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John Carman


Geoff Pettitt, Chris Wickham and I (Howard Dolling) attended, on behalf of the Old Juddian Society, the funeral of our dear friend John Carman at Southend Crematorium on 8th February.  There follows the eulogy which the family had compiled to commemorate John’s life.

John Carman - 8 th September 1940 to 25 th December 2023


John Carman was a beloved husband, father, grandad, brother, uncle, and friend.
He was a war baby born on the 8 th of September 1940 in Sevenoaks, Kent and
according to family folklore the sky lit up the night he was born as London was
He was a true middle child with two older sisters Diana and Cynthia and two
younger brothers William and Richard. He had tales of barrage balloons and
sweets being rationed. There were go carts and broken arms and games of
cowboys and Indians and he had a lifelong interest in the World War II era. He
was always interested in the welfare and happenings in ‘the family,’ as he
referred to it in a ‘don’ like fashion.
His family or ‘the family’ were very important to him and he tried hard to keep
up with everyone, he held a deep love and affection for his mother Violet. He
was a devoted Grandad to Ethan, who was the absolute pride and joy of his later
Marisa, Emilia, and Brian have been overwhelmed by the many kind words
about John when people heard the news that he had died – it has been very
moving to hear the affection he has been held in. The words most used were
clever, funny, and kind. He was a loyal friend and kept in touch with people
from throughout his life.
He was the archetypal grammar school boy, his intelligence winning him a place
and the Judd School in Tonbridge where he developed lifelong friendships and a
love of Rugby – cricket was already ingrained by then and another passion. He
kept in touch with the school through the Old Juddian Society and followed the
fortunes of the rugby team until he was no longer able, thanks to the wonderful
Old Juddian Society we have pictures and school reports and the surprising
news that he was captain of the sixth form tennis team!
His adventures continued at Leeds University where I believe he discovered a
love of Beethoven, drinking bitter and had a wonderful time studying
engineering and yet more rugby. Then there was then time spent in London in
the swinging sixties with rumours of – living next door / upstairs / on the same
street as – The Rolling Stones. It was there that he met and married Marisa, his
wife of over 55 years, she, and her mother Fosca lived in the downstairs flat of
the building he lived in. He often said how lucky he was to have met her and
how his life would have been much less happy without her by his side.

He then - apparently without asking her – took a job in Zambia helping to set up
a technical college. He spent over six happy years there. He often reflected on
how much that decision added to his life and what a fluke it was, given he was
not naturally a risk taker. Young enough not to know any better was his
conclusion. Africa remained a big part of his life providing him with life-long
friendships and pride that he helped establish the Zambian Institute of
Technology (ZIT!), which is still in existence, now called the Copperbelt
He came back to the UK and resumed is career in higher education, playing
cricket for the Chevening Amblers and according to his brother Rick was a
‘feared Fred Truman like bowler.’ He also endured the emotional rollercoaster
of being a life-long Charlton Athletic fan, helping the club buy back its ground
The Valley after years without one. After retiring early, he spent many happy
years travelling the world with Marisa, visiting friends far and wide in Canada,
New Zealand, Germany, and Australia. They had many wonderful times at the
Villa in the South of France and then there were the cruises too numerous to
As well and sport, Marisa, travelling and ‘the family’ he loved food and
company - most of all making people laugh and laughing himself. He decided
he preferred restaurants at lunch rather than the more formal dinner because it
was more relaxed, and you were not rushed. He often recalled the many places
they travelled to by a particular meal - a restaurant overlooking the sea was his
favourite. In fact, his last trip to Florence (where Marisa was born) was in large
part motivated not by the renaissance, art or the beauty of the city or even
visiting friends and relatives but by one more chance to have an authentic
Florentine steak.
Sadly, ill health and covid and his need to shield stymied his adventures in the
last few years and his primary concern became the welfare of Marisa and the
isolation took its toll. It was hard that when restrictions were finally lifted, he
was not well enough to do too much but he did manage a few more lunches.
The family would also like to thank the many of you that made long journeys to
see him over the last year it made such an enormous difference to him and to the
friends and neighbours who have supported both John and Marisa through he
pandemic and beyond in so many acts of kindness, too numerous to mention.
John Carman is the example of a full life well lived and he will remain in our
hearts and minds forever.