George Purdy, pictured with his grandson Joe in 1993
Retired Sheppey firefighter George John Purdy has died at the age of 82.
He was admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital in December 2013 suffering a stroke, and died on January 18.
He had Parkinson’s disease in the last years of his life which inhibited a full recovery, but he remained razor sharp in memory.
An avid reader of the Times Guardian, his was often the first correct entry for our weekly history quiz.
If the answers were not in his own reference books he spent hours searching in the library.
While in hospital his wife asked the questions and noted his replies to ensure continuity and that the entry arrived at the office on time. His final correct answer is on page 13 this week.
He was a methodical man and a stickler for accuracy – a trait which served him well during 28 years’ service with Kent Fire Brigade.
When he retired in 1986 with the rank of acting station officer he toured schools, clubs and meeting places advising on fire safety.
Mr Purdy was essentially a home loving family man who turned down promotion rather than move from the town.
His longest period away was when he and late sisters Peggy and Violet were evacuated to South Wales during the war.
On his return he was a pupil at Sheerness Technical School for Boys.
For 40 years he lived in Maple Street in the house where he was born. The first 15 years of marriage were also spent there before moving to St Helen’s Road – his home for 42 years.
When called up for National Service opted to become a steward in the Royal Navy. His extended reserve service was spent at HMS Pembroke’s shore base at Chatham and with HMS Berryhead.
He worked for a while with Sittingbourne and Milton Urban District Council before joining the fire service.
When he retired aged 55, he and wife Sheila enjoyed coach trip holidays, which continued when he went on to work for the firm of Sevier’s solicitors and later with Olau Line.
He was also a collector for the Rotary Club and the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
Mr Purdy was a familiar figure in the town and on the Esplanade where he walked daily and was regarded as a fount of all knowledge regarding shipping movements and tides.
He was also responsible for re-christening The Ship at Queenborough Corner.
His suggestion for it to be called The Lady Hamilton (now The Aviator) was selected from a competition open to all Islanders.
He leaves Sheila, his wife of 57 years, son Gary, daughter Sharon and grandchildren Joe and Laura.