‘He was always happy and smiling’ – Family pay tribute to former Stevenage council chairman and Second World War veteran

Former Stevenage council chairman Kenneth Ellis has died at the age of 93.

Former Stevenage council chairman Kenneth Ellis has died at the age of 93. - Credit: Archant

The wife of a Second World War veteran and former Stevenage council chairman says she has been amazed by the community’s response to the news of his death.

Pat Ellis says she received 70 sympathy cards paying tribute to her husband Kenneth before his passing was publicised a week ago, and has had many more since.

Kenn, who was 93 and had been in poor health for some time, lived in Stevenage for almost all his life.

At the age of 21 he was called up to fight in the Second World War, serving in the Beds and Herts Infantry in Italy from 1943.

After the conflict ended in 1945, he was stationed in Greece fighting against ELAS terrorists, before working in the British intelligence field dealing with the capture of Nazi and Iraqi criminals.

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Kenn spent the next 50 years of his life serving his local community, sitting on a number of Stevenage Urban District Council committees and becoming chairman in 1963.

He was also a Rotarian for 13 years and governor to five Stevenage primary schools, including St Nicholas C of E which he attended.

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Paying tribute to her husband of 38 years, Pat said: “In talking about one experience in the trenches, he said the side he was on survived a bombing while the others were all killed. He was blown off the ground and lost his hearing in one side.

“He never worried about a single thing after – that was what serving in the war did to him – and he left me to do the worrying!

“The number of cards we had within days of Kenn’s death was unbelievable. It’s lovely to know he was loved by so many people.”

Grandson Max Hummerstone, 17, said: “I respected him more than I have ever respected anyone.

“Every time I saw him he was always happy and always smiling. I honestly do believe the reason he lived so long was because of the positivity he had. If there were more people like my grandpa, the world would be such a beautiful place.”

A memorial service will take place at 2pm on Wednesday at Holy Trinity Church in Stevenage. Donations can be made to RNLI Cromer, stationed near to the couple’s holiday caravan in Mundesley, and Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North – a respite charity which Pam used after becoming Kenn’s full-time carer six years ago.

Kenn is survived by wife Pat, his three children Pat, Graham and Linda, step-children Mark and Neil, eight grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

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