George Klaiber (96)
George was born in London where his dad was a cabbie. Indeed George recalled how as a child he would sit on an orange box in the luggage compartment of the old taxis as his dad drove him around. It was a happy childhood with his sister Gladys with memories of family holidays to the South Coast when his dad would pop back to London if funds were running short. It also turned George into a life-long Arsenal supporter. George was a bright lad who won a scholarship to Haberdasher’s Askes Grammar School. His early life as a Chorister at St Pauls, Camden Square set the tone for the rest of his life since it developed in him the musical upbringing both he and Gladys received. It was while he was at school that he first met Gwen.
At the outset of the Second World War George was evacuated twice; first to a farm which he disliked and then to a house in the home counties which he enjoyed. But of course the War meant that George joined up in the Royal Tank Regiment becoming an instructor after he was found explaining how the engine worked to other recruits. George felt that he had a charmed life in that he did not see major action but was posted to Germany towards the end of the war visiting Belsen during its liberation.
At the resumption of peace, George returned to working at W H Smith in the Strand working his way up to become Regional Wholesale Manager. He also married Gwen. They were married for 25 years until Gwen’s early death from breast cancer. This was a great sadness to George who saw in Gwen a soulmate who shared his love for music. When they took part in amateur operatics, George described Gwen as a ‘soubrette’ which hinted at her attractive and vivacious nature. During this time they lived in Radlett where George served as organist and choir master. As you will know he was a very talented organist and this time marked an appearance on TV in Songs of Praise.
George’s job took him to Formby in Lancashire – moving back when Gwen was ill. Eventually George moved to Burghwallis to live at ‘Whitebeams’ and where he became active in St Helen’s church. Indeed, it was at church that he first met Norma where they ran the team of handbell ringers together and had that shared love of music. George also was regular organist at Doncaster Minster playing for the early service under Revd John Bird – who is represented by his nephew Richard – and relishing the opportunity to use the mighty Schultz organ there. George was always a practical man whether as a cook, a carpenter or with his model railway. He had a lively mind – he and Norma would vie over the Sunday Times Crossword which George won some 14 times. Indeed, George’s mind was active to the very end. When I prayed with him in hospital as he was dying he took part and left instructions for his funeral and memorial service. He was always a charming man who observed the niceties of old-fashioned courtesy. As his niece Amy related: she won his way into his heart when she was 2 years old and he never forgot a birthday. He had kind twinkly blue eyes and a love for dogs and animals. George also liked flowers and loved his garden and never more so then when organising others for the Garden Parties he hosted.
George’s Christian faith has been at the heart of his life from his early childhood to the point of his death. He has played a part in the life of each parish he has lived contributing particularly to the musical life. It was privilege to be able to pray with him at the end as it was for Fr Chris and myself to give him communion at home as his health became more uncertain. As we commend him into God’s loving arms we give thanks for a life well lived as a brother, uncle, husband and friend; as a man of faith who served his church and his country.
May George this day rest in peace and rise in Glory. Amen