Mrs Priscilla Krempl, RIP. Thanks for being part of my St. Andrew’s heritage.

This ST photo which The New Paper used online captures that image in the minds of many Saints. Thanks to Santokh Singh for the lovely tribute. Thanks to Chan Jan Ho for posting this image at The St. Andrew’s Family Facebook group.


It is with a heavy heart that I learnt that Mrs Priscilla Krempl passed away.

Mr Yee Teck Peng wrote to the SaintsDYK list on 1st December 2011 to say,


“I am sad to announce that


has passed away.

She was a student of St Margaret’s and St Andrew’s Pre-U,

a teacher and Principal of St Andrew’s Sec School.

RIP Priscilla.”

I can imagine her singing,

“Up Boys! Truest fame
Lies in high endea-vour
Play the game
Keep the flame
Burning brightly ever!”

At St. Andrew’s, we loved our teachers but they were demi-gods who ruled us boys with a strict hand. Just as well, I have to say!

Priscilla Krempl introduced me to the game of rugby in 1981 during PE. I was half-terrified and half-excited when we trotted out to the vast field next to the Kallang River that morning. I took to the game like duck to water and in that first game, I remember Mrs Krempl laughingly pull aside Samuel Chacko and myself, who were on the ground still earnestly wrestling each other for the ball, instead of releasing it like the rules require. My team won that day, despite the failure of both sides in scoring (that would take actual skill which we had not yet acquired!) but she awarded me a point for a low tackle I made on a hefty student. Yes, I remember that fondly!

She taught us the basics and refereed our games. It opened up a truly wonderful world to all of us which left an indelible mark. The next year, when were in secondary four, she organised inter-class games which reached high standards after all that coaching. She said she was impressed with our performance and said the final nearly reached the inter-school tournament (Police Cup) standards. We were giddy with pride and the winners from the combined side of 4 Sci I and 4 Sci II received a bag of hastily-made keychains, which my buddy Yew Chee Chien went up to collect during the end of year assembly.

It bore the school logo and that was very precious to us.

She urged the highest standards of ethics and behaviour on and off the field. Once, when driving out of school for a meeting, she noticed my classmates Stuart Soh and Benjamin Yap leaving school – they were playing hookey to go play badminton, I recall. They had informed me and I had updated the attendance on the blackboard to reflect their absence, as I was class monitor and responsible for this.

That day, Mrs Krempl appeared at our class door to demand, “Where is Benjamin and Stuart?!” Feigning ignorance, I pointed to blackboard which now indicated they were absent that day. Unimpressed, she left me standing and directed her gaze from the door to question other boys, including class chairman, Kwek Beng Siong, down the line to the prefects, to the last of the lot, the school Vice-Captain Jonathan Wong. The large number of us stood mutely and fairly shaken as we were keeping the truth from her. I remember her flashing eyes, honed after years of teaching boys at St. Andrew’s.

Later, to our surprise, our expatriate form teacher, and her good friend, Stuart MacPherson, shook his head at Stuart and Benjamin and said they should not have gotten caught!

By Sec 4, I realise she was nudging us towards talking to her like regular folk. It was nice to realise she was transitioning us towards accepting friendship with one our demi-gods. I asked her aspects of the school history then, and talked about rugby. She asked about me and my family and was glad I went to the junior college and continued playing. Years later, my cousin chatted with her on a plane journey to Sri Lanka once, eventually discovering I was their common link. I had trouble grappling with the image of my cousin casually chatting with her then!

When I was a wee lad of six years, I got a place in some academically well-regarded school, apparently not an easy thing even in those days. My mum, however, decided determinedly against this and ensured I was enrolled in St. Andrew’s. She wanted me to go to a place with soul, and knew it would be a rock on which I would stand on for rest of my life. St. Andrew’s was indeed such a place, filled not with overt messages or exhortations, but with teachers like Mrs Priscilla Krempl who would love us and become part of our lives, forever.

RIP Mrs Krempl.

We’ll keep the flame burning brightly ever.

The wake is at St Joseph’s Church, 143 Victoria Street, Singapore 188020 with nightly services at 8pm. The funeral is at Church of the Ascencion, 13 Francis Thomas Drive Singapore 359339 @ St. Andrew’s campus, Sun 04 Dec 2011: 2.00pm, thereafter to Mandai Crematorium at 3.45pm at Hall 3 – from Mr Yee Teck Peng via SaintsDYK

See Shamir Serajudeen Muhammad’s heartfelt blog post, “Mrs Priscilla Krempl… from me, on behalf of us AEDs.” [pdf]

Thanks to Christine Tan for alerting me today about my teacher. She said via facebook, “Your rugby coach, Ms Krempl passed away.” How apt, and this is how I remember her, on the pitch with a whistle, urging us on.

Ex-St Andrew’s principal dies at 66
Former school head studied and taught in school as well
The Straits Times, 03 Dec 2011


Mrs Krempl was perhaps best known as Singapore’s first qualified woman rugby referee and also coached national title-winning rugby teams. — ST FILE PHOTO

FORMER students and colleagues turned up yesterday at St Joseph’s Church in Victoria Street to pay their last respects to Mrs Priscilla Krempl, former principal of St Andrew’s Secondary School who had a long association with the school.

She died on Thursday at age 66, after being diagnosed with lung cancer a month ago, and later suffering a stroke.

The former St Andrew’s student became a geography teacher there in 1968 after graduating from the then University of Singapore. She became the school’s principal in 1996 but left in 2002 to head Bedok Town Secondary.

She retired in 2007, but until October, had taught part-time at the National Institute of Education (NIE), where she trained allied educators. Perhaps best known as Singapore’s first qualified woman rugby referee, Mrs Krempl coached St Andrew’s national title-winning rugby teams during the 1970s and 1980s.

Mrs Krempl was born in Malaysia to an Indian father and a Chinese mother, who have both died. The divorcee had no children. Her younger brother, a retiree in his early 60s, is her only surviving next of kin.

Close friend Lau Mui Lee, 73, said Mrs Krempl was a cheerful and energetic woman.

Mr Shamir Muhammad, 27, was her student at St Andrew’s in the 1990s and at NIE just two months ago. He said he got into serious disciplinary trouble in Secondary 3 because he was affected by family issues. Mrs Krempl counselled him for over a year and he completed his O levels and went on to a polytechnic.

At NIE, he said she was easily the most engaging teacher he had, as she often shared interesting anecdotes from her experience as a teacher and principal.

‘She was authoritative but not authoritarian. She’s part of the reason why I identify myself so closely with the school,’ he said. He is now an allied educator at St Andrew’s.

Mrs Krempl’s funeral will be held tomorrow.


Lin Zhaowei who write the article above for The Straits Times, blogged about Mrs Krempl further, read “The rugby-loving principal who changed lives” (ST Blogs, 03 Dec 2011) [pdf].

“Judging from the many stories shared by people who knew her, Mrs Krempl seemed to lived by her motto of “Do the right thing, and do it excellently”. It was a line she used to tell her St Andrew’s students whenever she addressed them, and something she still told her students at NIE.”


One thought on “Mrs Priscilla Krempl, RIP. Thanks for being part of my St. Andrew’s heritage.

  1. Thanks for everything Mrs K

    You have inspired us to be better persons, and you will always be remembered as our mentor and friend.

    From another of her “rugby boys” from the SAS rugby team of 1984

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