The RNLI saves lives at sea.

David Baxter

Also known as: Dave.

Picture of David Baxter.

Dave was the eighth child of his father, Walter, a police inspector originally from Suffolk, but 3 half brothers died in their infancy and Dave’s brother Arthur did not live to his teens. He grew up in Hanwell, West London with his brother Son, sister Nell and half sister Dora. As a young man he loved dancing, football and motorbikes.

He started to work for the London Borough of Ealing in the 1930’s and stayed with them – apart from his war service - until his retirement in 1975, becoming responsible for the organisation of elections and later for the land registry too. He claimed that he once caused a strike by telling some workmen to use their “bloody gumption” – the word gumption apparently being the offensive term. They had previously tried his patience by erecting a temporary polling station with four walls, but no door into it.

When the war came, he joined up before he could be called up, determined to avoid the infantry, and enlisted in the RASC. He served in North Africa and Italy. He was promoted to sergeant – twice – once he was demoted again before news of the promotion reached England. The second time he kept his rank. He talked of the war, but generally of isolated incidents and more of comical things that had happened, rather than the horrors he had seen. He often recalled being shipwrecked in the Mediterranean and the Army reissuing him with his own salvaged kit once he was back on shore.

Once home from the war he never wanted to go abroad again. He married Louise – known as Fluff to all the family and their friends in those days – once the war ended and their marriage lasted over 61 years. They lived in Ealing and then Northolt until both were in their late seventies when they moved out to Bridport in Dorset where they stayed until Louise died in 2006. He had always wanted to live near the sea and spent most of his holidays at the coast, usually in his beloved Cornwall. He loved naval stories and history.

Dave was a very strong stoical man, always able to see the funny side of things with a mischievous sense of humour. He enjoyed being with people and loved teasing banter. At the same time, Dave was a very orderly man who respected efficiency and accuracy. He liked things to be robust and to last, making sturdy birdtables and plant troughs, for example, and attaching metal studs to the schoolshoes of his mortified daughter.

He liked strong flavours – curries and chilli - and strong colours and flamboyant flowers – fuchsias, dahlias. He was a great gardener and very patient with plants. He was interested in anything mechanical, football, gardening and animals of all kinds, whether wildlife, other people’s pets or birds in the garden.

He was a member of the RSPB, National Trust and British Legion and a great supporter of the RNLI. A lifelong NALGO, now Unison, member, he kept up with events in Ealing via the retired members’ newsletters and contact with previous colleagues. His musical tastes were varied – Neville Dickie and ragtime piano, Gigli, big band music of the 40s, Spike Jones and his City Slickers, Gilbert and Sullivan – but he took a western to read when accompanying his wife to classical concerts and once allegedly fell asleep in the 1812 overture. Choosing music for his funeral was difficult – all he suggested was Any Old Iron.

He left a legacy to the RNLI and also asked that donations should be made to it, rather than money be spent on flowers for his funeral. He said he was wearing out and had lived too long. Two heart attacks and a stroke took their toll, but living without Fluff was the final blow and he died within six months of her death. A lovely man and much missed.

Sue Ellis, daughter.

Added by: Sue Ellis on 19 September 2007.

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Picture of David Baxter.
Picture of David Baxter.
Picture of David Baxter.

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The RNLI is a charity that provides a 24-hour lifesaving service around the UK and Republic of Ireland.

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