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27/04/32 – 15/01/17It is a great privilege for me to stand before you now and reflect on the life of my father, John Capstack.
Everyone will have their own memories of dad- whether as a colleague, friend, grandfather, father or husband- and I want to spend a few minutes remembering not just his life but also those things which defined his character and made him such a special part of our lives.
Dad was born on 27th April 1932, in Burton upon Trent to Robert and Annie Capstack. Robert, my grandfather, had moved from Lancashire to take up the position of factory manager at Eatoughs, the shoe manufacturer. I mention this because we are all, to some extent, reflections of our parents, and the spirit that drove Robert to seek new opportunities and strive for the best for his family was also a defining characteristic of dad.
Dad was an only child and expectations were high. At school dad proved to be a fine scholar: diligent and hardworking, he seized the opportunities that Burton Grammar School offered him and made the most of them. He excelled in all areas- maths, science, art and literature. This was recognised when, in 1947, dad was presented with the mayor’s prize for best school report by the mayor of Burton.
Dad’s love of mathematics, science and poetry stayed with him for the rest of his live, however on leaving school dad went to work at Eatoughs in the design department- for which his artistic and creative skills would stand him in good stead.
Before long, dad, like the majority of his generation, was called up for National Service, eventually completing two years in the RAF. Again, dad embraced this opportunity.
Dad spent his time at Clee Hill, near Ludlow, as a radar operator. His grandchildren could have been forgiven for thinking that, during this time, dad was an ace spitfire pilot- an assumption he did little to encourage, and even less to correct. Here he met and made friends with people from a wide range of backgrounds, and it was whilst serving here that dad discovered his love of opera, which stayed with him for the rest of his life.
The end of National Service meant a return to Burton and to Eatoughs. It also led to dad meeting my mum and a whole new chapter of his life.
Mum tells of how dad would wait outside Darley’s bookshop (where she worked) in an attempt to ask her out- and how she exited by a different door to avoid him! Showing the sort of tenacity for which he was renowned, dad contrived to meet mum by following her on to the bus when she was returning from the cinema one evening and asked if he could escort her home. Romance followed.
They married on 5th April 1958 (probably for tax reasons, knowing dad), settling in a flat in Burton whilst their new house, 123 Forrest Road, Shobnall, was being built. On moving in they were joined by Alison in 1961, then me and then Val.
In 1968 dad moved to work in the Earl Shilton factory and we all moved to Desford where Lindsey was born. I remember the first time we went to view 10 Cottage Lane- and we all loved it. Dad loved the house and the garden and the opportunities it afforded. The house and garden were to become his passion for the rest of his life.
Looking back I am struck by the heroic scale of some of the home improvements that dad undertook. He seemed to make it a point of honour that he would not have the right tools for the job.
I once remember him demolishing part of a chimney breast equipped only with a sledgehammer head, attached to an old coffee table leg, and a broken cold chisel in order to make a hole for a book case. On another occasion I remember the pervading sense of tension as dad papered the sitting room ceiling with only two croquet mallets to aid him. There was nothing dad could not turn his hand to. He built furniture, demolished outbuildings, built tree and Wendy houses, papered walls and remodelled the garden- every task being carried out with meticulous care and to superb effect.
This can do attitude also meant that he could not abide his children sitting around doing nothing. Many was the time that we would be sitting watching TV when there would be a terse rap on the window followed by dad entreating us to get up and do something productive.
Dad not only believed in an active body but also an active mind. Talking to my sisters’ one of the things that stood out about dad was that he was always encouraging us to challenge our own opinions. Dad was not much of a small talker but he was an excellent debater and loved serious discussion. Many times, at the dinner table, one of us would voice an opinion that dad would proceed to forensically analyse- challenging us to support our often callow opinion by ruthlessly playing devil’s advocate. He nearly always won and- though maddening at the time-it had lasting effects on all of us.
