COMPANION

Norwood Coaker

Norwood Edward Coaker (1892–1980) South African lawyer and pupil of Irene Tasker.

Life

Norwood Coaker obtained an MA in languages (the University of South Africa), a mixed degree of the University of South Africa (the University of the Cape) and amongst his subjects he studied mathematics and botany; he then obtained a Transvaal Second Class Teacher’s Certificate, and taught for six years in Secondary Schools in South Africa, before he became a barrister (LLB of the University of South Africa, and a King’s Counsel).[1] He was married to Vera Louise Coaker (neé Gilfillan, 1894–1947) with whom he had two sons, Anthony William Michael and John Francis.[2] William (1927–2014) had a severe concussion at the age of four and suffered from a number of problems, including a slight paralysis and night terrors. Coaker was advised by doctors that his son might be a congenitally defective child. Coakers’ second son, John Francis (†1987), was also of concern to his parents because he was ‘a puny child and he looked ailing and pasty’ and suffered from bronchial attacks (a doctor diagnosed asthma).[3] Both William and John started having lessons in August 1935 with Irene Tasker and improvement started within weeks. Coaker testified in the South African Libel Case in 1947 that both had grown into healthy, normal, young men. Coaker himself started lessons with Irene Tasker in January 1936. Before lessons he had suffered from backache and ‘sub-acute nephritis’ (a kidney condition) but both of those disappeared after having lessons.[4] Coaker gave evidence for Alexander in the South African Libel Case.[5]

Coaker was a member of the Community of the Resurrection, and following the death of his wife he spent more time with the Community, both in South Africa and at the Community at Mirfield, Yorkshire, where he entered the novitiate, and spent the rest of his life.[6] He here met Geoffrey Curtis, who became also a pupil of the Technique.

Writings

  • Coaker was a co-signaturer, with nine other people in South Africa, of a letter – ‘Physical Quirks’, September 1944[7] – protesting against the Manpower editorial of March 1944, which libelled Alexander.
  • ‘A review of the case of Alexander vs. Cluver, Jokl & Clarke’ by Norwood Coaker is a review of the South African Libel Case, published in the The Commerical Law Reporter, November 1949.[8]
  • ‘Some reflections on F. M. Alexander’ by M. E. Coaker [sic] considers the Alexander Technique as a great discontinuity with traditional thought (with reference to Christopher Dawson’s idea of cultural discontinuity occurring from time to time in human history).[9]

Norwood Edward Coaker *19 March 1892 – †10 June 1980.

See also Irene Tasker, Geoffrey Curtis, South African Libel Case.

References

[1] South African Libel Case 1948 Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2016), p. 234.
[3] South African Libel Case 1948 Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2016), pp. 236–237.
[4] South African Libel Case 1948 Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2016), p.pp. 238–39.
[5] Norwood Coaker examination and cross-examination, 18 February 1948, in South African Libel Case 1948 Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2016), pp. 234–64.
[6]  The Obituary of Norwood Coaker CR by Keith Davie CR, The Michaelmas 1980 issue of the Community of the Resurrection Quarterly  no. 310, pp. 13–15.
[7] ‘Physical Quirks’ by Thos. D. Hall et. al. Letter in the Cape Times, 18 September 1944, p. 4. Also in A Means To An End – Articles and Letters on the Alexander Technique 1909–1955 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2015), pp. 83–84.
[8] ‘A review of the case of Alexander vs. Cluver, Jokl & Clarke’ by Norwood Coaker, K.C. in The Commerical Law Reporter, November 1949, pp. 650-662. Also in South African Libel Case 1948 Vol. 4 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2016), p. 1391–1404.
[9] ‘Some reflections on F. M. Alexander’ by M. E. Coaker [sic, should be N. E. Coaker] in The Alexander Journal no. 8 edited by Wilfred Barlow (STAT, 1978), pp. 2–4.