30 of us, appropriately socially distanced and wearing masks (and 22 on zoom) came together on Wednesday 23rd September to say goodbye to long term resident of Itchen Abbas Jim Glasspool. The zoom recording of the service follows. Unfortunately some of the tribute was missed in the broadcast but the whole tribute is below.
The processional music was Birds of Aristophanes by Parry and the recessional music was Music of the Master Singers by Wagner.
We hummed or lip-synched Praise my Soul the King of Heaven and Lord of All Hopefulness. Lucy Glasspool read the poem ‘I thank thee God’ and David Glasspool read ‘The Fisherman’s prayer’. Sam, Seamus and Tara Smith sang and accompanied ‘Shenandoah’ and Andrew Glasspool gave the following eulogy:
Thank you for being here with us to celebrate Jim’s life. It’s sad that Covid-19 restrictions means that more people can’t be here in person but we know many are thinking of us and I would also like to welcome those joining on Zoom.
The whole family is grateful for the many kind letters and tributes to Jim. They have been an enormous comfort to us and a reminder of Jim’s diverse achievements and talents, many of which he habitually played down as he was a modest and private man but with a capacity to surprise.
I will start by celebrating the most important feature in Jim’s life; his marriage to Sue. She was his mainstay throughout their 61-year marriage that began back in April 1959.
Sue and Jim met in London. Jim, returning from a Squash match with his friend Ronnie Weeks, stopped at Sue’s flat for Ronnie to enquire when that night’s party started. “Now” was the answer, and so Jim was invited into Sue’s basement flat still in his squash kit. There in front of him the vision of a beautiful woman wearing a lab coat over a cocktail dress, smashing up a block of ice with an axe. He was smitten from the beginning. The chemistry between the biochemist and the chemist was instantaneous and unbreakable and so began a relationship that took them all over the world and was soon to start the large and wonderful family gathered here today.
Jim and Sue were married aged 25 and 23 in St Luke’s church Chelsea. Michael, his younger brother, was one of the ushers and Pamela, Sue’s youngest sister, a bridesmaid and some of the music we have today is just a little reminder of their wedding.
Born in 1933, Jim was only 6 at the outbreak of WW II but he didn’t escape the horrors of war: in 1942 having his tonsils out in Bristol, bombs fell on the hospital: a terrifying experience. Thinking a move away from Bristol would be safer, Jim’s parents transferred the family to Bath. This move saved their lives as their house in Bristol was soon completely destroyed. However, a little while later they were caught up in the firestorm of the Baedeker raids. In one night, 417 people were killed in Bath and over 19,000 buildings affected, but in the Glasspool’s kitchen the old wooden dresser held up the wall and ceiling saving the lives of the family sheltering under the kitchen table. The grandfather clock started to chime in amongst the devastation and my great grandmother famously said, “well at least the dining room is still standing”. It was very special to see Jim telling James, his great grandson, the same stories earlier this year, so that these memories may be carried into the 22nd century. We all enjoyed the stories safe in the knowledge that Jim and his family had survived but we can only imagine how terrifying it was for a small boy and what a profound effect it had on him.
After the war, Jim was educated at Clifton College and from there he won a scholarship to The Queen’s College, Oxford to read Chemistry. But before going up to Oxford he did national service as a pilot officer in the RAF. I have early memories of him describing practice dog fights with fellow pilots, but again, he hardly mentioned these skills. In the same modest vein, he once shocked me by breaking into fluent German on holiday, a skill he gained after studying in Heidelberg during one of his long vacations.
While at Queen’s he was made responsible for the Hungarian refugee students who had arrived after the communist repression in Eastern Europe. His role was to find them all bicycles and strangely a knitting machine for one of the female undergraduates. More challenging perhaps, he was given the task of limiting any behaviour that might get them in to trouble with the university authorities.
After graduating he joined Shell Chemicals where he worked until he retired, completing a long and distinguished career that took him and the family to many different countries. He made several lasting friendships at Shell, and we are deeply touched that Ed Vogelsang one of his oldest friends and colleagues, is here with us today, together with Clarence Eng.
After their marriage in 1959, life for them was soon to change as I had clearly spotted a good thing and decided to join them as soon as possible, in January 1960. David didn’t delay his appearance either and arrived 15 months later while we were living in Birmingham.
Our family soon moved to Kingston and those years in the 1960s held memories of long summer holidays in Cornwall and walks in Richmond Park.
During the Kingston years, Jim’s interest in local politics saw him becoming a Councilor, which involved a great deal of pavement pounding and canvassing residents, a task in which David and I were expected to participate.
Rosalind was born in 1968 and our family moved to Sweden with Shell where Sue and Jim enjoyed becoming part of Stockholm’s community. Here we met Rosanna,… or “Posy” to us, who become a lifelong friend of the family together with her brother John. Posy travelled back and forth to school on the plane with me and David. It means a great deal to us, and especially to Sue, that she is here today leading some of the prayers. In Sweden, Jim’s love of fishing really developed and we soon realised that summer holidays from then on were always going to involve fishing, if not fish. On return from Sweden Jim and Sue moved to Itchen Abbas, where they could be seen on their daily walk to the river with their slightly unruly Labradors that provided great comfort to both of them for over 45 years.
