The Eulogy given by ‘Paddy’ Kilmartin’s son Jonathan
They say you shouldn’t begin a eulogy unless you know you can finish it. I am afraid I am breaking this rule today – so if we can, together, balance any tears with smiles we may just have a chance.
Indeed, Dad was a brilliant orator, where tears and smiles were the typical audience reaction whenever he delivered even the briefest of speeches – although the tears of course being ones of uncontrollable laughter. I remember watching in awe, on countless occasions, as Dad captivated an audience with his unique blend of humour and, in many cases, sincerity — he was brilliant at achieving this balance. Nowhere was this more evident than when he gave, what was to be his final speech, at the lovely wedding of our step-sister Anabelle to her husband Joe, about 6 months into his terminal diagnosis. Having the honour of giving Anabelle away, Dad showed incredible mental and physical fortitude in the midst of aggressive chemotherapy to bring the house down one last time. I will never forget that final speech — it was, quite simply, remarkable.
Dad was an exceptional businessman – it’s easier for me to see this now than when I was younger. Having joined Exxon/Esso as a graduate, he climbed the ranks of the company whilst also, let’s say, “actively contributing” to London’s vibrant social scene of the early 1970’s. Driving a convertible sports car, with long hair and inexcusable sideburns flowing in the wind, Dad made the streets of the West-End his own. Of course, many of the stories during this period are priceless yet maybe not entirely suitable for this occasion — I can see him mischievously chuckling right now at the prospect of me telling them!
Dad then moved into management positions within Esso to Scotland, then Ireland and then back to London where he continued to excel. Although hugely enjoying his time at Esso, Dad then took the risk of joining a far smaller energy business called Flogas as CEO — he wanted to put his own identity on a company. During the following 20 years Flogas grew 20x its original size in revenue. Dad became a Director of parent company DCC, a FTSE 100 company, and held Presidential positions at major national and continental industry bodies. However, on speaking to him towards the end of his life it became very apparent that it was not the success of the business that gave him most satisfaction, but actually the success of its people — Dad wanted the people he employed and managed to grow as individuals. It is this sense of pride in the team he saw develop during his time at Flogas that very evidently stayed with him until the end. Dad was a brilliant leader.
Dad was a loving father. Born in 1946, to parents John and Elizabeth, in Bristol, Dad himself enjoyed a childhood worthy of Enid Blyton, full of adventure, mischief and humour in the picturesque Somerset village of Flax Bourton aside his beloved brothers Keith and Buster. After leaving Queen Elizabeth Hospital School in Bristol, having won an academic scholarship and captaining the 1st 15 rugby and judo teams (2 years in a row – which we weren’t to forget!), Dad completed his University degree at London School of Economics. It was an idyllic upbringing, full of hilarious stories which Lucy, Chris and I always enjoyed listening to, typically over the dinner table during Sunday lunch. Both Dad and our beloved mother Terri, made our own upbringing equally special. Dad would spend the entire weekend in the car taking us to various sporting exploits from Rugby, Hockey, Tennis, Go-Karting, Horseriding, Cricket, Athletics, Golf…the list goes on. Indeed, Dad was the extremely proud winner of the 2002 supporter of the year for Stamford School 1st 15 rugby team despite vehemently disagreeing with every refereeing decision and distracting most of the other watching parents with dirty jokes for the entirety of the season — but he was there for every match — home or away -rain or shine. Of course, he loved nothing more than making his family laugh or, perhaps more accurately, making his children melt into a state of total embarrassment. As hormonal teenagers Dad would frequently drive us to our sport commitments on a Saturday and then into town that evening for the typical drinking related festivities. Everything would be fine, in fact we used to quite enjoy riding in Dad’s flashy car to be dropped off in front our teammates or the latest girl we were trying to impress…………….until we left the car that is. As we exited the car and walked away, we would wait with trepidation – praying not to hear the electric buzz of the passenger seat window going down behind us. Of course, it inevitably did, and this would be followed with a loud bellow of “Chris!! Jon!! Kiss? Kiss? Come onnnn Kiss?” Not a good look in front of the 1st XV rugby team or the latest girl you fancied — our walk would quickly turn to a jog and Dad would giggle his way home. On holiday Dad would always make a 1 or 2 week getaway unforgettable. Whether it be delivering impossibly thick crab sandwiches to the beach in Norfolk on a daily basis, or publicly reenacting scenes from the film Titanic in a Madeiran Cocktail bar as soon as the live band began playing a (typically horrendous) cover of the theme music or being miraculously struck on the stomach two times in succession whilst quietly reading on a beach in the Isles of Scilly by a rogue boomerang, Dad simply created memories for those around him, and particularly his children. He was a loving, dedicated, generous and immensely proud father.
Lucy and Chris, the support you provided dad over the last 3 years from a medical, emotional and physical perspective was inspirational. Whether it be Lucy’s constant monitoring and management of medical treatment to Chris’s strength lifting Dad into the car for his final journey to the hospice, from beginning to end, Dad was so proud of you.
Dad didn’t suffer fools — he always expected certain standards and etiquette to be upheld. Now this is an extremely useful trait when running a business or even dressing oneself (Dad was always immaculately presented) but slightly less useful to those accompanying Dad to any restaurant. Complaints regarding the service and/or food were commonplace (my particular favorite being asking the waiter to lead him into the restaurant kitchen to check the roast beef he was about to order was rare enough), however this wasn’t due to irrational irritation but rather a high expectation of standards that perhaps we should all possess from time to time. Of course, this did not make it easy to be with Dad in such circumstances as dearest Jane will attest to! Indeed, we all developed well-honed distraction tactics to divert Dad’s attention away from the waiter that was running late with the food — Dad tell us about Admiral Nelson, what do you think of Brexit, tell us about when you used to go drinking with Billy Connolly.
Of course, petrol was thrown on the proverbial fire when someone showed Dad the wonders of TripAdvisor….every restaurant and hotel in the South West of England now quake in their boots when they see the name Kilmartin on the reservation list.
Dad found his perfect companion — On talking with Dad numerous times over the years it was clear that he had an ‘end¬game’ in mind, a way in which he dreamed of living out his twilight years. Top of the list were: living in Devon, owning a boat, enjoying his passion of cooking (and even bigger passion of cooking huge amounts of delicious food for others!) but, most importantly, finding his perfect companion whom he would love with all of his heart until the end of his life. In Jane he found it. Jane you were the indestructible glue that held his dream together, holding strong through immeasurably hard times, until Dad’s final breath. By the end of his fight, Dad was in the 1% of individuals that lasted as long as he did with his diagnosis. Jane you gave him this energy, you gave him something so precious to fight for right until his peaceful end. You, quite simply, are an inspirational woman and one we are incredibly thankful and proud to call our step-mother. Dad also loved being part of the Rogers, and of course Pike, families and we will be forever grateful for the love and support provided by each and every member during the last three years — we cannot thank you enough.
Dad, a pretty strong innings if you ask me. An exhilarating 72, played with flair, leadership, love and humour — pushing boundaries at any opportunity and keeping every spectator on the edge of their seat. On two occasions you even bowled a beautiful maiden over. For now, I’m still at the crease, trying to remember all you taught me out in the middle. When my wicket falls, it won’t be so bad, as I’ll see you in the pavilion for tea. x