Former magistrate and councillor Les Tustian dies, aged 89

A former north Oxfordshire councillor, magistrate and keen cricketer, Les Tustian, has died in a Banbury nursing home aged 90.

Les and Margaret Tustian, pictured at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 2013
Les and Margaret Tustian, pictured at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 2013

Mr Tustian, who lived in Cropredy, was a councillor with both Banbury Borough and Cherwell District Councils over several decades. He was Mayor of Banbury in 1968 and was leader of Cherwell District Council from 1974 to the mid 1980s.

He was a Magistrate for many years and for three years was Chairman of the Banbury bench. He joined the north Oxfordshire courts system in 1970 and remained a magistrate until his retirement aged 70.

Mr Tustian was a keen cricketer with Banbury Town but more especially Cropredy. He served as secretary and president of the Banbury and District Cricket League until it ceased in 2002.

Les and Margaret Tustian on their wedding day. Her hand in marriage was conditional upon Les joining the Cropredy Cricket Club

Mr Tustian's brother in law, David Cherry said: "Les played in a Banbury team called the Banbury Early Closers - a reference to the team who played on Tuesday afternoons when all the shops in Banbury closed at 1pm - and he was a good player. He wanted to marry my sister and when my father learned he was a good cricketer, he said he would have to play in the village team as a condition of marrying Margaret."

The couple celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary in 2013.

Mrs Tustian was a practice nurse at Cropredy Surgery and a midwife who delivered many local babies.

Mr Tustian worked in finance, including a spell with the Banbury Guardian, when it was located in Parsons Street and in the ownership of the infamous Woodrow Wyatt. He also worked at Southam Rural District Council, Bearing and Barnes builders and Roy Trinder, funeral directors and car sales.

He was chairman of the Mill Management Committee for several years in the 1980s. Former head of centre Tony Snee described Mr Tustian as a wonderful chairman to work with and a leading light in public work.

Mr Tustian was also a very active Freemason with the Chipping Norton Lodge. He was editor of the Cropredy Crier for ten years until handing over the position to Stephen Wass a year ago.

Former Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry, now High Steward of Banbury, paid tribute to Mr Tustian's courteous and respectful manner. He said: "He represented Cropredy on the district council for some 20 years. As the first leader of the Cherwell District Council, that amalgamated Bicester and Ploughley and Kidlington rural district councils with Banbury Borough Council, he brought those communities together - all with their different histories.

"Les showed very good, quiet and sensible leadership and earned great respect for the way he got things done. He was a shrewd, sensible leader, courteous and respectful."

Mr Tustian passed away very peacefully at Highmarket House care home in Banbury at the weekend.

The funeral details have yet to be confirmed but it will be held at Cropredy Methodist Church of which Mr and Mrs Tustian had been committed members.

Son Nick said: "We’re intending it to be a celebration of his life and all friends and family will be very welcome to attend. Humphris and Sons are the funeral directors and details will be published as soon as they are available."