Geoff Chamberlain obituary

Other lives: Liberal Democrat councillor in east Devon who was dedicated to his local community

My father, Geoff Chamberlain, who has died aged 92, was a newspaper sales representative for much of his career and latterly a Liberal Democrat councillor in east Devon.

He was first elected as a local councillor in 1980. It was the community, rather than a political vision, that he wanted to serve, and he was consistently re-elected over a 40-year political career, becoming leader of the East Devon Liberal Democrats in 2008.

In the local elections of 2011, when countrywide the Lib Dems were punished for entering the Tory-led coalition, his group increased their vote and number of seats. He continued to serve on East Devon district council until his 91st year.

Geoff was born into a working-class family in Catford, south London. He left school at 13, when the second world war broke out, and later in the conflict joined the West Kent Regiment. As a glider pilot he ferried troops into postwar Germany and gained a respect and liking for the country.

Once demobbed he worked for the publishing company Odhams Press as a sales representative, and when Odhams was absorbed into the Mirror newspaper group, he continued with his new employers, moving to Swansea in 1958 as an area sales representative for the Sunday People.

He had married Jill Lucraft in 1950. In Swansea, which had been badly bombed, they furnished a modern comfortable home with their young family on a lush green new estate. In 1969 he became an area sales manager in Devon until, a decade later, he was made redundant.

In Devon his marriage came to an end. In 1979, after he and Jill had divorced, he met Lorna Mitchell, who became his second wife.

Aged 60, Geoff also became an active Liberal Democrat. In 1996 he became the first mayor of Exmouth, a post he held for two years. It was thanks to his efforts that in 1985 Exmouth had become twinned with the German town of Langerwehe, a move that betokened his continued affection for Germany and its people.

He is survived by Lorna and by his children from his first marriage, Richard and me.

Lesley Chamberlain

The GuardianTramp

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