Mr. W. W. Lane
In 1946 Walter lane was appointed by the acting Headmaster, Mr. Crowle Ellis, to teach Classics at Harrow County. By the time he took up his appointment he found Dr. Simpson had taken over, a scholar committed to raise the Classical Department to as high a standard as any, and to contribute personally to that end.
Walter made no claims to classical scholarship. Former pupils recall that his chief talents as a teacher were kindly patience and encouragement, especially with less able linguists. he was a stickler for correct English, and firmly believed in the value of Latin in inculcating that. He never succumbed to the temptation, which can afflict a Head of Department, to annex more than his share of sixth-form work. Rather, as a good manager, he was happy to make the best use of the manpower available to him, pleased and proud at the success of the department under his control. He was thus able to secure the long support of Ken Waller and myself; that we stayed so long as Harrow County was not least due to Walter's wise encouragement to each of us to promote excellence in his own way.
Walter's administrative skill was also valued as a book-keeper. He managed the School's unofficial funds, the "Gaytonian Account", for many years. Thus holding the money-bags, he knew all that went on outside the classroom in social and sporting activities. He shared with the boys a lifelong interest in railways, especially steam. At controversial Common Room meetings he would listen with one eye open until provoked to interject some shrewd words of moderation. In his last years of service he was in charge of the organisation of the GCE's. He deplored the destruction of the grammar school and the abolition of the sixth form, and it was to his relief that he was nearing retirement when reorganisation took place.
Retiring as Senior Teacher after thirty years at Gayton Road, Walter continued to live in North Harrow. He was not interested in modern languages or in travel abroad. His wife Phyllis would drive them each year to the Highlands of Scotland, where one of their enthusiasms was bird-watching. They remained stalwarts of the local Methodist Church; the Bible was of lifelong importance to Walter, and he regretted the modern unfamiliarity with both its content and its imagery. Eventually Walter gave up managing the Box Office of the Harrow Choral Society, in which Phyllis sang; his own musical tastes were largely guided by her.
About ten years ago he was suddenly stricken with diabetes, which developed complications affecting his eyesight. This distressingly imperilled his love of reading. He had always been a voracious reader of newspapers, and could no longer follow the cricket scores of his beloved Gloucestershire or keep track of the tock Exchange quotations for his investments. He had a special affinity with the verbal wit of Wodehouse and the fluent style of Trollope, which now had to be savoured on tapes.
Walter was devoted to John and Barbara and his four grandsons. The combination of Phyllis' energy and Walter's calmness of temperament ensured a happy home, as each supported the other in moments of stress; they celebrated their Golden Wedding earlier in 1993. His health appeared to have stabilised for some years, but in October he suffered a heart attack, and entered hospital for the first time in his life. His general constitution gradually deteriorated, and he died of another attack on November 23rd, at the age of 82. his funeral was attended by a large congregation, including some dozen former colleagues and their wives.
Obituary written by B. G. Marchant and published in the Old Gaytonian Magazine, 1994.
return to main staff page