Tributes have been paid to Fred Parker, who taught three generations of Melton schoolchildren, following his death at the age of 72.
Fred, who lived his whole life at Great Dalby, worked at Brownlow Primary School in the town from 1969 to 2013 but continued to take a brass music class twice a week after retiring.
He was held in such affection by past pupils that some years ago they set up a special ‘Fred Parker appreciation page’ on Facebook to share their classroom memories of him.
News of his passing has prompted hundreds of tributes to be posted on social media praising his teaching skills and his warm and friendly personality.
His niece, Louise Allen, told the Melton Times: “We knew how we felt about Fred but we didn’t realise just how much other people loved him too.
“Someone posted a message on Facebook after he passed away and there were 150 comments within an hour and there are now more than 400.
“Whenever you went into Melton with him we would always bump into someone he once taught and he always remembered them.”
Fred was born at Church Farm in Great Dalby. He grew up in a long-established farming family but although he enjoyed helping out his life’s passion was to lie in teaching.
After attending the village primary school and taking his 11-plus at the former King Edward VII School, he passed a BA Honours degree in economics, history and politics at Sheffield University.
Teacher training followed for Fred when he was 22 before he became a teacher at Brownlow, beginning a remarkable 44-year career there.
His name will live on at the school after staff, governors and pupils named a carved owl, made from the trunk of a tree planted when the school was built, ‘Parker’ in his honour.
When a special party was thrown for him on his retirement in July 2013, Fred told the Melton Times: “The happiness I’ve had in this job has been through the children I’ve met and worked with. The first pupils I taught are now aged about 53 and there are still several around from my very first class.”
Fred loved music and was a talented trumpet player who enjoyed passing on his knowledge to pupils at school. He played the Last Post at Remembrance Sunday services at Great Dalby.
He will also be missed on the local cricket scene, playing for his home village club for many years and acting as groundsman there in recent years.
Fred loved playing football in his youth and continued to enjoy a kickabout in the Scalford Road car park with his friends, one of whom is in his 80s.
He also enjoyed playing table tennis and was a regular card player at the Royal Oak pub in the village.
Ruth Story, another of his nieces, said: “He was a regular at Miss Bs Tea Room in Melton, the Sit and Settle cafe and he loved the lunches at Sysonby Knoll.
“He knew so many people and we’ve had so many cards since we lost him.
“We are expecting a huge turnout for his funeral.”
Brownlow School said in a statement that they had heard about Fred’s passing ‘with great sadness and heavy hearts’.
The school said: “Fred was a wonderful man with the best interests of everyone at Brownlow at heart.
“We wish his family, friends and colleagues the deepest and most sincere condolences and trust that they know just how much he will be missed by us.
“Rest in Peace Fred.”
Ryan Franklin, who was taught by Fred from 1982 to 1989 told the Melton Times: “He was a dedicated teacher who taught me, my sister, uncle and niece.
“Mr Parker was a true one-off, totally dedicated to teaching his kids, the school and the community.
“So many young children in the town have him to thank for their love of sport, chess, brass instruments and for having a good education.
“He will be sorely missed but very much remembered by all who he taught.”
Fred never married and is survived by sisters Midge and Sandra. His brother Tony and other sister Sheila have passed away.
He suffered a seizure 15 months ago but appeared in good health before he died at home on Monday (February 4).
A funeral service will be held on Thursday February 21 at 12 noon at Great Dalby Church followed by burial.