Laughing and joking right up to the end ... Reg Dean, Britain's oldest man at 110 and his very fulfilled life
HIS one wish was to make it to 110 or older.
And not only did Reg Dean live to reach 110 and 63 days, his longevity ensured he became the oldest man in Britain along the way.
He lived through two world wars, the moon landings, 24 British prime ministers and the dawn of the computer age.
According to his son, Chris Dean, his father partly put his longevity down to "being lazy" – but a look back at a remarkable life shows this was far from the truth.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Mr Dean, 62, said: "It was not a wasted 100 years, it was very fulfilled.
"He did a lot for other people. He really was a remarkable man."
Reg Dean was born in Tunstall, Staffordshire, on November 4, 1902.
He served as an Army chaplain in Burma during the Second World War, where he came under attack from the Japanese, and later worked as a teacher at Strutt's School, in Belper.
He lived at Waltham House care home, in Wirksworth, for seven years before passing away on Saturday.
Chris Dean, who lives in Portsmouth, said: "Obviously even though he was 110, you are never ready for this.
"I was in Dublin when he died.
"I had a message to say that he was not well but many times before had I been told this.
"This time he didn't pull through.
"Obviously I'm terribly sad that I won't get to see him again but it is also a celebration of his life.
"He reached 100 which is an amazing achievement.
"Even the day before his death he was making little jokes and laughing."
Chris Dean, who has two children, Matthew, 27, and Oliver, six, said it was not until he was in his early-30s that he really got to know his father, as his parents separated when he was younger.
"I knew him for more than 30 years, which is a lot longer than some people get with their parents," he said.
"Since he was approaching 80 I got to be close to him and get to know him as a father which was lovely.
"I used to take him out around Wirksworth. It would take us a long time and everybody knew him and would want to talk to him.
"I was very proud of him and it was nice that he was proud of me.
"I'm extremely sad but extremely proud. So many people want to know so much about him and his life.
"He saw an interesting life, it was what he did with it which made it so great.
"Even at the age of 90 he did a walk from Nottingham to Derby. Even then he said his secret to living so long was being lazy!
"He used to say things like that but, from knowing him since he was 80, I never saw him being lazy."
Chris Dean said one of the fondest memories he shared with his father was a cruise 21 years ago.
"We managed to get a cruise together when he was 89," he said.
"He travelled to Madeira and we met there.
"The last ship he went on before that was in about the 1930s on some war package ship to Bombay.
"He was thrilled to come on the ship. We had some nice times together and memories."
Reg Dean celebrated his 110th birthday at Waltham care home in November and was surprised with a performance by members of the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir, which he founded.
Chris Dean, who is band leader with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, said: "He was very very supportive of what I did. I remember doing his concert when he was 100 and he just said he wanted to make it to 110.
"Everyone took it as a joke but he made it to 110 and 63 days. It's a great celebration that he lived that long."
As a young man working in India, Reg drank a muddy-looking potion which, he was told, would help him live until he was 100.
However, his son said his father didn't dote on this as the reason for his longevity but rather had a list of four reasons.
"His secrets were always look for the best in people not the worst; the love of God whoever that god or faith may be; doing things for the kindness and not for the prize or the reward; and, lastly, being vegetarian, which he was for 30 years."
Reg Dean's former work colleague, Martin du Sautoy, who turns 72 tomorrow, taught alongside him at Herbert Strutt School in Belper.
Mr du Sautoy, of Ravensdale Road, Allestree, said: "We worked together for about eight or nine years.
"I was a teacher of English and drama and he taught classics and music.
"I remember one time when he did a performance of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde at the church in Belper.
"Reg played the voice of God and all the kids were dressed in their animal costumes. I was helping to produce it.
"The most honorous and beautiful voice of Reg Dean really made the show."
Mr du Sautoy said the last time he spoke to Mr Dean was on his 109th birthday.
He said: "I sent him a card and he actually phoned me to say thank-you.
"He really was a charismatic man."
REG Dean was born in 1902 in Tunstall, Staffordshire.
Having become a minister, he served as an Army chaplain during the Second World War, stationed in Burma.
After the war, he first settled in Stratford-on-Avon before moving to Derby in 1947 as minister of the Congregational Church, in Carlton Road, now known as the United Reformed Church.
It was during this time his love of singing and acting developed and he helped to form what was to become Derby Playhouse.
In 1958, Mr Dean became a teacher at Herbert Strutt School, in Belper, where he remained for 10 years.
Rejoining the church in 1969, Mr Dean became a minister at the United Reformed churches in Wirksworth and Matlock before retiring at the age of 80.
In the late 1980s, he helped found the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir, which practises every Monday night in the Whitemoor Centre, in Belper.
He became Britain's oldest man in June last year following the death of Stanley Lucas, 110, of Cornwall.
He died at Waltham House home, Wirksworth, on Saturday.