Britain’s longest serving councillor dies

MOVING tributes have been paid to one of Britain's longest serving councillors, Caister centenarian Jack Chase, who has died suddenly in his sleep at home.

The popular 104-year-old's death on Wednesday <November 17> was a shock to his relatives and council colleagues, as he had been in typically jovial and sprightly mood when he received an award for his 83 years' service as a councillor at a packed Caister Village Hall in October.

The former RAF officer had also been active in the days leading up to his death, attending Remembrance Day services on Sunday and visiting his daughter Pamela Pegge, 70, who lived next door to him in Yarmouth Road, for lunch on Monday and Tuesday.

She discovered him collapsed by his bed following a suspected stroke when she took him a newspaper at 11am on Wednesday.

She said he was still able to speak and said he was going to get up and put some clothes on, but she made him a cup of coffee and said he should go back to bed, which he did. He died in his sleep.

However, Mrs Pegge, who lives with husband Alan, 80, was able to find solace in the manner of his death.

'It was absolutely marvellous for him because it was the way he would have wanted to go.

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'He would have hated to have gone into hospital. He would have hated to have been pulled about like that. Up until the end, he was very much his own man.

'He made all his own decisions and he would have hated to have been incapacitated. In that respect, the manner of his death could not have been better.'

Her fondest memories of him were at Christmas family reunions and the advice he used to give his six children, 15 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

'He was a great family man. He had 15 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren and he knew them all.

'He played with them all and he loved nothing more than the family get togethers at Christmas. He never found fault with any of them.

'If I said to him that somebody had misbehaved or made a mistake, he would say it is always the same, if they have made a mistake then they will learn from it,' Mrs Pegge said.

As well as Mrs Pegge, keen golfer Mr Chase has three surviving children- former Norwich City chairman Robert, 72, Brian, 67 and Diane Kemp, 58. His other daughter Patricia died when she was young while son Michael died in July.

Caister Parish Council chairman Tony Overill was also shocked at the sudden death.

He said: 'It is a shock. I saw Jack last week. He had just been to Offords newsagents in the village and was walking across the road.'

He paid tribute to Mr Chase at last month's award ceremony, which was attended by 60 dignitaries including Norfolk County Council chairman Tony Tomkinson and borough council leader Barry Coleman.

He joked: 'We hold Jack in great affection. Often in council a problem arises with its roots in the past. We don't have to consult our archives. We can sit here and without deliberation he will give you how, when and where it happened.'

During Mr Chase's council tenure there have been 20 prime ministers, 19 US presidents and 1927, the year he started as a councillor, saw the first trnsatlantic phone call between London and New York.

One of his earliest memories was of the Zeppelin over Yarmouth in 1915 during the first world war and a German shell fired from a destroyer landing in his grandfather's garden.

He married wife Kathleen in 1931. She died in 1992.

He joined the RAF as an officer in Kent with the outbreak of the second world war but did not dwell on his own military past.

As well as his continuing stint on Caister parish council, Mr Chase also represented his village on Blofield and Flegg Rural District Council from 1948 and Yarmouth Borough Council from 1973 following local government re organisation.

In interviews for the Mercury, he spoke of his pride in his visible achievements in Caister, which included overseeing the start of work on the seawall in Caister in the 1930s to protect the village against the sea.

In his leisure time he enjoyed a round of golf and was president and captain of Caister Golf Club.

Mr Chase's father built most of the homes in Tan Lane while his son Robert expanded the family building business.

Although a Tory, Mr Chase maintained politics should be kept out of local issues and described himself as non conformist.

He said: 'In any political life you have to be true to yourself.

'I had great difficulty in being true to myself in the group I was in.

'As chairman of the housing committee I took the view that you can't be in that role unless you build houses and house people.'

He was awarded the freedom of the borough in 2002 joining an elite list including Lord Nelson.