Geoffrey Otton – PeA 39-45

Thursday 23 June 2022

Submitted by Lucy Otton

Geoffrey grew up in the London suburbs.  He was sponsored through Christ’s Hospital to get him out of London during the war.  He recognised that this had been a life-changing opportunity, opening doors to new horizons and opportunities, and later he repaid his debt to the school by sponsoring another child through her education there.

He fulfilled his ambition to win a place to read Classics at St John’s College, Cambridge.  Here he enjoyed the whole range of classical culture, took part in the Greek play, rowed, sang, and met his future wife, Hazel, a fellow Classicist. After graduation in 1948 he did National Service, then started work in the Home Office in 1951.  This was the beginning of a Civil Service career which gave him great satisfaction until he retired in 1986.

Geoffrey and Hazel married in 1952 and settled in Hampton in Middlesex.  Lucy was born in 1954, and Felix arrived 3 years later, completing the family.  In 1961, they moved to Bromley in Kent, where they lived happily for the next 57 years.

In the late 1960s, Geoffrey’s section was transferred from the Home Office to DHSS, where he had a very successful career, finally becoming Second Permanent Secretary, responsible for social security.  He was highly respected by his colleagues for his intelligence, high standards, kindness, generosity and management skills.

In retirement, Geoffrey continued to use his management skills and experience on a voluntary basis with Bromley voluntary services and as chairman of the governors of Lingfield special school (now St Piers). He and Hazel continued to sing in choirs and became regular concert goers.  Geoffrey enjoyed courses in music, art and architecture, which enriched their many holidays around Europe.  At home, he developed useful interests in cooking and gardening.  As Hazel become less mobile, Geoffrey devoted himself to caring for her, a role which he continued until he was in his 90s.

They moved to a retirement flat in Cheltenham in 2018 to be near Lucy, and he embraced the move with energy and enthusiasm.  Hazel died in March 2021, after nearly 69 years of marriage. Geoffrey found life hard without her, but he kept a keen interest in life, his positive attitude and sense of humour to the end. He died peacefully in his own home at the age of 94, a true gentleman.