The death of William Redwood

I am grateful to those who came to my father’s funeral on Monday 8th February.
For those who wrote to me saying they could not make it but would like to remember him, I reproduce below my tribute to him at the service.

William Redwood was rooted in decency, buttressed by honesty. His gentle sense of humour and readiness to talk to people brought him many friends and acquaintances. His marriage to Amy ran as the golden thread through his adult years, bringing him both deep friendship and romance.

We meet today to celebrate his long and often happy life.He would be pleased to see you all here, and in his modest way pleasantly surprised.

He was born in 1925 in Ramsgate, an only child. As a young teenager his father’s illness and inability to work touched the small family with financial hardship. His education was disrupted by the outbreak of war, making him an evacuee to Stafford. There poor educational provision for the new arrivals persuaded him to leave school at the first opportunity, a decision reinforced by his generous wish to offer some financial help to his struggling parents. As soon as he could he volunteered for the Royal Navy, joining the crew of HMS Royalist, a cruiser. He saw action in the North Sea, off Naples supporting the Allied landings in Italy, and around the war torn islands of the Mediterranean. Sent home with ill health himself, he met Amy who was a Petty Officer in the Wrens at Portsmouth.

Married life started in a flat in Deal, followed by a move to Canterbury where he lived for much of his life. He made a crucial choice to work for East Kent Packers as their Chief Accountant and later as their Company Secretary. This enabled him to buy a home for his own small family of three. He enjoyed the rising prosperity of 60s and 70 s England, as fitted carpets, central heating, kitchen machines, a telephone and car arrived and became a normal part of his life.

His work with fruit suited him as he was a keen gardener. One of the features of Christmas was the arrival of special large comice pears which he reserved in the summer and got the experts at work to keep in a temperature controlled gas store so they would be mouth wateringly ripe on December 25th.

He weathered the shock of change when his long career there ended prematurely following a takeover. He spent his last working years happily assisting the Bursar of the Kings School Canterbury, where he enjoyed joining in the rhythms and events of a culturally active school.

Ever keen to retire, retirement lived up to billing for him. He revelled in a series of great cruises and holidays which took them to China and the USA, to Norway and down the Rhine.

In his later years he took an interest in modern English history and Politics. When his son stood for the leadership of the Conservative party he found his garden overwhelmed by journalists wishing to talk to him. In his methodical and friendly way he organised them into an orderly queue and gave each one time to answer their questions. He rifled through his carefully tended files to find relevant documents of recent family history for their delectation.

In his late years he and Amy moved to be nearer to their son, and settled in well and quickly with friends and contacts of John and new ones of their own.

Today we should say thank you for knowing William, and for the many acts of kindness and friendship he undertook. We should be happy that he achieved many of the aims he held. He would often say he had been lucky in his life and in his choice of wife. We should be glad that he was able to spend so many days with Amy in a remarkable partnership that meant they never spent a day apart, unless illness divided them as it has again today.

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5 Comments

  1. Pauline Jorgensen
    Posted February 15, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    John
    Thank you for posting that, it gave me an insight into your Dad i didn’t know and would have loved to talk to him about. From the times I met him he was a kind, quiet but interesting character. I am very sorry he he no longer with us. We all looked up to that generation who went through and achieved so much despite the hardships, I know I did to my Dad. All the best to your mum who must be finding it very hard.
    Pauline

  2. M Davis
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    A lovely eulogy for your Father, JR and thank you for sharing some of your family history – very nice.

  3. lojolondon
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear this news, John, my thoughts are with you and your family –

  4. alan jutson
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Always a difficult time when Parents pass, and a time for reflection on how they influenced your own life and that of your family.

    Gone but never forgotten.

  5. a-tracy
    Posted February 20, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Sorry to read of your fathers passing, I hope that one of my children would write such a respectful, thoughtful eulogy. He sounds like a wonderful man, you were all blessed to be part of each other’s lives.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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