“Oldest first-time author in history” dies at 95

Jim Humphries.

Jim Humphries, who lived in Bradley Stoke and who wrote his published life story ‘Lucky Jim’ at the age of 95 – and by so doing became the oldest first time author in the world – has sadly passed away at the age of 96.

He was one of the last survivors of Britain’s greatest generation, men who volunteered to serve their country at the beginning of World War 2. He had a miraculous escape from being captured as a Prisoner of War when he managed to get on the last boat out of France to England in 1940. He called his book “Lucky Jim” because he felt he had the greatest good luck out of anyone he had ever met.

Born in 1921, he grew up in a poor working class family in Stoke on Trent. His big break came when at the age of 18 he joined the RAF and was posted soon afterwards to Bristol to help protect the city in the Bristol Blitz.

Coming from the Potteries – one of the most polluted areas in Britain – he immediately fell in love with the beauty of Bristol with its abundance of parks, flowers and trees. But most of all he fell in love with a beautiful seventeen year old girl he met at a dance in Filton called Marjorie Tucker.

He knew he’d met the love of his life. But there was a problem. Marjorie was engaged to another young man from Filton- Jimmy Mack who was serving as a navigator in the Fleet Air Arm. He didn’t want Jimmy Mack to get a Dear John letter when he was flying for his country, so – even though he was very much in love – he asked to be posted somewhere else.

He ended up in India and tried to forget about Marjorie. But he missed her so badly that after years apart, at the end of the war whilst still in India he plucked up the courage to write to her to see how she was. He imagined she would now be married to Jimmy Mack. He got a letter back saying that sadly he had been killed in action shortly before she was due to marry him, just a few weeks before the end of the war. Marjorie included a photo of herself and in that moment Jim knew that he would marry her and they fell in love all over again. He married Marjorie in St Peter’s Church, Filton on 6th September 1947.

After the war, Jim became a well-known sportsman excelling in amateur football as a high scoring left winger for Filton Old Boys and in cricket as an all-rounder for the Bohemians. What was most remarkable about him was that he continued playing sport for so long. He played his last game of football in his late fifties and his last cricket match in his late sixties. He then took up bowls, golf and ballroom dancing – which he continued into his early nineties.

Jim lost his first wife Marjorie in 1992, then his second wife Heather in 2007 – both to cancer – but he determinedly carried on living independently by himself in his bungalow in Bradley Stoke, known and loved by many in the neighbourhood for his generosity and his positive approach to life.

But with declining health, Jim experienced a number of falls recently as a result of his frailty. The fatal one came a couple of weeks ago as he stepped out of his front door to go to his car. He broke his hip and lay in agony on the drive in heavy rain until a passer-by heard his screams for help. An ambulance was called and he was taken to Southmead Hospital for an emergency operation. He never recovered and passed away four days later on Monday 7th August.

Despite this, he remained incredibly strong and cheerful to the very end. He was surrounded by his family who read extracts from his book to him on his death bed. His funeral was due to be held on Tuesday 29th August at St Peter’s Church, Filton, almost exactly 70 years ago to the day that he married Marjorie there.

Jim Humphries (l-r): RAF; Wedding to Marjorie; Dancing with second wife Heather.

From left: RAF; Wedding to Marjorie; Dancing with second wife Heather.

Jim Humphries in the local community

Jim was a long-time member of the Bradley Stoke Bowls Club – and before it the Northavon Bowls Club from 1992 onwards – and was recently made a life member. He represented the club at league level in his seventies and eighties. Even in his nineties, he still played the occasional game and went along to support the team.

He was also a regular at all the local old time and ballroom dancing groups in the area, as well as an occasional golfer at Filton Golf Course.

Many knew Jim from his days as a founder member and left winger playing for Filton Old Boys Football Club. Few could believe that until a few years ago in the summer he would play a round of golf in the morning, dance in the afternoon and then play bowls in the evening!

Steve Humphries (son)

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 34). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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