Goodbye to Ipswich shark hunter

AN IPSWICH widow has paid tribute to her shark hunter husband as his funeral was due to be held today.

AN IPSWICH widow has paid tribute to her shark hunter husband as his funeral was due to be held today.

Ray Westerling was well-known in the town and featured in The Evening Star because of his incredible dedication to catching and studying sharks.

Today, his wife Mavis Westerling said: “He was absolutely wonderful.”

Mr Westerling's funeral was set to be held at St Pancras Church, Tacket Street, Ipswich, where he married Mrs Westerling 51 years ago.

Mrs Westerling said her husband dedicated 30 years of his life hunting sharks.

In his lifetime, Mr Westerling, whose nickname was Sharkey, caught hundreds of sharks, mainly in Looe in Cornwall.

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His biggest catch was a blue shark which was 8ft long and weighed 170lb.

He travelled to the Cornish coast every year until 1990 to catch sharks and on his first attempt, on holiday in 1960, he caught eight.

Mrs Westerling said that since the 1970s Ray had always let the sharks go. She said: “Ray believed he had to think about the future of sharks.

“He led a very exciting and interesting life.

“His mother used to say to him if you want to do anything in your life do it when you are young because when you get old you don't want to.”

On December 5, Mr Westerling died from a heart attack at his home in Beaufort Road. He had suffered from diabetes and a failed central nervous system for several years and was cared for by his wife.

Mr Westerling was born in Luckhnow, India, in 1930 and came to England when he was 17. He enrolled into the Navy and his first assignment was aboard the HMS Triumph, an aircraft carrier, which was the first ship to arrive in Korea during the 1950s conflict.

The couple met in Christchurch Park in 1948 and married seven years later.

Their first home was in Maidenhall Approach where they lived before moving to Beaufort Street where they lived for 40 years.

Mr Westerling also used to write for American magazines about sharks and British fishing magazines. He spent most of his working life as a warehouseman for Ransomes, Sims and Jeffries. He also had a private pilot's licence.

The funeral was due to take place at 10.30am.

N Did you know Mr Westerling and would like to pay tribute? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail