Kehilat Middlesbrough Newsletter No 13 April 2002 page 2
Harold Stock died on 17 March 2002. The following is the funeral hesped delivered by Paul:
Mum, Philip, Lisa, Nadia, Adam & Rachel Friends and family
Dad would be overwhelmed to see so many of you here today.
It is a sad day for all of us. We are here to mourn the loss of a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle, a grandfather and most of all a dear friend.
However no matter how sad it is for us your presence and friendship and support means a lot to us all.
I would like to say a few words about Dad. Not only do I mourn his passing but I want this occasion also to mark a celebration of his life. I believe that marking his loss in this way will help all of us come to terms with our loss.
With your indulgence I will say a little about my Dad and his background and what mattered to him.
First, the history.
Dad was born in 1920. He grew up in Middlesbrough. His parents were master tailors. Both were immigrants who made a success of their integration into English life. At that time the M’bro Jewish community was thriving. Sadly as many of you know the community in Middlesbrough has moved on and away and the synagogue there is no more. But something of the M’bro Jewish community remains. That is its people – including of course my family. The community lives on in cyberspace with its own dedicated website. Although Dad was not exactly conversant with the computer age his memory will be preserved not only between us and by us but also around the world on the community website.
Dad was a keen sportsman. He played football for South Bank in the Northern League. He was a nationally known swimmer. His medal cabinet was formidable. He was international standard as a sprinter (100 yards as it then was) and but for the war would have been a contender for the national team for the Olympics in 1940.
His formative years as a teenager were the 1930’s. A young Jew in the UK at that time was obviously influenced by the rise of fascism – both at home with Mosley – and more worryingly for my father and his parents in Europe, where many of his cousins lived at that time. He was therefore one of the first to volunteer – before war was declared in April 1939. I’m not quite sure how but he ended up in the Royal Signal Corps. He saw active service in the first couple of years of the war – including El Alamein and other locations in North Africa. After this he was stationed in Alexandria and Cairo for a while at HQ and then, for the reasons that are never apparent to any one in the military, was transferred to Iraq. He spent most of the last 4 years of the war between Egypt/Palestine/Iraq and Persia. After the North African campaign the only weapon he picked up every day was his beloved saxophone. In fact I think he was quite proud of the fact that his Enfield had little use for so much of the war.
He started playing music seriously as a child. His first professional engagement was as a 13 or 14 year old - surprisingly not on the sax or on clarinet – but on the banjo! That event was actually recorded for posterity by the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette - and the photo republished in a historical edition only last year. It referred to him as “unknown” – but not for long. He was tickled pink to remind the paper that it was him!
His musical interests lasted a lifetime – he performed in many venues – he wrote and arranged woodwind music voraciously. His musical library would grace any musical college from his own arrangements by themselves. His arrangements were performed by the many bands and youth orchestras with which he was involved through his life. These included local bands here in Manchester – one of the youth bands invited him to play with them in Stanley Park Blackpool about 6 years ago – when he was a youthful 75 year old. He loved it. So did we – it was a really nice day out for Lisa and I and the children. Latterly, his concert repertoire included gigs at the Jewish Social Services in North Manchester (Nicky Alliance centre) and his regular weekly get together with his musical pals for pure enjoyment. Music and particularly jazz and big band sound were “his thing.” Unfortunately one of life’s quirks is that Dad’s musical ability did not get passed onto me. However as many of you know Philip is an accomplished pianist and double bass player; Adam an accomplished jazz pianist and saxophonist and Rachel is the percussionist of the family. It is really great to me that Dad’s tradition and musical enthusiasm lives on.
I recall with great affection the jam sessions at our house – often at Chanukah – Philip or Adam on piano; Adam or Dad on sax or clarinet; Rachel on percussion. Even for some one with no musical ear such as myself these were a great pleasure.
Professionally, as you all know, my Dad was a solicitor. I hasten to add that he was one of the few to pass his solicitors exams in Baghdad of all places! He started his studies at Armstrong College at Durham University pre-war. He passed first year but then everything went on hold for the war years. His final exams were taken just before being demobbed and he then worked in the profession – first for a firm in Suffolk and then in partnership with the late Frank Birch in Middlesbrough. Eventually, as you all know, he helped me to establish my own practice in Tameside and Oldham. The firm bears his name. It will continue to bear his name. It is a source of great pride to me that this is so. He was and will remain an inspiration to myself and my 2 partners Mark & Nigel. He was loved and admired by our loyal staff – past and present - many of whom are here to day. On behalf of all of us at the office I want to thank him profusely.
My Dad’s involvement with Israel dates back to his teens. He has written an extensive history of his formative years and his war years. He was keenly aware of the issues which surrounded the Jewish community both here and abroad from an early age. As a result of being based in Egypt and then Iraq he had the good fortune to be able to spend his annual army leave in Palestine, as well as undergoing training at Sarafand (near Tel Aviv). This was the start of a lifelong relationship with Israel. Dad was what most of us would call a Zionist of the traditional school. He did not have much truck with politicians generally, but the 2 Jewish politicians he did admire were Chaim Weizmann (the first President of the State of Israel – and a former research scientist here in Manchester) and David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister. He admired their guts and determination. Coincidentally, those are two of the things that I always admired in him. He visited Israel frequently. He worked tirelessly for Jewish and Israeli charities. Again this is a tradition that lives on in our family. Again we owe him a debt of gratitude for this legacy.
However, above all my Dad was a very proud family man. There are too many family moments which stand out, but inevitably I need to recall one or two for you. I apologise in advance for being selective. I recall his reaction when he found out he was to be a grandfather for the first time. As some of you may know, Lisa and I were on holiday in Israel when she needed some medical attention and ended up in the Assouta hospital in Tel Aviv. I phoned home. It was the first time in my life that my Mum and my Dad were speechless. Even though I was in Israel at the time I can still picture their faces in my mind. Dad told me later he had dropped the telephone. I suspect it was the only time he ever did.
Dad and Mum were happily married for nearly 52 years. My parents built up a warm and caring and happy home. My parents enjoyed their joint activities – I will mention only one. Even last year at my cousin Patrick’s wedding in Paris they had everyone in the reception stood to one side as my Mum and my Dad held the dance floor with an amazing and dazzling display of ballroom and latin american dancing. Remember – at that time he was aged 80. It was a fabulous performance – frankly one of the best that I recall.
Dad was especially proud of his grandchildren. He had a special relationship with each one. He always had time for each of them. When I was in his study on Monday Mum showed me a letter he had written but not sent or given to . Adam has seen it now. Dad wthat Adam was able to use his brain and have complex political and social debate – even though their views were disparate. He was intensely proud that Nadia has made medical school and loves it – but not only that but the same medical environment where Mum studied in Newcastle. His last farewell to Rachel on Saturday evening was touching for both of them. She stood at the foot of his bed. She smiled and waved. Weak though he was he raised his hand and waved back he smiled. I will cherish that sight in the same way that she will and Mum will.
Finally and above I have a simple message to finish this address. I know the phrase has been used before but never is it more apposite than now.
I leave you with this final thought. I thank you all for listening to me. I could go on but like the good lawyer that my father was it is now time to rest my case.