‘True Banburian’ and well-respected funeral director John Humphris has died at the age of 82.
Mr Humphris, who was born in 1932, joined Humphris and Sons in 1948 when it was run by his father, Harold, after attending Madgalen College School in Brackley. His mother died when he was only eight years old.
He served as an apprentice carpenter and joiner and became the first qualified modern embalmer in Oxfordshire.
He contracted tuberculosis seven years later, which forced him to take 12 months off work. His brother, Maurice, was released as a student from accountants Thornton and Thornton so he could join the business to help out.
After Mr Humphris recovered, Maurice was asked to stay on.
Mr Humphris took over the running of the business – which included a funeral directors, a building department and a property management company – after his father died in 1966.
His son Christopher joined the firm, now known as J&M Humphris, in 1985 while his nephew Martin joined in 1981.
Speaking to the Banbury Guardian, Christopher Humphris paid tribute to his father. He said: “He was a true Banburian. He only left Banbury for a brief spell to do National Service, but was discharged after cutting off his little finger in an accident with a circular saw.
“He was very skilled with his hands, a very practical man. He liked to keep fit – he swam daily. He also built two of his own homes. He was very much work and family orientated.
“It was a privilege to work with him in the business and to continue in his footsteps. I am grateful for everything he has taught me.” He added his father was also part of an international emergency team which saw him helping out in disaster areas such as the Lockerbie bombing, the rail disaster in County Cork in 1980 and the ferry disaster in the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
Mr Humphris had also been president of the chamber of commerce and was a life-long supporter of Marlborough Road Methodist Church, serving as its senior property steward during its refurbishment in 1974.
He married his wife, Dorothy, in 1954, at the church. The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last summer.
He died in Lark Rise Care Home last week, at the age of 82.
A service of thanksgiving was held at Marlborough Road Methodist Church on Wednesday.
Donations in his memory can be sent to Alzheimer’s Research.
John is survived by his wife Dorothy, children Christopher, Joanna and Katharine, and six grandchildren.
The firm was founded in 1880 by Mr Humphris’ grandfather, Joseph.
It was run from his front room at 74 Broughton Road, which is now named Founder’s House.
J&M Humphris is now based on Albert Street.