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News > Obits > Don Furze

Don Furze

15 Jun 2023
Written by Cait Spencer

Don sadly passed away on Wednesday 4th May 2022 after a period of ill health.

Eulogy written by Rich Berry

I first met Don in 1973 when I was 9. Don was at the time 2nd Xv Captain at Old Bristolians RFC a club my Dad had recently joined. Little did I know then that our lives would be intertwined for the next 49 years.

Don joined Bristol Grammar School in 1955 & left in 1962, he was in Lucas’ House, notes from school sat that he liked caving, rugby, cricket and fives. As far as our records tell me he made his debut for the rugby club at some point shortly leaving. He certainly appears in the match stats book of March 1963 playing in the last 4 games of the season against BAC, Bishopston, Chippenham & Letherby & Co in the 1st Xv playing in the centre.

In the season 65/66 he scored 1 try (3pts) for the 1st Xv in 3 appearances & 67 points 17 cons 5 trys & 6 pens for the 2nds in 23 appearances.

Now the wonderful thing about the game of rugby is that it caters for people of all shapes and sizes. Your giants, your athletes, your rotund pillars of society and your small nippy men and today, women. Don definitely fell into the latter category of small and nippy.

Don was an ever present whether that be on a Saturday in the winter or at preseason running and football. All through my youth he was there.

Age 14 having played at school in the morning I went to watch my Dad play at Yatton in the afternoon. The 3’s who were also playing there were short of players. Don it was who spotted me in the back of the conversation me looked me in the eye and said “Fancy it” I nodded and grinned “Cmon then” he said putting his arm around me” A man of few words but someone you implicitly trusted. He put me away for a few tries that day and after said “enjoy that, around next week?” So it was that I played 7 games that season. After each one it was, Don saying well done. Because that’s what he did.

We have an acronym within the club of GCM. GCM is used when someone does something to benefit the club. Good Club Man. Well Don was GCM in everyway, all the time.

He loved the club through it’s ups and downs. He played in every team 1sts to 4ths. He captained and vice captained 2’s, 3’s & 4’s. He was the fixture secretary for a number of years. He ran a fund raiser called the 1532 draw annually.

As I have said he was not a big man someone not designed for the bump and grind of the scrummage and the dark arts of the front row. However, 30 years after his try scoring exploits as a 19-year-old in the 1st team he was to be found playing loosehead prop in the 3rds. When I asked him what he was doing his response was that others wouldn’t get a game if we didn’t have a front row. He was selfless to the last. Although he secretly confided that he enjoyed it.

A GCM in gold letters. Our records show that he played over 1000 games for the club, over a 30-year period, which I believe to be a club record.

When Garth Morris decided to stand down as President of the Rugby Club we turned to Don. Self-reflective as ever he turned it down, he said he didn’t possibly deserve it and nominated someone else. However, throughout my tenure as president he was always there to offer advice, he was actually quite shy and retiring and preferred a supportive role than that of being front and centre.

A few years ago the Rugby Club instituted caps for those who have gone above and beyond as GCMs. Don was obviously one of the first to be presented. At a vice presidents luncheon and past players luncheon we gave him his cap some were shocked when he was reduced to tears, but it. It was at that point that we understood what the club meant to him.

There are many club members who would have liked to have been here today but are unable to attend. I asked them for comments or things they would like to say, and everyone said that Don was kind, supportive, welcoming & friendly.

Tim Thorne says:

“Like everyone else associated with the rugby club, I have benefited over time from Don’s warm, calm and positive nature; always providing a cheer for the soul and inspiration whenever one was taking to the field of play. 

However, I was also blessed to have benefitted from Don’s support and encouragement in Sports Club matters too, in my role as Old Bristolians Sports Club Chairman. In the committee environment, Don provided the same consistent, diligent and unassuming yet hugely appreciated input.

In considering what difference Don made I’d propose that, like a warm hug, by his very presence he made everyone and everything nicer, friendlier and happier. The beauty for those of us that knew Don is that, in these days of mindfulness and “be kind” messaging, we all know that we can achieve these heights and more when we all aim to just be more Don.” Thanks Tim.

It was in 1998 when a vacancy on the OBs sports club arose as Secretary that Don took over as a TEMPORARY! measure until a permanent appointment could be found. He stood aside fourteen years later in 2013. However, he remained on the committee as Society Sports Club Officer and attended all meetings up until 2020.

It was in 2013 that Don was elected to the Old Bristolians Society Presidency. A position he was truly honoured to fulfil. He enjoyed travelling to the various dinners with Pauline and meeting alumni far and wide to spread the positivity of the OBs. He remained an active member of the society committee until covid prevented him from attending meetings. I believe I owe him a debt of thanks as I believe it was he who nominated myself for the same role in 2019 for which I am truly grateful.

After his playing career was over he disappeared for 6 months or so and when I eventually caught up with him he told me had been going to watch the Bristol club but that he found it boring and was returning to watch OBs his rugby club where he felt at home. So it was that for the next 20 years or so he travelled every Saturday with Gerry Miles & my Dad to support the club across Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset. The players referred to them as Statler & Waldorf, who were the old guys from the muppets shouting and cracking jokes that none of the youngsters understood. My Dad shouting “not straight,Cmon Ref” Gerry telling everyone “it was better in my day”, and Don just giving encouragement with “Cmon you B’s”. His regular support will be truly missed.

I recently came across a very long poem about why we play rugby I know it is something that would have made Don smile, so I just want to finish by reading you the ending:

From the first time that you laced a boot

And tightened every stud

That virus known as rugby

Has been living in your blood

When you dreamt it when you played it

All the rest took second fiddle

Now you’re standing on the side line

But your hearts still in the middle

And no matter where you travel

You can take it as expected

There will always be a breed of people

Hopelessly infected

If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him

Like a gravitating force

With a common understanding

And a beer or three, of course

And as you stand there telling lies

Like it was yesterday old friend

You’ll know that if you had the chance

You’d do it all again

You see – that’s the thing with rugby

It will always be the same

And that, I guarantee

Is why you played the game!

Rest in peace my friend.

Rich Berry, Past President

From the Chronicle

  • Dec 1955 won Simmer’s Shield
  • July 1955 in the Cricket team U13 XI
  • Dec 1957 and April 1958  in the Rugby team Junior XV
  • July 1958  in the Cricket team Junior Colts XI
  • March 1959 in the Rugby team Junior Colts XV
  • July 1959 in the Cricket team  Colts XI
  • July 1959 Was the captain of the House Cricket Team (Lucas’s) and was commended ‘The outstanding performances in the final were the bowling of Furze, the captain, and the batting of Vaughan’
  • July 1960  awarded House colours for Fives
  • July 1961 appointed a House Prefect (Lucas’s)
  • Dec 1961 and April  1962 in the Rugby team 2nd XV
  • July 1962 appointed pro-prefect , photograph of Furze in the prefect group
  • From 1987 onwards he was closely associated with the Old Bristolians starting with being Chairman of the Sports Club in 1987.
  • 2013 President and Sports Club Officer 2013-14,
  • Attended Oxford Dinner 2013

From the Sports Club
In his long career at OBs Don not only played for the 2nds, 3rds, 4ths & vets he also fulfilled a number of committee roles. In his last few playing seasons he would often turn out in the frontrow to make sure the team got a game, not bad for a small winger.
In the last decade he has followed the 1st Xv across Western Counties. He will be greatly missed across all areas of the club.
Details about funeral arrangements will be posted in due course. Our thoughts at this time are with Pauline and the rest of the family.

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