'One of his finest qualities was his patience: an ability to sit and listen' - family pays tribute to Jack Chittock
PUBLISHED: 01:40 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 08 March 2019
Milkman's son Jack Chittock became managing director of a Suffolk demolition and construction firm. Son Clive looks back over his father's successful career, busy family life and his involvement with local freemasonry
Jack was born in 1927 and grew up in Morland Road, on the Gainsborough estate in Ipswich. His father, Vic, worked as a milkman and then coal salesman, and mum Gerty was a housewife.
The youngster went to Morland primary in the town, and on to Landseer Road School.
Jack met wife-to-be Iris when they worked at Ipswich grocers W Hewitt & Sons, in Upper Brook Street. He fell in love with her at first sight.
After joining the RAF – serving three months and coming home on leave – he proposed. They got married on April 29, 1950.
Jack was always one to look for an opportunity and in November, 1951, he borrowed money from his father to buy a general grocery store of his own in Rosehill Road, Ipswich. He and Iris ran it between them. Their first son, Ivan, was born in 1952.
The following year, Jack left the shop in the hands of his wife and went into civil engineering, joining the Jackson Group as a clerk.
His talents were soon recognised and he was asked to start doing the accounts. “He had very little knowledge at the time of how to do this but soon ran the accounts/purchasing department and became a major influence in the growth of the company,” says second son Clive.
Clive was born in 1955 and somehow Iris carried on running the shop while looking after the two boys. She did that until 1962, when they moved to Glencoe Road, Rushmere St Andrew, on the outskirts of town.
“Jack had established himself as an up-and-coming accounts manager within the industry and was asked to join Clarke Demolition and Construction Company in 1964, helping it grow into a well-established company within the area, and became the managing director of the company.”
Iris was called on several times to help make clients feel welcome, as she was renowned for her entertaining and culinary skills.
New business could come from near or far. One potential client from a great distance away was the Prince of Oman. It was something they were very proud of, although the couple were very nervous about entertaining a prince at their Suffolk home – Kilaguni, at Copdock, near Ipswich.
‘JC picked himself up and carried on’
Ivan took after his father and worked in finance and accountancy in Ipswich, starting with Volvo and moving to W. Carter (Haulage) Ltd. He was instrumental in the sale of the business to national haulier Wincanton plc. Ivan then worked for Deben Transport.
Clive joined the merchant navy and qualified as a navigating officer. After his children arrived he started his own business as a fish merchant, based at his adopted home town of Grimsby but maintaining an Ipswich connection – it’s where all his customers are based.
After the Lighthouse Club started, Jack helped launch the East Anglian branch of the charity that gives financial and emotional support to construction industry workers and families in their hours of need.
He was treasurer for many years – in fact, up until he was 89 years old. Jack’s efforts were rewarded with a certificate of long service, something he was justifiably very proud to receive.
“He was also a long-serving and respected mason of the Ionic Lodge (in Ipswich). Jack put a lot of time and work into masonry and was a founder member of the Composite Lodge, the first Saturday morning lodge within the area.
“He was also the treasurer for his lodge and only gave this up before moving to Grimsby at the grand age of 89. In fact, just before his death he had been awarded the Suffolk Provincial Order of Merit – a high and distinguished accolade indeed. Unfortunately, he passed away before being presented with it by the provincial grand master of Suffolk.”
Sadly, in 2013 his beloved Iris died. In a second tragic blow, six months later he lost son Ivan to prostate cancer. Just a few months after this, Clive was diagnosed with the same disease, but thankfully has been treated successfully.
“Everyone thought all this would be too much to bear but, in testimony to his true strength of character, JC picked himself up and carried on with his life. He missed Iris and Ivan immensely and often shed tears, only to say ‘Come on JC. Pull yourself together’,” says Clive.
“Jack had lots of support from his family and friends. He had made many friends along life’s way and always valued his many friendships.”
‘He enjoyed a good party and knees-up’
Jack and Iris moved to their retirement home in 2001 – Uvedale Court in Needham Market. Jack was involved with the residents’ committee for many years, and made lots of friends.
It was just before his 90th birthday that he took everyone by surprise when he said he wanted to move to Grimsby, to be closer to Clive and his family. “It was thought, initially, to be a pie-in-the-sky dream. But no,” says his son. “True to form, if JC said he was going to do something, then he would do it.”
Do it he did, and on July 12, 2017, he moved into his new home in an over-55s complex in Grimsby, about 10 minutes away from Clive.
Once he’d found his feet in his new surroundings it didn’t take JC long to start making new friends and making his voice heard. He got voted onto the residents’ committee, “where his views and input with his wealth of knowledge were greatly appreciated, to the point where constitutions were changed because of him.
“It didn’t take him long, either, to find his way to the communal garden room, where they hold social functions. However, after a few G&Ts and a couple of glasses of red wine it did take him a little longer to get home, with a little help from his friends.
“But that was Jack: he enjoyed fun and a good party and knees-up. Even on his 91st birthday in October last year he was up on the dance floor, showing all the residents how to party in style. Nobody on that evening would be prepared for the massive shock that was to follow.”
At the end of November Jack received a diagnosis of acute leukaemia. He was told he would need to be cared for as his illness was life-limiting – an illness his family says he fought with great courage and dignity. Clive and Ros took him into their home, to care for him in his final weeks.
Jack died peacefully on January 11.
‘He’s going to leave a huge void’
“Words that come out when people speak about Jack are about the high esteem in which they held him and what an amazing inspiration he was – a legend, and a truly respectful generous gentleman.”
Jack leaves son Clive, daughter-in-laws Ros, Lou and Annie, grandchildren Georgina, Simon, Brett, Ashley and Jonathan, and great-grandchildren – “who he loved, idolised and spoke of constantly with pride.
“When his five great-grandchildren arrived (Toby, Maggie, Isabella, Jacob and Oliver) he had his complete family and was amazed at their great wealth of knowledge.”
He also leaves his “loving sisters” Kath, Beryl and Eileen.
Clive says: “Jack’s family meant everything to him; there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them. He was very proud of them, as they were of him.
“One of his finest qualities was his patience: an inherent ability to sit and listen, to absorb and then offer a point of view based on his quiet, measured wisdom.
“It’s going to be difficult for everyone not having him around. JC was a reassuring presence we all felt, especially during difficult times in our lives. He’s going to leave a huge void, but he will always be loved and so sadly missed, and live on in our hearts forever.”