My mother-in-law, Doreen Kenyon, who has died aged 98, was a teacher at the same primary school near Liverpool for 24 years until her retirement. Initially a housewife, she had moved into teaching after the early death of her husband, and throughout her subsequent life showed what it is to live graciously and independently.
Doreen was born in Liverpool to Ethel Appleton, a milliner, and her husband, Percy Harrison, a local government officer. After attending the Blackburne House girls’ school in Liverpool she worked during the end of the second world war at the Royal Ordnance factory in Kirkby, where she met Frank Kenyon, an electrical draftsman whom she married in 1944.
Settling down to bring up a young family, her world was turned upside down when Frank died of cancer in 1953. However, showing great resilience and self belief, Doreen trained to be a teacher at Manchester Training College (1955-57) and was appointed in 1957 as a reception class teacher at Lambshear Lane primary school in the village of Lydiate just outside Liverpool, where she taught all the way through until her retirement at the age of 60 in 1981.
Thereafter she played the organ at St Peter’s church in Maghull, supported the Melling Tithebarn Arts Association (becoming its president for life) and travelled frequently, including to the Canadian Rockies and around western Europe. She was still driving a car until the age of 96.
Doreen’s extraordinary memory and orderly mind enabled her to write meticulous diaries, chronicles, hilarious poems, lyrics, letters, cards and mementoes, all of which have left her descendants with a rich archive of material. She loved the written word and near the end was still completing the cryptic crosswords in her newspaper every day.
In her presence, her simple kindness and curiosity ensured you were to her the most important person in the room. She would delightedly remind you of previous encounters, what you wore, what you said, and the names of your family members.
During the recent Covid-19 crisis she maintained daily contact with her family by learning to use video calls. Each morning she descended in an elegant dress, matching jewellery or silk scarf, made up and properly coiffed. On her last night she remembered to put on her night cream.
She is survived by her daughter, Judy, and son, Peter, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.