Tributes paid to former Letchworth councillor Keith Emsall after death aged 82

Former county council chairman Keith Emsall passed away last week at the age of 82. Picture: Herts C

Former county council chairman Keith Emsall passed away last week at the age of 82. Picture: Herts County Council - Credit: Archant

The daughters of former district and county councillor Keith Emsall have paid tribute to him, following his death last week aged 82.

Keith, who served as a Conservative on the district and county councils for 35 years, died last Tuesday following a short illness.

His daughters Nicola and Claire remember "a generous family man" who was "dedicated to public service."

Born in Manchester in 1937, Keith was "a proud, straight-talking Lancastrian," and during his national service with the RAF, worked for GCHQ as a Russian interpreter.

He then went on to work for Mobil oil company, where he met Carol, his wife of 43 years - before she passed away 14 years ago.

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Keith and Carol moved to Letchworth in 1974, where they both remained until the end of their lives.

"Keith was well-known for his great, dry sense of humour, but he always wanted to help people," Nicola said.

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"He cared passionately about doing the right thing - and particularly for children. We only discovered after he died, how many donations he was making to children's charities."

"He had a fine mind and was a passionate reader' Claire added. "Every time we open a cupboard we find another pile of books!"

Keith's civic presence in Letchworth began in 1978, when he was appointed district councillor for the Letchworth Wilbury ward - which he held until 1991.

He served as county councillor for Letchworth South from 1997 to 2013, with a term as chairman of the council from 2003 to 2005.

His strong sense of public duty went far beyond the council, however. He was heavily involved in the local church, and served as a director on the Letchworth Civic Trust, and also Groundwork East - an environmental charity dedicated to transforming communities.

Last Tuesday, following news of his death, the county flag was flown at half-mast at County Hall in Hertford.

Chairman of the council Colette Wyatt-Lowe paid tribute to Keith last week, saying: "Our hearts and thoughts go out to his family. I worked with Keith briefly at the start of my time as a county councillor.

"He was incredibly helpful and kind, and he had a wonderful sense of humour. He will be sadly missed."

Keith's funeral will be held on March 5 at 11am at St Mary's Church in Hitchin.

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