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Framlingham: Tributes paid to leading businessman

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 September 2011

Geoffrey Clarke

Geoffrey Clarke

Archant

A FAMILY has paid tribute to a leading figure in the agricultural world who has died aged 93.

Respected businessman Geoffrey Clarke died peacefully at his home in Cretingham on Monday.

Born in 1917, Mr Clarke entered the family grain merchants business E G Clarke & Son in Framlingham in 1933.

He married in 1940 and spent his entire life living in the Framlingham area apart from the war years when he became a prisoner of the Japanese, as did the whole of the 4th Suffolk Regiment, in the disastrous fall of Singapore in 1942.

Having survived the horrors of the infamous Death Railway, he returned home to meet his three-and-half year old son, Geoff, who was born three months after the regiment had sailed.

Rejoining the family firm, Mr Clarke became a prominent and respected barley merchant in the days when buying took place at Corn Exchanges throughout the county.

Trade was based entirely upon expertise in looking at samples shown and a handshake given. Clarkes of Framlingham became one of the foremost suppliers of Malting Barley to major breweries involving constant travel to sell in the north of England, Scotland and Ireland.

In 1969, the family firm having been sold to Bibbys of Liverpool, Mr Clarke commenced trading on his own account as Geoffrey Clarke (Grain) Company in Framlingham and continued his personal and trusted trading throughout the country.

Mr Clarke was a keen sportsman and countryman, and was one of the best game shots that the county has ever produced. His love of game shooting prevailed over 80 years – he had his last day out aged 91 and his enthusiasm and interest in all sport continued to the time of his death.

Mr Clarke’s first wife Elizabeth, with whom he had four children, died in 1987 and his second wife Joan in 2007.

His daughter Katherine died in 1997. His sons Geoff, Tony and Christopher all live in Suffolk.

Christopher Clarke, a founding partner of Clarke and Simpson estate agents and chartered surveyors, said: “He lived through a terrible event in our history and then had a wonderful, varied and long life.

“He was a man of his word, a great family man and a friend to many of all ages. We will miss him.”

There will be a service of thanksgiving to celebrate Mr Clarke’s long life at St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, on Friday, October 7 at 2.30pm.

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