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Teacher played major role in community

PUBLISHED: 16:30 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 July 2010

TEACHING STALWART: Victor Alfred Stowers has died at the age of 81

TEACHING STALWART: Victor Alfred Stowers has died at the age of 81

VICTOR Alfred Stowers, the former Grammar School and Sixth Form College teacher, died at home on December 28, aged 81.

Many of his friends and former pupils from across the country joined his widow and family at the funeral service at Gorleston Crematorium on January 10.

VICTOR Alfred Stowers, the former Grammar School and Sixth Form College teacher, died at home on December 28, aged 81.

Many of his friends and former pupils from across the country joined his widow and family at the funeral service at Gorleston Crematorium on January 10.

Victor had spent all his working life in education in Great Yarmouth at the Grammar School and at the Sixth Form College with the exception of a single year exchange in 1966/67 in the United States.

His father, Bill Stowers, was an engine driver who moved to Yarmouth from Norwich in 1926, the year of the General Strike. He and his wife pushed a pram from Norwich so as not to cross a picket line, and older readers will remember him as an active Labour councillor in the 1960s.

The young Victor went to Yarmouth Grammar School and was evacuated with the school to Retford. Among his friends was Yarmouth boy Kenneth McMillan, who later became the famous, dancer, choreographer and was knighted for services to ballet. In, less enlightened times Victor was sworn to secrecy that his friend wished to become a ballet dancer. He kept in touch with McMillan until his death in 1972.

Like many evacuees, Victor made friendships with Retford people which were maintained over many years. It was in the evacuated school that his interest in tennis, classical music and walking and cycling in the hills was kindled.

While at school he became Second Boy, a School Prefect, House Captain of North and won school colours for both cricket and football. The School Chronicle of 1943-44 records the football team scored a number of good goals “many of these due to the dash and skilful dribbling of Stowers.”

He returned to Yarmouth in September 1944, winning both a school English prize, serving as a school librarian, taking part in a Gilbert and Sullivan performance and writing an appreciation of the school's evacuation time at Retford for the Chronicle.

His National Service was spent

in the Royal Marines after the

second world war.

After National Service he attended Nottingham University, where he gained a degree in English and French. Among his interests were theatre and cinema and he watched many of the classic English language and foreign films.

When in Yarmouth he was on the Committee on the Great Yarmouth Film Society which showed many Art House films at the former College of Art from the 1950s to the 1970s. His cinema interest was wide and his impish sense of humour meant he also appreciated the Carry On films. He and his wife Janice also maintained their interest in theatre and were regular supporters of the Masquers theatre productions in both Yarmouth and in Gorleston.

He joined the staff of the Yarmouth Grammar in 1959 was appointed head of the English department. Victor's teaching colleagues from that time recall lunchtime walks around the Waterways which he and a colleague established. In 1982, when the school was reorganised to become a comprehensive, he transferred to East Norfolk Sixth Form College.

He was for many years a member of the Great Yarmouth Archaeological Society and wrote a number of articles for its annual publication Yarmouth Archaeology on topics such as The Witches of Salem from Great Yarmouth and Thomas Nashe Elizabethan Yarmouth's Uninvited Guest.

Victor was a keen tennis player and a long-standing member of Gorleston Tennis Club, playing regularly until a couple of years ago. He had travelled widely in Europe and was particularly fond of Italy but had also journeyed in India and North America. Locally, on foot or by car, he and Janice had visited almost every parish between King's Lynn and Bury St Edmunds and were particularly fond of church architecture and history.

He also had a phenomenal memory for faces and was able to recognise former pupils many years after they had left school and remained on good terms with his former pupils from the Grammar School, seeing many of them when he regularly attended the Old Yarmouthians annual dinner. He was a great writer of letters and local articles, setting out his views and impressions on all topics in a small neat hand.

Victor Stowers represented an ideal type of schoolteacher who was a permanent fixture of school life over many years and had made a great contribution to the life of his home town. He leaves a wife Janice, two children Michael and Helen, and two grandchildren, Joseph and Findlay.

One of his favourite lines when teaching a variety of topics was: “I know what I think, but what do you think?” His friendship will be missed by colleagues, former students and a wide cross section of the community who shared his many interests.

Michael Boon and Andrew Fakes

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