Shel Whitesman

By Peter Eastwood

When Sheldon Geoffrey Whitesman passed away in April 2015, it brought an end to a relationship that had lasted more than sixty years with never a cross word or disagreement. I met Shel at Wandsworth School and when I was Head Boy I asked him to look after the Lost Property Office. At the end of that year he handed over to the School office an amount of money that astonished them as they had never received anything like that amount before. We didn’t mention that it also funded a really memorable party at my house in Earlsfield Road!

We both became members of the National Film Theatre in the 50’s and spent many Sundays there satisfying our passion for old black and white comedy films featuring Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the like. Holidays with Sheldon to Maison Gorey in Jersey became legendary! Shel was one of the most laid back characters you could imagine, always ready with one of his store of awful jokes, many of course Jewish, and always ready to help a friend. I was privileged to have him as my Best Man at my wedding to Wendy, a task he took very seriously. On our wedding day I  remember the mad drive from Fulham chased by Chris Munton who wanted to decorate our car, before Shel ensured our safe getaway by trapping Chris in a Southfields alley. Brilliant planning!

Shel and I along with Jim Edwell and Tony Savage comprised the School Fives team for two successful years in the Marchant Cup, and for the last twelve years the four of us have met as a group with Ron White, Terry Phillps, and Duncan Livingstone for regular lunches and river trips which gave us even more happy memories of a wonderful character and great friend.

Shel also often attended the OW Rugby lunches and indeed was at the Gay Hussar lunch shortly before he passed away. He was a unique friend to me and we remained in close contact for all the long time I knew him, and I will miss the frequent long and hilarious phone calls we enjoyed. His passing is without doubt a great loss to many especially his wife Wendy, and he will be sorely missed but remembered with great affection and a smile.

(Sadly Rusty (Hugh) Thornton died on the 5th of December – our thoughts at this time are with his family.)

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