Canon David Partridge obituary

Other lives: Anglican priest who was a committed peace campaigner

My brother, David Partridge, who has died aged 81, was a respected pastor, peace campaigner and interfaith builder of bridges. He was rector of Warblington with Emsworth in Hampshire for 32 years, but his influence was felt much further afield.

A regular letter writer to the Guardian and a BBC religious broadcaster, David gained a national profile by his decision after the sinking of the Belgrano in 1982 to pray for the families on both sides and resign from his position as chaplain to the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth. From then on, he committed himself to peace campaigns and especially to Clergy Against Nuclear Arms.

An erudite man, reading and writing in Latin and Greek into his last year, he was also a man of parables, as is most obvious in his book, The Green Seagull (1995), dedicated to those who “find themselves square pegs in round holes or round pegs in square ones”.

He was always reaching out to those who felt on the outside and inviting them in and so naturally supported controversial causes such as that of the Vietnamese refugees on Thorney Island, the Corrymeela project in Northern Ireland or a mosque’s request to broadcast the call to prayer in Oxford. His courage to stay true to his convictions even under fire has been noted by friends and foes alike.

Son of John Partridge, a businessman, and his wife, Madeleine, David was born and went to school in Bristol, did national service in the Royal Marines and studied history at Balliol College, Oxford, in the late 1950s. He then did his theological training at Westcott House in Cambridge. He married Susan Cooper in 1961 and entered the ministry the next year as a curate in Bolton. In 1965, he moved to St Martin-in-the-Fields to work under his mentor, Austen Williams.

In Hampshire, he served as a canon of Portsmouth Cathedral and was a pillar of the Portsmouth Housing Association. Although he was nicknamed the Whirlwind Vicar for his habit of arriving “just in time” at the crematorium, his pastoring was never rushed.

After his retirement in 2001, he became active in interfaith work in Oxford, which included the creation of the Oxford Council of Faiths. His legacy lives on in the peace plaque in Bonn Square unveiled on UN Peace Day 2010 and in the annual Oxford Interfaith Walk.

David is survived by Sue, and their three sons, Andrew, Jeremy and Edward, six grandchildren, and by his sisters, Clare and Alison, and me.

James Partridge

The GuardianTramp

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