Avon's longest serving head Gerry Carey dies aged 89
A MUCH-loved Yorkshireman who moved to Bristol and became Avon's longest-serving headteacher has died aged 89 years old.
Gerry Carey was headmaster of St Bonaventure's RC Primary School in Bishopston from 1955 to 1983.
Born in 1924, he trained as a teacher at St Mary's College in Twickenham and then volunteered for the RAF where he served as navigator during the Second World War.
In 1955 Mr Carey and wife Sheila moved to Filton and he took up the post of headmaster before the couple moved to Bishopston.
It was a role at the time he was told would last just four years as pupil levels were dropping – but he remained in the role 27 years.
When the school was rebuilt under his tenure he visited Rome to pick up a blessing for the school from Pope Paul VI – the scroll still proudly hangs in the school reception today.
Former St Bonaventure's teacher Joy Rigg who worked for Mr Carey said: "My little boy used to attend the school and he discovered I was a teacher and said how it was that the girls didn't have any PE or netball.
"He asked me to do a couple of hours with them, then it became every afternoon and before I knew it I was a full-time member of staff.
"He was quite a character and as soon as we had the new school and new staff he was in his element.
"He was a good boss and was always encouraging us. Life was never dull while he was in charge.
"I suspect many people in Bristol have a tale to tell about Mr Carey."
Mr Carey was also instrumental in instigated primary school sailing with his friend Bob Searle which has grown into the RYA sailing school.
The friends, along with other staff members, even built 15 boats because the school could not afford to buy the vessels ready made.
A talented musician, Mr Carey played the organ in Church for over 64 years, first in Normanton and latterly as organist and choir master of St Bonaventure's church. He also played the organ at Horfield prison every Sunday for over 20 years.
Mr Carey also played the trombone and the tuba, and was a founder member of the Redland Wind Band.
Art was another passion and Mr Carey would often sketch colleagues and friends as well as doing watercolours of places he and Sheila would visit on their holidays.
After retiring Mr Carey and Sheila remained active and carried out voluntary work including accompanying Jumbulance trips to Lourdes, hospital visiting and church activities. They also enjoyed foreign travel and had a go at hot air ballooning to celebrate Sheila's 70th birthday.
Mr Carey succumbed to Alzheimer's in his later years but remained cheerful, chatty and delighted with life. His family say he slipped away in his sleep on the morning of February 15.
He will be greatly missed by family and friends. Mr Carey leaves Sheila, children Adrian, Helena, Eamonn and Ann; grandchildren, Mahalah, Joshua and Cate and great grandchild Tigerlily. His funeral is at St Bonaventure's Church, Egerton Road, BS7 8HP on Friday, March 8 at 12pm.