Oldest man 'worked for others'
Britain's oldest man who has died aged 110 years and 63 days has been praised as "a good man" who worked to benefit others, his son has said.
Reg Dean, a former minister, died on Saturday in Wirksworth in Derbyshire at the Waltham House assisted living apartment where he had resided for the past seven years. His son Christopher Dean said his father had only ever wanted "to make a difference" to the lives of people less fortunate than himself.
Mr Dean was heavily involved in charity work throughout his life and completed a sponsored walk from Nottingham to Derby at the age of 90. Later, he set up a Fairtrade store in his downstairs lounge, when he still lived at home, calling the franchise Traidcraft - it became Traid Links and continues to successfully operate in Wirksworth to this day.
In the 1980s he set up the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir in Derbyshire, and in a joint celebration of their 25th anniversary and his 110th birthday and position as their life president last year, they donated a cheque to charity helping people in Africa in his honour.
Mr Dean's son said his father had told him he had no fear at the prospect of his death. He said: "He told me he wasn't at all scared. He said to me once 'I am living under a sentence of death - but I intend to take a long time about it'."
Born in the Potteries in Tunstall in Staffordshire on November 4, 1902, Mr Dean would live to witness 24 British prime ministers and survive two World Wars.
He served as an Army chaplain in Burma in the Far East in the Second World War, telling his son he remembered at one point being surrounded by the Japanese and taunted by them. "They were saying 'Johnny - we will come and kill you tomorrow' and so he spent the evening in prayer. The next morning the Japanese had disappeared, they never knew where to."
A man of God, he returned from the war and ministered in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, then in 1947 moved to Derbyshire where he was the minister for three churches, including the parish of Wirksworth.
In 1958 he became a teacher at Herbert Strutt School in Belper, Derbyshire, where he worked for 10 years. He was also a founder member of the Derby Playhouse Theatre in the 1950s. He was a minister with both the Church of England and later the United Reform Church, only retiring at the age of 80.
Mr Dean became Britain's oldest man in June 2010 after the death of Stanley Lucas, aged 110, of Cornwall. He is survived, from his second marriage to wife Yvonne, by his son 62-year-old Christopher, band leader with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, and grandsons Matthew Dean, 27, and Oliver Dean, six.