Service tribute to Dickie Leece, ‘true gentleman’

LIFE REMEMBERED: Dickie Leece with his great grandson Evan Dunne

LIFE REMEMBERED: Dickie Leece with his great grandson Evan Dunne

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THE life of a man known as a true gentleman was celebrated in a service of thanks giving for Dickie Leece this month in Arbory Parish Church.

Born in Pump Street, Croit-e-Caley, Colby, in April 1923, he was the youngest child of Richard and Alma (nee Quayle). Alma died when Dickie was just three, so his older sisters Olive and Doris took care of him and Richard.

He went to Rushen Central School, now Rushen Primary School, until the age of 14, when he began an apprenticeship as a joiner with McArd’s.

At 19 he joined the Merchant Navy and spent the rest of the war travelling around the world, he always said his favourite port was Rio de Janiero in Brazil and he always wanted to return, though he never did.

He met and married Dorothy and she already had a son Roger and together they had three more children, Colin, Brenda and Yvonne.

Dickie worked for the Isle of Man Steam Packet during the summer holiday season and with the winter work schemes, and was involved in paving the Sloch Road – in the dead of winter!

During the winter months he was also occupied doing repairs and redecorating work at Olive Mount, the guest house in Port Erin that Dorothy ran.

Given the scarcity of work in the post war years, Dickie was always on the look out for new opportunities. He spotted an advertisement for a joiner needed to work on building a new housing estate in Blacon near Chester. Dickie got the job and went there, sending money back to his family.

He was also involved in setting up the factory at Ronaldsway Aircraft Company. He and Fred Costain went to London for training and returned to manage development of the factory; Fred did the day shift and Dickie did the night shift. When the night shift stopped, Dickie became senior charge hand with Fred as foreman.

Dickie retired in 1986, but he did not retire from life and was kept busy with his many interests. He loved sports and was a founder player of Ronaldsway Football Club and a player for the Colby team. His gentlemanly demeanour off the field contrasted sharply with the killer instinct he displayed on the pitch! He was a referee and life member of the Isle of Man Referees’ Society and of the Port St Mary Bowling Club.

His other interests included being an enthusiastic beekeeper, a founding member of Ronaldsway Aircraft Society Club, a member of Colby British Legion (he was awarded a certificate of thanks for his ability to sell poppies), a staunch supporter of the Manx Labour Party, a volunteer driver for the Rushen Emergency Ambulance and an active and supportive member of the Croit-e-Caley Methodist chapel.

Dorothy died in 1996 and Dickie moved to Reayrt y Chrink, where he was happy though seldom at home. He met friends, went for long drives with binoculars to survey nature, made the rounds of football matches, staying for 15 minutes before moving on to the next one, he loved riding the steam train to Douglas and back. The family often joked that they had to make an appointment to see him!

After a stroke in January last year, he moved to Abbotswood Nursing Home, where the staff members were wonderful and he joined in with many of the activities, and especially enjoyed teasing the nurses. But if a match was on, visitors had to leave!

Dickie died on January 28 leaving behind many friends and family.

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