Life principles of venerable Reg would benefit us all
YOU do not have to have been an outstanding statesman, an Olympic champion, an iconic arts performer or a literary genius to be hailed as a great person.
Reg Dean did not fall into any of these categories – though the quality of his singing might have made him a contender in the field of music had his life taken a different course.
But he was a great man – indisputably.
His national fame stemmed from his status as Britain's oldest man, the honour he held until his weekend death at the age of 110.
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Yet, even if he had fallen 25 years short of that, his reputation as a hugely influential figure in the lives of so many Derbyshire folk would have been guaranteed.
"Sad but extremely proud" is how his son, Chris, described the family's feelings.
If he will permit us taking the liberty of hijacking his emotions, they are the sentiments with which all of Derbyshire should share.
Reg Dean touched many lives. He said the most enjoyable period of his working life was the 10 years he spent teaching English and drama to thousands of pupils at Herbert Strutt School in Belper.
Some of those would also have benefited from his ministry at the United Reformed Church in both Wirksworth and Belper.
That spell for his church followed on from his Second World War work as an Army chaplain in the Far East, for which others were thankful and from which he was merely grateful to escape with his life from the advancing Japanese in Burma.
In the field of music, he was a founder member of the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir, for which, until just the last couple of years, he was a "superb baritone", according to fellow choristers.
Even when no longer able to take the stage, he continued as life president and, characteristically, was never shy of offering a critical assessment of a practice or performance.
Less well known was his significance in Derby's drama history as a founder member of the Little Theatre, which became the Derby Playhouse.
You do not necessarily need to be a devout Christian to benefit from following Reg's life creeds.
There is scarcely a press story, among the many written about him, that does not refer to the twin bastions of laughter and love in his life.
He was in no doubt about why he had so enjoyed his years – and maybe this was why there were so many of them:
"Love people"; "do things for joy and not prize"; "always search for the best in people"; and "don't forget there is always more goodness than evil".
There ought to be some kind of lasting memorial to Reg, maybe an annual concert.
But, whether or not that happens, he will never be forgotten.