Geoffrey Stone 1931 -2005
Geoffrey was born in 1931 in Kings Langley, where he and his younger brother Raymond, were sons of the village policeman. As a child and teenager he was ill for several years with tuberculosis of the lungs, missing much schooling. During this time he taught himself to paint from his bed, - copying covers of Country Life and beginning his lifelong interest in butterflies.
At 14 he left Kings Langley School (he had been ill at the time of both the11+ and 13+ Technical School examinations) to work in local factories and then at Tring Natural History Museum. By night he attended five evening classes a week to matriculate, and taught himself several languages including Latin and Greek. At 28 he gained a degree in Zoology and Botany, studying mostly in his own time. He became a qualified lab technician and worked at Colindale on the polio vaccine, later moving to the Watford Pathology Lab and the Lister Institute. He loved attending meetings of the Royal Society and read New Scientist journal throughout his life. His parents both died young and Geoffrey continued to live as a well known character in Kings Langley.
Geoffrey was always an admirer of the 18th Century poet William Cowper and when visiting his museum in 1964 he got into conversation with its curator who mentioned that he had a daughter living in London. Geoffrey asked whether he could write to her. A few hours after meeting Ann, he made a proposal of marriage. Two weeks later they married at Cowper's Church, Olney, Buckinghamshire. At the wedding they sang Cowper's hymn "God moves in a Mysterious Way'. In May 2004, Ann and Geoffrey were able to celebrate their 40th Ruby Wedding Anniversary.
Geoffrey lectured in science for 23 years at Dacorum Further Education College, Hemel Hempstead. As a friend said: "You could always tell which was Geoffrey's classroom by the gales of laughter coming from it". During this period he also became a professional artist, first showing local scenes of the Grand Union Canal and later exhibiting in London and Edinburgh. During his lifetime he painted many subjects, particularly landscapes near to when he lived also of London (often depictions of the Edwardian era) and later Scotland and Devon. Geoffrey's spirit, found in his paintings, endures in numerous houses across the country. He himself thought that his paintings of Kings Langley canal scenes were some of his best work. They do indeed incorporate stunning atmospheric effects transforming local familiar scenes by means of reflective surfaces, silhouettes, snow or lamplight and often enlivened by people and horses.While this society does have an extensive collection of monochrome photos, it is Geoffrey's colourful paintings, evoking an intimate portayal of times past, that are his unique and personal lasting legacy.
Upon retirement he and Ann first lived in the Scottish Highlands and later in Devon where he found the unspoiled countryside that he loved as a boy in Hertfordshire; the wild flowers growing in the meadows, the butterflies that came to life each spring and the turning colours of autumn woodlands. He loved all animals and plants without exception. He loved listening to music and could often be heard singing loudly in his studio! Each day he would take Morag the Scottie dog to the moor, work on the garden or provide homemade soup for family and friends. It was in Devon that he also became an enthusiastic teacher once again - this time passing on his skills as an artist to many art societies and to a regular art group in Newton Abbot. In his last two years he began a poetry writing group producing many fine poems. To those who took part, his laughter and knowledge have been sadly missed since he died.
Geoffrey and Ann have three sons, Ben, Daniel and Jon and four grandsons. He was a devoted caring husband, father and grandfather and his family will forever be grateful for his continued love. and support.An artist, a scientist, a man of strong faith and deep learning, he was wise and generous. A man of wit and humour - a light-hearted spirit. He changed many people's lives as a teacher and as a friend and those who met him felt the better for having known him.
This tribute and small reproductions of a selection of Geoffrey's remarkable paintings of local scenes are published by kind permission of Ann Stone. Ann is an accomplished artist in her own right, well known for her paintings of tropical South America.
In September 2002 Geoffrey gave a most entertaining talk to this Society which was recorded. Geoffrey related tales of his early life in the village describing himself as totally Kings Langley. This Society has recently acquired one of Geoffrey's paintings of All Saints Church.