he and Mattie had no children of their own, they both enjoyed seeing and playing with the family children. In his final years nothing raised his spirits more than visits from the youngest members of the family.
Mattie died in 2001 at the age of 82, but Oliver remained at the house in Radyr until June 2003. Indeed, the 33 years living near Cardiff was the longest settled period he had spent throughout his life. After Radyr, he lived for a while at Aberpennar House in Mountain Ash before transferring to Tegfan Care Home, in Llewellyn Street, Trecynon. His final move, to be nearer family members, was to Morgannwg House, Brecon, where he eventually died on November 10, 2009. His funeral service took place at Llwydcoed Crematorium ten days later on November 20th. There was magnificent singing at the service, helped on by his old friends from Côr Meibion Cwmbach.
Throughout his life and following his death he was renowned as a “gentleman.” All those who knew him will endorse this view, and it is often the first thing people say when his name is mentioned, Gwr bonheddig.
1 Mattie Abraham was born in May 1919, and brought up at 38 Oxford Street in the Gadlys, the daughter of a colliery platelayer, Albert Abraham and his wife Elizabeth. She attended Aberdare County School for Girls leaving there in 1937 with a Miners’ Welfare Scholarship. She graduated with a First in mathematics from Bedford College, London and after gaining her Cert. Ed. in Cambridge began a career in secondary school teaching. She taught in many schools: King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth, Lincolnshire; Cardiff High School; Lampeter Secondary School; Llanelli Girls’ Grammar School; Brecon Boys’ Grammar School; the two Grammar Schools in Aberdare; and finally in Penarth. She died in 2001. The photograph of Mattie is taken from a class photograph of 1935.
2 See the ABGS Staff Photograph for 1957, and the AGGS 1963 and 1965 Staff Photographs elsewhere on this website.
3 When, under the Local Government Act 1972, reorganisation occurred in 1974 and the old GCC was abolished, Oliver moved across to the Mid Glamorgan education department. There, amongst other things, he was responsible for Welsh Medium Schools.
4. Also in the photograph: 4th from the left in the back row, in a vertically striped sweater, is O.J. Evans who became Headmaster at AVGS, 1954–1976. O.J. Evans has his hands on the shoulders of the man, first from the left in the second row. This man is H. Meurig Evans, co-editor of Y Geiriadur Mawr, (1st ed. 1958, Abertawe & Llandysul), the very popular Welsh-English / English Welsh Dictionary.
Acknowledgements: The invaluable help of Mrs Janet Hills, (née James), Oliver’s niece, is gratefully acknowledged. Without it, this account of her uncle Ol’s career could not have been written.
30 September 2018