Ronnie Noble obituary

Other lives: Maintenance man who loved nature and Jacques Tati

My father, Ronnie Noble, who has died aged 84, was a removal and maintenance man for most of his working life. His gift was that he was able to live each day in a gentle, compassionate way, full of joy in nature, comedy, children, walking and the theatre.

Born in Hackney, east London, he was the son of Violet (nee Pugh), a cleaner, and Albert Noble, a stoker. He grew up in a terrace house with his parents, sisters, brothers, nephews, nieces and the odd canary.

Going to a local secondary modern school meant that, like many of his peers, he was not given the educational opportunities that his curious mind deserved.

For more than 30 years he worked for the Ministry of Defence and the government Property Services Agency in the city of London.

He met Barbara Pope at a dance and they married in 1962. Three years later they had me. They were both determined that all the doors should be open to me that were firmly shut for them.

Ronnie’s successes should not be measured in medals, awards, great deeds or career achievements, but in the loving relationships that he built. A Laurel and Hardy and Jacques Tati fan, he saw the absurdity in everything around him. An instinctive socialist, he was puzzled and amazed by life – not least the nonsensical nature of war, poverty and injustice. He was a lifelong Guardian reader; no page went unread.

In 1993 he was made redundant when the Property Services Agency was privatised. He did temporary work for a year and then retired.

During his working life Ronnie was exposed to asbestos. Like 2,500 people in the UK each year he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He lived his last year with increasing difficulty, but without the anger that his exposure to this disease inspired in the rest of us. The UK has the worst asbestos related illness statistics in Europe.

He is survived by Barbara, me, his granddaughter, Edie, and five nephews and nieces.

Carol Noble

The GuardianTramp

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