In moving to Winchester, Jim was perhaps fulfilling a homing instinct. His father’s family had originally farmed for generations in Owlsebury. He often spoke fondly of his time at the farm and taking the pony and trap into Winchester market. Glasspool is very much a Hampshire name. I know he was honoured each time he was asked to read out the names of those who sadly lost their lives in both world wars at Remembrance services in Ashe church.
The family’s move to Canada (again with Shell) from 1976-1979 gave Jim and the family new rivers and landscapes to explore but we were all happy to return to Hampshire and the beautiful Itchen Valley at the end of this posting.
While not one for displays of affection or emotion, Jim took great joy in his growing family of three children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Immensely proud of his offspring he cherished them all in his own quiet but deeply felt way.
He took great interest in everyone’s development and achievements, advising on school subjects (preferably Chemistry!) and careers. Jim was a feminist before it was fashionable, always telling Ros as a tiny girl that she should be the first women prime minister. She was furious when Margaret Thatcher beat her to that accolade.
He encouraged all his children and grandchildren to pursue their education and careers equally. He also threw himself enthusiastically into supporting Sue in her political career and as Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, particularly relishing his time as the Mayor of Winchester’s escort.
He had a quiet and dry sense of humour. As children we remember Jim reading to us – not the usual nursery tales – but short stories by Saki. I particularly remember “The Storyteller”, which I imagined was set in nearby Richmond Park. It concerned a little girl, who was “horribly good”. As a result she was awarded medals for her excellent behaviour, honesty and tidyness and was allowed to walk in the park alone. Unfortunately, her clanking medals alerted the park wolf to her presence, leading to her ultimate demise. This memorable choice of story says much about Jim’s humour, the way he encouraged us to have a healthy disrespect for the ordinary and to be modest with regard to our own achievements.
This reminds me of another side to Jim…the showman. At school he was a member of the Junior Magic Circle. His conjuring skills were only revealed to us at birthday parties. His children and the older grandchildren were lucky enough to marvel at the infamous Welsh Rarebit, the fire in the top hat, the dodgy council built clock tower or the hand drawn picture of flowers that magically became real in front of everyone’s eyes. Performing for Ros and her friends entirely in Swedish for her fourth birthday party was a major achievement, revealing again his talent for languages.
Opera was also something he enjoyed throughout his life, from listening to Tristan and Isolde while Sue was in labour. with me, to some fabulous trips to the famous opera houses of Europe with their dear friends the Ungars and Backhouses: I am not sure David and I fully appreciated Gotterdammerung sung in Swedish as small boys but Clare and I really valued our trips to well-chosen operas with Jim and Sue. Keen to pass on his love of opera to his grandchildren, I will never forget Thomas, aged 2, sitting in a little chair beside Jim transfixed by a recording of Nessun Dorma. He was even more delighted when Sam was offered a part in Scottish opera’s production of Tosca.
Retirement allowed Jim to take full advantage of the crystal-clear waters of the Itchen where he set about developing his fishing skills, pitting them against some of the most elusive and discerning trout in the world.
He was a member of the Bishopstoke Fishing Club and was also invited to become the secretary of the Test and Itchen Association which gave him the perfect platform to expand his fishing interests and apply his scientific mind to the challenges faced by these two famous examples of the English chalk stream. His talents were not unnoticed and with great energy he rose up through the ranks of fishing activism, being appointed to senior committee positions on the Environment Agency dealing with national issues on everything from water quality, rare species protection, fish conservation, navigation rights and the impact of major developments on the freshwater environment.
Jim also played a critical role in forming the Angling Trust. He quickly understood that bringing together all the disparate groups of fishing clubs and associations from coarse fishing, sea angling to salmon and trout fishing would bring much greater political power to these sports. Politicians from across the spectrum soon noticed and Jim would be sought out at conferences and other events to ensure that the fishing lobby was onside. The environment agency, through Tim Sykes, has specially asked that his work there be remembered.
Jim’s colleagues on these committees have commented on how he remained cool, composed and a gentleman throughout some difficult discussions. Jim is recalled from his Shell days as a man of great intellect with formidable powers of logic. He could break down a problem into component parts and calmly find a path through any argument …but he was also a man without ego, using his skills and humour, together with his finely tuned sense of when to push things. Jim was a very hard man to say no to.
Jim was a keen supporter of the charity Second Chance, he is fondly remembered by them and I am sure Jim would be pleased to know that we have chosen Second Chance as one of the charities for the virtual collection.
With his typical reserve, Jim did not want a long eulogy….But it is hard to sum up an active life of 87 years in a few words, so I hope he will forgive me for having taken a little of your time today. Jim. A successful businessman, expert fly fisherman, squash player, pilot, effective environmental activist, chorister and magician, father to me, David and Ros, grandfather to Thomas, Harry, Jonathan, Henry, Lucy, Flora, Seamus, Tara and Sam, great grandfather to James and Katie, and beloved husband of Sue. Always polite, always kind, always dressed in his tweed jacket…. to me he will always be my father.
