Felix Heidenstam: from shop floor to boardroom at Norwich’s Laurence Scott
An apprentice engineer with one of the biggest employers in Norwich, Felix Heidenstam, who has died peacefully aged 92, rose to become a main board director.
He joined Laurence, Scott & Electromotors in the mid 1930s after his education was cut short after his father's sudden death.
Born in St George, Granada, in the British West Indies in October 1918, where his father was chief of police, Felix Henry Skene Heidenstam was sent to Cheam School, Hampshire. But when his father died before taking up a post as the chief police officer in Palestine in 1933, he had to leave Cheltenham College.
LSE, which was also a defence specialist, then made early mechanical 'computers' for tracking guns. He had joined the Territorials with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers before the second world war. As he had studied these systems, his expertise was invaluable and after war was declared, he lectured other REME detachments on anti-aircraft batteries and searchlights, which used similar tracking mechanisms.
In 1942, he married Marjorie, who was a morse code expert with the WRAF. They went on to celebrate their golden wedding but she died in 1996.
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Although most of his service was at home, he was posted to Palestine towards the end of the war and demobilised with the rank of major before rejoining LSE.
Although he left Norwich for a couple of years to work in packaging and the motor industry, he rejoined LSE in 1959 as assistant general manager of the control gear works. Then in 1967, as head of the control gear works, which made equipment for nuclear submarines and power stations, he became a local director. Then in January 1969, he was promoted to the main board but was forced to leave the company in the early 1970s.
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He served for many years as a member of industrial tribunals, mainly in Norfolk and Suffolk, ironically often hearing unfair dismissal cases.
At the time of his death, he was the fourth highest ranking von Heidenstam in the world, with his own entry in the Swedish Book of Nobles. His family, which hails from Germany, moved to Sweden, where a great-grandfather was a Swedish diplomat to the Ottoman Empire.
Mr Heidenstam took up travelling into his 80s and spent winters in India and North Africa, including Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. With his health failing last autumn, while staying in Romania, he returned to Britain and later died peacefully at Ipswich Hospital.
He leaves two sons, David and Mark.
A funeral service will be held at Earlham Cemetery Chapel, Norwich, on Thursday, April 14 at 2.30pm.