Tributes paid to former teacher and magistrate

IPSWICH: A devoted family man and loyal friend who dedicated his life to helping thousands of people in Ipswich is today fondly remembered after losing his battle with cancer.

Described by his widow as “a large man in stature as well as heart and character,” David Smith touched the lives of others immersing himself in numerous ventures, helping children and young people.

A former teacher and magistrate, the 72-year-old of Sheldrake Drive, died last Wednesday at Ipswich Hospital surrounded by his family.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer around a year ago but despite his good health he developed secondary tumours in his brain, diagnosed around Christmas.

An Ipswich man through and through, he was born in the town, worked in the town and raised his family there.

After the tragic death of his first wife Ann Smith, a former Mayor of Ipswich from 1981 to 1982 16 years ago, Mr Smith remarried in 2001, finding love again with a friend, also called Ann.

Mr Smith started his career teaching geography and English at Landseer Road Boys School, later to become Nacton High School and Holywells High School, where he inspired thousands of students until his retirement.

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But he went above and beyond the call of duty.

He became heavily involved in the pastoral care of the students, running a youth group in Nacton Road as well as helping to run a boxing club for youngsters in the area.

Later he became a magistrate, serving the community for 25 years, specialising in family law where he further pursued his passion to help young people.

And through his work as president of the east Suffolk branch of the NSPCC for 10 years he continued to raise awareness and fundraise to combat child cruelty.

His daughter Julia Holding, who lives near Birmingham, said her father would be remembered as the “life and soul of the party,” “a great raconteur with a lightning quick wit” and “great sense of humour.”

She said: “He was the life and soul of every party, really fun. He was a very, clever man who had a remarkable knowledge, he knew lots of things about everything.

“He loved socialising with other people and was hugely supportive of other people around him.

“He was a great raconteur, with an amazing knack of telling a story.

“He could just recall them and keep people interested for hours. He was quick-witted and so funny. Even right up until the end he would still recall his stories, even when he was very poorly.”

With his new wife Ann came an expanding family, one he embraced with an infectious enthusiasm.

Mrs Baxter Smith said: “He really did touch so many lives, he was a large man in stature as well as heart and character, who made a difference to so many other people throughout his life.

“He made the most of everything in life.”

Mr Smith is survived by his wife Ann, daughters Julia Holding and Penny Jenkins and his three step-sons Robert Baxter, Pete Baxter and Stuart Baxter as well as 15 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

His funeral will be at the Unitarian Meeting House at 11.30am on Wednesday, April 21. The family have asked that instead of flowers, donations can be made to the NSPCC and St Elizabeth’s Hospice.