Deaths of Old Hillbrovians

John Dixon Glanville, 15.1.1922 – 22.12.2016

John Glanville was my first cousin once removed. His mother was Kathleen Glanville, nee Dixon, sister of William Scarth Dixon.

The funeral, which I attended, took place at St Nicolas’ Church, North Stoneham, of which he had been a congregant and member of the choir for many years, on Friday 6th January 2017. Until he was no longer able to get to church, he sang in the choir.  Professor Roger Thornton, a close friend, gave the following eulogy.

Eulogy by Roger Thornton

John died, peacefully, at his home, on the 22nd of December. And we are here to celebrate his life, to call upon our happy memories of him, to reflect on what he meant to each one of us and to take our leave of him.

I first met John over 50 years ago when our work at the hospital brought us together. And, of course, having met John, it was not long before I met Betty. For they were a loving couple and it was quite impossible to know one without knowing the other.

John, took a degree in medicine and worked first at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. In 1963 they moved to Southampton where they set up that lovely home, Crescent Lodge, in Bassett Crescent West.

John was an ENT consultant to the Southampton hospitals and, in my experience, unusually amongst surgeons, he was always the perfect gentleman. No shouting. No impoliteness. No loud exclamations in his operating theatre. Just the gentlemanly, polite requests for forceps or for a scalpel.

His juniors were treated to the same gentlemanly responses. A tuition when they made a mistake, an explanation when they did not understand and a mild rebuke when they had really done something wrong.

John was someone of almost infinite generosity. He was generous with his time. He was generous with what he possessed but, above all, he showed a generosity of spirit that was truly amazing. When I was ill with bronchitis and alone, I was whisked into their house to become a long-stay guest/patient.

John, ever the physiotherapist manqué, pummelled my back as I expectorated into a bowl. He was like a second father to me and I loved him.

When Jan and I were married John and Betty gave us two Edwardian sweetmeat dishes. These had been in the possession of Walter and Kathleen Glanville for 40 years and they passed them on to their younger son John and his wife Betty on their marriage. John and Betty had these dishes for 43 years before giving them to us.

These dishes now have 101 years of happy marriage to their credit and Jan and I are so grateful to John and Betty for their love and trust in us to continue the tradition.

The more I knew John, the more joy there was in our friendship. I have the most vivid memory of him at the holiday cottage that we went to in North Devon, at spring tides, – where, he was smiling happily as he returned with a large catch of prawns.

We collected driftwood and had to saw it into manageable pieces for the fire in the cottage. I remember John saying, “You study hard, you graduate, continue your training, get your Fellowship, become a consultant and then want happens? You end up sawing logs in the back garden”.

I remember the shared mirth over some devastating rum sours at a barbecue in their garden. I remember him laughing as he played with his grandchildren. I suspect that, for nearly all of us, our memories of John are similarly joyful.

A grateful patient would give John a brace of pheasants at Christmas each year. Betty was not too enamoured of having this extra work arrive on Christmas Eve, so John hung them in the garage, putting off the moment when he would have to pluck and deal with them. This lead to cat’s paw prints on the car and up the wall, very nearly managing to reach the pheasants.

He loved his fly fishing, classical music, his wine, the theatre, his friends but, above all his family.

When he retired they moved to Woodside, in the Crescent at Romsey. There Betty became ill and died in 1996. John was inconsolable and mourned Betty very much.

Happily he continued his attendance here at St. Nicolas church where he was a chorister and was greatly respected. He treated the choir to a wonderful meal at la Parisienne in Romsey for no apparent reason other than he loved us.

Love has featured a lot in John’s life. His love and dedication to his patients. His love for his friends. His love of life. His love of his daughters and his love for Betty.

He was a man whose proudest styles and titles were not Ch.B., DLO or FRCS but husband, father and friend.

John came regularly for Sunday lunch with us; he had his crystal glass in the cabinet – ready for his whisky, and he always brought a bottle of astonishingly good wine.

In his later years, as Jan and I took him home communion, he was always the gentleman. Thankful that we had come, delighted to see us and grateful for his communion. His truly gentlemanly stance made us full of awe and gratitude.

Asking his daughters what they would miss most about John they replied his love and the family meals that they shared.

Asking them what they remembered most about him, they said his love for Betty and his love for them.

In our love for John we can return him to God with all our happy memories of his life, with remembrances of times spent together, of conversations held, of acts of friendship.

He lived a long and good life and so in taking our leave of him I would like to finish with this blessing.

As you have loved in purity of heart so may you be loved

As you have given with generosity of hand so may you now receive

As you have journeyed with hopefulness of horizon so may you still travel

As you have cared with gentleness of touching so may you now be held

And as you have radiated the loving mercy of God so may that loving mercy now guide, guard and protect you into the final radiance.


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