Jack Greenaway, a police officer, entertainer and traveller, has died aged 83 after a long battle with dementia.
Jack, or Tony to family members, was born on July 7, 1932, in Parkhurst, on the Isle of Wight, where his father was a prison officer.
His family moved to Lewes in 1938, to the Nevill estate, as his father had been transferred to Lewes Prison. Jack’s daughter, Jackie, and her husband, Ashley, live in the same house that Jack grew up in.
Jack met his wife, Brenda, at a dance in Brighton in 1953 and they were married in 1956. They had daughter Jacqueline a couple of years later, in 1958.
After completing his national service with the RAF in Wiltshire, between 1950 and 1952, Jack became a police officer and, from 1959, was the village bobby in Ringmer and living in the police house. Many of the older residents who lived in the village at the time still remember seeing PC Greenaway on his bicycle.
In 1965, Jack was promoted to Sergeant and moved onto training the police cadets. In 1969 he was promoted, again, to Inspector, now in charge of the cadet training. He particularly enjoyed going to Dartmoor for the Ten Tors competition as well as the Brecon Beacons and following the Devizes to Westminster canoe race at Easter.
Jack had many hobbies outside of his work, including amateur dramatics and pantomime. He had his first show with Lewes Operatic Society in 1947 in Flora Dora. He would also appear in the St Mary’s Pantomime productions, and for 25 years was the pantomime dame. He also produced many shows for both the Operatic Society and Panto.
Jack also became a local entertainer in his own right. He loved magic, and would often do shows for children’s parties, or for those in residential homes on Christmas Day.
He had a particular love of Music Hall and would often go to the Hippodrome in Brighton to see the stars of the day. His idol was Max Miller and was a member of the Max Miller Society. When “Music Halls” were put on in Lewes, Jack would dress up as Max and do some of the great man’s routines on stage.
Jack also discovered a love for France, when he first went on a school trip in 1947 at the age of 16, to Blois, in the Loire Valley. While on that trip he met the family Duval. The friendship that grew between the two families continues to this day.
On hearing of his death, the Duval sisters referred to Jack as their “English brother”. Their father used to also refer to Jack as his “English son”.
When twinning between Blois and Lewes was formalised, Jack threw himself into the Association and went on to become Chairman for ten years, arranging trips to both the French town and then Waldshut (later to become Waldshut-Tiengen) in the Black Forest of Germany, as well as he and Brenda hosting families visiting Lewes. He gained many friends abroad, and was always inundated with invitations to events and offers to host him from many residents in both towns.
When Jack left the police force he changed career and due to the fact that he loved travelling, it wasn’t too much of a surprise that he got a job with Warrens Coaches of Ticehurst, and then Plumpton Coaches. Once he had gained experience of the industry, he set up his own coach holiday business, Barbican Tours.
Those who went on the coach tours will remember Jack as their guide to some of his favourite places in Europe, including France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Despite his love on travelling, Jack did not like flying, and would only do so if it was absolutely necessarily. When travelling abroad his favourite mode of transport was the train. He always had a copy of the Thomas Cook European Timetable within arm’s reach, and if there was any mention of a train journey, he would scoop up the book, flick to the relevant page to research the times of the trains and any connections needed, whether the journey was in England or abroad.
In recent years Jack sadly suffered from dementia and had to be cared for in Forest Lodge Care Home, near Nutley, for eight months until his death on Friday, January 8. His wife, Brenda, and daughter, Jackie, continue to be grateful to all the staff at the home for how they looked after him.
When St Mary’s Pantomime heard of Jack’s death they immediately decided to dedicate this year’s show, Robin Hood, to his memory, and at the end of the show each evening a message went up on a screen “In Memory of Jack Greenaway, 1932 to 2016”. On the last night, a photo of Jack was also displayed. Brenda and Jackie attended on the last night and many of the Panto members came to give their condolences and said how much Jack had meant to them, for he had introduced several of them to panto, many used one word to describe the man: “Legend”.
Brenda and Jackie describe it as a complete surprise and honour to have received so many letters and cards of condolence in the last couple of weeks. These included personal letters from the Mayor of Blois, Marc Gricourt, and the Oberbürgermeister of Waldshut, Philipp Frank. Even some of those who were police cadets in the 1950s have contacted the family with their messages of sadness and sharing their memories of their time training under Jack.
Jack was known by lots of people in at least three countries and for a variety of reasons. He was funny and generous, an entertainer, but who didn’t suffer fools gladly. Many will remember his sense of humour, quick wit, and love of life. He will be very sadly missed, but his memory will live on in so many people.
Jack Greenaway’s funeral is on Wednesday, January 27 at 1:30pm at St Anne’s Church in Lewes. Family flowers only, but donations to the Alzheimer’s Society, care of Cooper and Son Funeral Directors.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.sussexexpress.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Sussex-Express/
3) Follow us on Twitter @sussex_express
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Sussex Express - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.