Thomas Glasspool read the Bible Reading Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,4 and 8
3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Revd. Alex Pease gave the following address:
We have just read in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything: a time to be born and a time to die.
We all have to die
I have been struck recently, by how, as we lie on our death beds we might reflect back on our lives…..
If Jim was able to do so he could certainly look back with great satisfaction on a wonderful and large family.. Perhaps he would remember the help he gave Hungarian refugees when he was at University; His time in Germany; His enjoyment of opera, particularly Wagner; His career at Shell; His support for Sue while she was Mayor and lots and lots of…. Fishing
But I wonder how Jim, how any of us, would look forward from that death bed to what happens next….What did he what would we…..expect?
The Christian understanding of what happens at death is that when we as Christians cross over that barrier, we won’t have a disembodied eternity: twanging a harp on a cloud. Christians believe in a physical resurrection – like that of Jesus on a new Earth ruled by Jesus, where we can eat/drink/enjoy many of tangible joys experienced during lives in the world.
I can’t promise everything that we might enjoy now but surely there would be fishing and Wagner!
What will it be like…?
CS Lewis: in the final volume of the Narnia Stories called the Final Battle imagines that new Earth as a place in which we feel that we have come home at last, free from the shackles which have enslaved us during our lives and also as a place in which we can go… further up and further in, in a place which is just more real and more beautiful than the world as we have experienced it and Aslan the Lion, the Christ figure of the books, finally speaks to the children who are the heroes and heroines, as they reach this incredible place, this new heaven and earth: “…all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ending: this is the morning.” Lewis continues: ‘..for [the children] it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before’
Revd. Rosanna Stuart Martin led us in prayer as follows:
Let us pray
We begin with a prayer by John Donne:
Bring us, O Lord, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven,
to enter into that gate and dwell in that house,
where there shall be no darkness or dazzling, but one equal light;
no noise nor silence, but one equal music;
no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession;
no ends, nor beginnings, but one equal eternity;
in the habitations of thy glory and dominion,
world without end.
Father in heaven, we praise your name for all who have finished this life loving and
trusting in you,
for the example of their lives,
the life and grace you gave them,
and the peace and love in which they now rest.
We thank you today for your servant Jim,
and for all you did through him in over fourscore years and seven.
We give thanks for his 61 years of devoted marriage to Sue, celebrating both Golden and Diamond wedding anniversaries, and for their companionship and mutual support and encouragement through all the changing scenes of life.
We give thanks for the children and their partners and for all the grandchildren and great grandchildren.
We give thanks for Jim’s long and distinguished career working for Shell in the chemical industry and for service overseas in Sweden and in Canada,
the work he did for fishing, and for his happy retirement with Sue and a succession of wonderful Labradors here in Itchen Abbas, so close to the chalk streams that he loved so much. And we think of all the joyous family celebrations that have taken place in West Haye, and the warm welcome and hospitality offered to us all.
We thank you for the example of his integrity, and the highest standards Jim set for himself and expected of others, for his intelligence and his thoughtfulness, his firmly held opinions and his dry sense of humour, his enjoyment of opera and literature,
And, of course, his love of the outdoors, be it the snow and ice of Northern climes, or the downlands and chalk streams of Hampshire which he recorded in his writing.
We give thanks for our own vivid memories of Jim, the very happy ones and the more complex and sad ones, and so today we ask God to meet us in our grief and our sadness,
to be with us in our loss, and to fill us with his hope and his love, giving us the conviction that all who have died in the love of Christ, will share in his resurrection.
We pray this in Jesus name,
We pray for those who mourn:
Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort,
deal graciously we pray with all who mourn,
We pray for Sue,
for Andrew and Clare, Thomas Harry and Jonathan,
for David and Jules, Henry, Lucy and Flora,
for Ros and Brian, Seamus Tara and Sam,
for the great grandchildren James and Katie ,
and for Jim’s brother Michael and his sister-in-law Anna,
and for all their extended family, friends and neighbours and all who will miss Jim.
Father of all mercies,
deal graciously we pray with all who mourn,
that casting all their care on you,
They may know the consolation of your love,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Perhaps at this stage we can thank God for, and ask him to bless, those who have cared so well for Jim and Sue more recently in West Haye, especially for Gill; and also the staff in Winchester hospital who looked after Jim in the last few days of his life.
Eternal God, our maker and redeemer,
grant us with Jim, and all the faithful departed,
the sure benefits of your Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrection:
that, in the last day,
when you gather up all things in Christ,
We may, with them, enjoy the fullness of your promises;
Through Jesus Christ your son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever,
Finally, a prayer by the Quaker William Penn:
We give them back to thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us.
Yet thou didst not lose them in giving,
so we have not lost them by their return.
What thou gavest thou takest not away, O Lover of souls;
for what is thine is ours also if we are thine.
And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is an horizon,
and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further;
Cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly;
and draw us closer to thyself,
that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with thee.
And while thou dost prepare for us,
prepare us also for that happy place,
that where they are and thou art,
We too may be for evermore ,