Home life ... & deaths
As a child I often visited the house and I remember the gas water-heaters in the kitchens and bathroom, the distant rumble of trains passing through Watford Junction and the flashes like lightning, from the underground trains that terminated there. There were often other visitors; Winifred in particular was very gregarious and particularly enjoyed the company of younger people. We spent several holidays with the Wynn-Owens in Kent. Eric and Winifred did not always see eye to eye and religion was sometimes a bone of contention; Eric could be provocative. The shared occupancy of the house did not help, nor did the fact that they had to survive on the rather inadequate pay of a teacher and Eric was working long hours under considerable stress. He had two facial mannerisms, a nervous tick and a habit of pulling his lower jaw sideways. Eric’s pastoral duties at the school involved him in a fair number of visits to the Juvenile Court and collaboration with the Probation Service; it was a tough area. Eventually he clashed with a new headmaster who wanted to terminate the teaching of Religious Knowledge but Eric won the day. Thereafter his working environment was not a very happy one and he took the first opportunity to retire, after which things were very much less strained at home.
The family was devastated by the sudden death of Peter Wynn-Owen on 7 February 1981 at the age of thirty-five.
Eric was very close to his sisters; he and Elaine both lived in Watford and their two families always got together at Christmas and often for holidays. Winifred and Elaine played tennis together twice a week. Winifred suffered a fatal heart attack in May 1994; she had suffered an earlier attack and had also been treated for cancer. He and Elaine then visited each other more often and he was greatly affected by Elaine's death in December 1997. He began to lose touch with reality and started to treat photographs as living people. Almost two years later, on 20 December 1999, following an enjoyable evening out with his son’s father-in-law, he collapsed and died on his return home; the cause was found to be a burst aorta. Eric and Winifred are survived by their youngest son and his children.
At the time of writing, the 'Time Team' programme about the digging up of Paul Henry Klipsch's (Eric's step-brother's) Spitfire, is available to view (sorry about the ads); Eric appears in the programme and at the end reads parts of the poem 'High Flight'.