As we grew up dad continued to dedicate himself to his work. Eatoughs was a big part of his life- and ours. He travelled extensively- and the names Milan, Florence, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf were not strange to us. He also travelled to New York on two occasions. When he came home he would invariably bring us some reminder of his travels.
Dad devoted 40 years of his life to Eatoughs and, when this eventually came to an end, he sought new challenges. He had the opportunity to work in India. He loved this experience- though I think he was shocked by some of the conditions he encountered- and it gave him the opportunity to travel and visit some wonderful sites.
When retirement finally came dad still did not rest and he threw himself into the house and garden with even more vigour. He also worked on various artistic projects that interested him. One of these was Celtic art. As a child dad had been excellent at fretwork and Celtic knot work may have appealed to him for this reason. In any event, he produced beautiful work, casting some of it into garden ornaments. The garden, of course was his major passion and he loved opening his garden up to the public on open garden days- his efforts being rewarded by universal praise.
Dad was a wonderful provider and always wanted the best for his family. He loved his family deeply and would always support us. He was also proud of us- something he told us more and more in later life. Looking back, having four children when you yourself were an only child must have proved quite a challenge- noisy family holidays must have tested him to the limit (although we were always complimented on our impeccable behaviour when out in public!).
Once we were all married and had children of our own dad had to get used to even more noise, as he was blessed with ten Grandchildren. He loved all his grandchildren dearly- and if it was a bit of an ordeal when we all turned up on his doorstep he had the good taste to disguise it as best he could.
Grandchildren gave a new lease to dad’s creativity: he built a huge Christmas cracker from which he would distribute presents and he put his artistic talents to use designing beautiful sets for school nativity plays.
Over the last few years frailty began to set in- but he was able to remain relatively active until recently. Sadly for such a wonderfully intelligent and creative man, that last year or so saw a gradual decline in his mental faculties- although he never lost them entirely. Dad had a wicked sense of humour- he wasn’t a joke teller, but he was very witty. This could be seen even in the last few days when he would tease his carers. He was still able to recognise us all right up to his last few hours- and he died as he would have wished: in his own home and surrounded by those he loved.
I have spoken of dad’s wit, intellect, drive, integrity, sense of duty and love of family. One word that I have not used yet is “Gentleman”.
When I started thinking about this eulogy I wanted to avoid trite phrases. Every male funeral I have ever attended usually refers at some point to the fact that the deceased was “a real gentleman”. This was usually evidenced by the fact that the said gentleman always wore a tie and was polite in the presence of women! The word “gentleman” somehow seemed to me to be a lazy shorthand to sum up my father. However it is also the word that, since his passing, I have heard used more than any other- it just kept cropping up.
So I now make no apologies for saying of dad: “he was a true gentleman”. Yes, he was cultured, intelligent, witty and talented but he was also kind, generous, honourable, supportive and driven to do the best for his family. He was a loving husband and proud father and grandfather.
For that, dad we thank you and we are all grateful. Your work is done. God bless.
Janet and the Family would like to thank everyone who attended John’s Funeral Service on Thursday 26th January and for the beautiful cards, messages and prayers received in our sad loss.
John would have been amazed and not a little embarrassed to know he was so well regarded.
We miss him. Thank you all so much.
Kathleen Mary Taylor of St. Martin's Drive,
Desford, died on January 17th, aged 101. She was born in the Blue Bell, Desford on Monday September 26th, 1915; one of six children of Walter and Laura Starbuck. She was educated in the local school in Main Street, where, much later, she would serve as School Clerk. She married her late husband Bill in 1936 and moved to Enfield, London, from where they returned to Desford, to live in a cottage behind the pub (since demolished) when their London home was bombed. They had two sons, Stuart, and Malcolm who pre-deceased her. There are four grandchildren, seven great grand-children and two great great grandchildren.
