John Arthur Barton Townley (H 56-60) 1942-2020

The OS Club is sad to announce that John Townley passed away on 22nd October 2020, aged 78.

Please see an obituary below from Bill Graham (H 56-61).

John arrived at Sedbergh, from Trearddur House School, Anglesey, in May 1956. In Hart House John joined, Chris Metcalfe-Gibson, Johnny Gairdner and me, Bill Graham. John and I had known each other since the late 40s due to regular Townley/Graham family meetings. John moved up through the classes doing 20th Century History, Art and latterly Economics. However, during this time John also showed his developing sporting prowess, (he had been a formidable pugilist at Trearddur House School) played fives regularly with his friends and for the house, and made good use of his deft footwork in the Hart House yard soccer tournament. Similarly, John’s ability on the cricket pitch was also noticed, soon making the house 1st Cricket XI and in 1959/60 regularly batted in the school 1st X1, with the post season reports stating ‘Townley showed distinct promise as a batsman’. He was a house prefect for his last two terms.

John left Sedbergh at the end of the 1960 winter term, spent two terms at Freiberg University, then went up to Downing College, Cambridge, where he read Modern and Medieval Languages. John’s time at Downing is well described in his Downing College obituary, by his good friend there, Robert Chaston.

Times and family situations changed and John had to leave Downing before he could sit his final year exams. He joined the family motor business working in various parts of the country, including Altrincham, where when climbing a drainpipe to access his locked flat, he fell from the third floor, was knocked out, suffered a punctured lung, amongst other injuries, and spent six months in hospital.

“Hail fellow well met” is a somewhat archaic English idiom referring to a ‘person whose behaviour is hearty, friendly and congenial’ in the affirmative sense. John was all of these, as those who met him at Sedbergh, Downing, Toronto and New York soon discovered. In 1969, with this approach to life, realising that he needed a fresh start, John set off for Canada and Toronto with just a few dollars in his pocket. Two interviews and two job offers got him a place with Harris and Partners, an elite investment firm, subsequently taken over by the Royal Bank of Canada. The RBC enabled John to finish his degree by distance at The University of Toronto and they also sent him on weekend courses at Northwestern University to take an MBA.

In 1970 John met and married Mary Leppard. In 1980, the Royal Bank of Canada moved them, with children John, William and Chrissy, to New York. In 1984 John was moved again by the RBC, to London, joined three months later by Mary and the children. There he worked with Orion Royal, subsidiary of the RBC. Subsequently, John joined Merrill Lynch, an American investment division of the Bank of America.

Even after moving to London, John made the most of return visits to Canada. Whilst in London he enjoyed days watching cricket at Lords and time at The Carlton and Hurlingham Clubs. Unfortunately, John developed pancreatic cancer and after a brief fight passed away on October 22nd 2020.

Hail fellow well met and farewell.