1930 to 1954

Geoffrey's father, Harold, was a time-served printer, who had served his seven year apprenticeship in the Bull Ring area of Birmingham, his home town (map 1). Harold met his wife to be, Edith Firkins, on the Links Common of her home town,Malvern, Worcestershire (map 1); chatting her up whilst his pride and joy, a B.S.A. Gold Star motor cycle, cooled down.

Edith, or Cis, as she was known to the family, was between posts of cook/housekeeper to "the gentry". These were people like Lord and Lady Urwick, and the surviving family of the author Trollope.

Cis and Harold (photo) were married in December 1930, and Harold moved to a new job in Manchester, (map 1) as compositor on the new daily newspaper of the English Labour Party, The Daily Herald. He and Cis purchased, on a mortgage, for two hundred and ten pounds, their new "sunshine" semidetached house that was to be the family home until Harold, the surviving widower, died, on Geoffrey's birthday, in 1966.

Here Geoffrey lived and was educated locally (photo of school) in the state system until 1949, when he left to study at Birmingham University. He graduated four years later as a Civil Engineer, to his parents delight. Geoffrey's father was especially proud as this was in Birmingham, his own home town.

Perhaps Geoffrey travelled a lot later in life, to compensate for the restrictions on travelling and holidays that the family experienced due to World War 2 (1939 to 45). To avoid the bombing of Manchester in the winter of 1940/1, Geoff, his mother and brother, moved into the country (photo of grandparents' cottage) to stay with her parents in Malvern (map 1). Here he went to the same school (photo of village school) and was taught by the same teacher as his mother had had 24 years' earlier.

Although they avoided the Manchester 'blitz, the family did not avoid the bombing altogether, and after nights of air raids, Geoff spent his time on the way to school looking for lumps of metal shrapnel from bombs and anti-aircraft shells, to be swapped in the school playground.

The family also spent six months in the Isle of Wight (map 1), a small island off the South of England, to spend as much time with their father, now a Royal Marine Commando, in training for commando raids and invasion landings in Sicily and Salerno, Italy. This was where Geoff began to develop a taste for milder winter weather. Ironically he also had his first sight of a Nazi fighting man. A few days before Christmas, Geoff and his brother went down to play in the sea. Whilst out on the exposed beach the Air Raid Warning sounded and shortly afterwards a Nazi fighter plane made a low pass at the two children alone on the wide expanse of beach and they could clearly discern the pilot's features. Fortunately he chose not to machine gun these easy targets and he flew off over the sea back to France and Germany. Geoff later learnt that the pilot had used up all his ammunition as he machine gunned the commandos exposed on the white chalk cliffs, training for invasion landings.

1954 to 1961

These moves were the first of many leading to Geoffrey's world wide travels for both recreation and education. After graduating, he started work in a London Consulting engineer's office (map 1) for a year, then moved on to the construction of a sugar jetty at Erith on the River Thames (map 1). For nine months he resisted the obvious, until finally, like all the rest of the site staff, he too fell into the River Thames. He travelled extensively, working on a dam in Switzerland, and throughout Europe pursuing his principal hobby at that time, of skin diving.

Geoff was lucky not to follow one skin diving expedition he joined, to its final conclusion. The team had bought an ex-US army DWK, an amphibious road vehicle, and they had driven it from England, across the 25 miles or so of the English Channel, and down to the South of France.

On the way back the DWK sank, and the crew were only just rescued by a nearby cross-channel ferry, who thought that they were just giving a few hearty cheers, not shouting for help! Geoff, had fortunately decided to stay on in the South of France.

Having completed his professional qualifications as a chartered Civil Engineer, Geoff then went into coal mining, designing pit head winding gear during the day; and buying and converting houses into flats in the evenings. This fired the Entrepreneur in Geoff, and he moved on to management consultancy, where he started learning the basics of advising companies how to improve their performance by attention to detail.

A charmingly naive streak was exposed here in Geoff, which was to remain with him for the rest of his life. Whilst accepting that he was working for these super efficient experts, he was still surprised to find that his employment conditions meant that he himself had to work very hard, and could make nothing on expenses!

1961 to 1997

Geoffrey next decided that in order to move up the management consultancy ladder, he needed a more specialised degree. So he used the income from his two blocks of flats in his home town of Manchester, to pay for his master's degree course at the University of Southern California, starting in 1961. Little did he realise that he was virtually leaving England for ever.

With his USC master's degree Geoffrey followed a successful career working for various US companies and travelling widely. We never really knew what he did for Wells Fargo, nor how he progressed from Mattel's toys, via shipping containers, to Dillingham construction. After 25 years he became self employed, working in various fields of project consultancy and financial planning. These included film and cardboard box making, and in 1985, Geoff believed that he produced the only calendar in the US that featured ducks!

However, the most successful and best loved product of his 36 years in the USA was his daughter Hilary (photo), a young woman of whom he was very proud.

Following his first heart attack around 1990, Geoffrey received a lot of help and support from his circle of friends in and around Mill Valley (map 2),many of them based on the CC Church.

Fortunately the closest of these, Mrs Marcia Lizza (photo), was with him when he died.

Geoff always, but unrealistically, talked of returning "home" to England, and so finally he has had his wish. At Hilary's request, his ashes have been returned to England to be scattered with those of his parents, in the West Garden of Remembrance (photo), Southern Cemetery, in his home town of Manchester, England.

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