Mr R. Parker

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MR Ronald Parker, of Denton, near Grantham, has died in Grantham Hospital. He was 97.

He was born in December 1913, in the village of Blaxton, Yorkshire, where his father was working as a railway signalman. Shortly after his birth the family moved to East Barnet, where his early years were spent. Even though he was only a small boy at the time, he remembered being taken by his father to see the result of a Zeppelin raid over London.

In the 1920s the family moved north to Peterborough, and it was there, at the age of 14, that he began his working life, becoming an engineering apprentice at Barford Perkins. He enjoyed his time there and was sorry when the firm moved to Grantham and he had to find alternative employment.

In December 1929, just a month short of his 16th birthday, he began his almost 50-year association with the railways, when he became a telegraph lad. He spent some months training, which included learning Morse code, which was made a little easier for him because he had been in the scouts. He worked through several different positions and after six years a further promotion brought the opportunity to go to Cullingworth in Yorkshire, as a porter/signalman, a move which proved to be life changing.

It was at the railway station in Cullingworth that he met Gladys and they were married in 1937 in Yorkshire. Two years later they moved to Barkston, following yet another promotion for Ronald. They arrived in the village just before the outbreak of World War Two. There were transfers between the signal boxes in Barkston and Honington during the war, but in 1947 he went to Barkston South Box, where he worked for the next 25 years until its closure in April 1972. His final years before retirement were spent at Honington, where he manned the signal box and the level crossing gates on the A607.

The couple lived in two different homes in Barkston, for most of their married life and when he retired in 1978 a presentation was held at the Stag Inn, where he received a set of gardening tools.

Mr Parker was an enthusiastic gardener and always grew a selection of vegetables. He also tended an allotment, providing produce for the family.

An amateur horologist, he often mended watches or clocks for people and was once called to Belton House on one occasion, in the days before the National Trust, as the butler had heard good things about him.

Mr Parker was a man who could master most tasks but he never did learn to drive. He bought a bicycle in the 1930s and continued to ride it all through his working life.

When his home in Barkston was due for extensive renovations, he and his wife took the decision to move to Denton, to be nearer to their daughter. Gladys died in 1996, after 59 years of marriage. Mr Parker remained in his cottage at Denton until a few weeks prior to his death. He leaves a son, Graham, and daughter, Penny, as well as three grandchildren, Hazel, Helen and Adrian.

He will be remembered by his family and many people in Grantham and the surrounding areas as a true gentleman.

The funeral service was held at Grantham Crematorium Chapel, conducted by the Rev Keith Hanson.

Family mourners included: Graham, Yvonne and Helen Parker, Penny, Hazel and Adrian Greetham, Ruth and Harold Holmes, Ronald, John and Kath Pickersgill, Christine and Nigel Lightfoot, Hilary and Mark Hatch and Russell and Lynne Birch.

Other mourners included: Irene Bradford, Gwen and Alan Eardley, Sandra Emery, Irene and David Sissons, Geoff and Carol Harris, June and Graham Nicolson, Pamela Dodd and Barbara Corton.

Funeral arrangements were by Geeson Funeral Directors, Westgate, Grantham.

Donations were received for Cancer Research UK.