Twenty years ago, she set down her memories of her childhood and upbringing in the village, entitled "A Desford Childhood-A Publican's daughter remembers the twenties". Sadly, this slim volume, co-authored with Mrs Caroline Wessel and with a forward by the late Mrs Betty Dickson, is currently out of print. Her memory was keen and full, describing simple pleasures and pastimes and the great influence of her Christian and public-spirited parents. She was taken into the church at the age of three (when her father returned from W.W.1) and was still attending into her eighties, riding on her bicycle. Thereafter, she received the Sacrament at home; remaining a generous giver, which included a Home Communion Set for the benefit of those who, like her, could not get out much.
Her memories of the village, its houses, topography, personalities and shops were committed to tape as an oral history.
Her memoir includes a detailed description of the Blue Bell; how its composition and interior reflected the make-up of village society, from "those whose behaviour was quite rough; who would swear, drink strong beer and spit into spittoons; who would smoke a coarse old twist tobacco. Many of the miners with bad chests, would cough incessantly". At the other end was "the Snug...a small and select room, where a man could bring his wife for a smart evening out". She has left a treasure trove of photographs.
Mrs. Taylor was much-travelled. She had been to the Kremlin, to the White House, down the Hudson River, to Venice and to Athens. She met Senator Barry Goldwater and danced with Cliff Richard.
Her family was close and family gatherings with Nana K very important. Her centenary was marked in the Blue Bell, but she was beginning to fail physically. Her sight had been poor for years and she once gave the Rector a cup of coffee, made of gravy granules! Her death was peaceful. Her funeral was held at Nuneaton Crematorium on Friday February 3rd. The sixty attendees included those from Dubai, the Isle of Man and the north of England. The cortege set off from the Blue Bell and family and friends returned to the Blue Bell for the reception. She had outlived all her contemporaries but the memory of her life and of the village is not lost, because of who she was and what she recorded.
It now remains to be seen whether, with funding and some imagination, her legacy can be presented in written/visual form, with commentary, to a wider audience.
Jean Liddington of Main Street, Peckleton,
died on New Year's Day, aged 90. She came to the village in infancy and had lived there ever since. She attended the Village School (now the Village Hall) and completed her education at South Charnwood School. She was married to Walter, who pre-deceased her twenty years ago. Jean joined the Peckleton P.C.C. at the age of 17 and served as Churchwarden for over 50 years. A wide network of friends and contacts reflected her many interests including Mothers' Union, W.I. , Endeavour Club, Scrabble, home Bible Study and Deanery Synod. She was a faithful worshipper and tireless worker for Peckleton Church. She had faced ill health and personal loss. As increasing immobility restricted her, she made good use of her pen and telephone, to complete repairs, building projects and improvements. She had a sense of humour, loved company and was rarely short of things to say or comments to make. Her mind was keen until the end. Her funeral was held in the church on Friday January 27th, followed by a committal at Nuneaton Crematorium and a Reception in the Village Hall. Former Rector David Senior paid tribute to her friendship and vision for the local church. Jean is survived by her daughter Dawn.
ROBERT (BOB) GREEN 13th December 2016
These words were shared by his daughter at the funeral
Bob was a kind, caring, honest and gentle husband, Dad, Grandad, Brother, Cousin and Friend.
Jackie and I are both extremely proud to have called him our Dad and we both loved him very much.
Bob had many joys, hobbies and loves in his life, which I am sure many of you have your own memories of, he loved, The great outdoors, His garden and lawns, Woodworking , Shooting, His Super rocket motorbike , Wales
His cats, Minnie Twinkle and Billy,His family.
However the greatest and most precious love of his life was my mum for whom he loved and was totally devoted to.
God looked around his garden
And He found an empty place.
And then He looked down upon the earth,
And saw your tired face.
He put His arms around you,
And lifted you to rest.
God's garden must be beautiful,
He always takes the best.
It broke our hearts to lose you.
But you didn't go alone,
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.
Holy Baptism 2017
WILLIAM EDWARD HAYLETT 30th December 2016
We look forward to welcoming William into the family of the Church at one of family services
We offer our condolences to all who grieve or who have faced the anniversaries of losses