Harry Harper – keen socialist, engineer and aircraft designer

A FORMER councillor and Boeing aircraft designer has died of cancer aged 87.

Harry Harper, who flew as a pilot in South Africa during World War Two, moved to WGC in 1950.

Originally from Tottenham, Harry was a keen socialist and upon moving to Marsden Road with wife Chris he soon became very involved in local politics.

In 1963 he stood as a Labour candidate for the Howlands ward of WGC Urban District Council (as it was then), staying a councillor for a decade.

He campaigned tirelessly for the improvement and completion of Stanborough Park and was always keen to improve and increase the amenities for the younger people.

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While serving as a councillor, Harry never gave up his love of flying and engineering, often combining the two, first working for Avdells Engineering before moving to de Havilland as a designer.

His career was so successful it led him to a move to America with Boeing, as a senior designer, for four years. At Boeing he helped build the 757, which is a commercial aircraft still regularly flying today, before moving to jobs in Israel and Italy.

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A father-of-three, Harry passed on his gift and love for aviation onto his eldest son Ray, who he helped build a light aircraft with. Ray later ended up flying for British Airways, where he remains today – something his father was always “tremendously proud” of.

Harry himself had flown legendary aircraft in his youth, including the Douglas Dakota, the Hatfield-built Tiger Moth and Hornet Moth, as well as the Avro Anson and the Airspeed Oxford.

He also worked as a private flyer himself, but as much as he would have liked to fly as commercial pilot, the jobs were not available after the war.

Once retired, aged 70, the grandfather-of-seven, who lived in Poplars since 1970, travelled the world with Chris, visiting almost every state in the USA, along with many other countries including Egypt, Sweden, Russia, Finland and Canada.

Around 10 years ago he had a stroke and soon after contracted testicular cancer, which later spread to his bones.

Harry, who was married for 59 years, was cremated in Knebworth last month, where his family paid tribute to him.

“Dad touched our life in some way or another, and for that we give our thanks and blessings, for having shared a part of his life.

“We all miss him very much,” daughter July said.

At the service a total of �200 was raised for Isabel Hospice.

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