Death of David Pasteur (1931-2004)

David Pasteur, a member of the Association of Pasteur families, just passed away in Birmingham, UK. He was 73. He is survived by his wife, Ingrid, his four daughters, Mary, Elizabeth, Katherine and Veronica, and his son, Christopher.


IDD Alumni Newsletter, International Development Department, School of Public Policy, Birmingham, UK

It is with great sadness that we report the death of David Pasteur in December 2004. David joined what was then the Institute of Local Government Studies (which subsequently became the Development Administration Group and later the International Development Department) in 1967, and retired in 1996. Prior to joining the University he worked for twelve years in HM Overseas Service in Uganda, where he developed his interest in – and enthusiasm for – local government administration. He also met his wife, Ingrid, in Uganda. He was seconded from the University of Birmingham to the University of Malaya for four years to lecture on local government. In the late 1980s he spent 18 months on secondment to the World Bank-funded urban programme in Sri Lanka. Following his retirement he continued to be involved in the work of the department, contributing occasional lectures and accompanying field visits.

David was a very dedicated teacher with a great stock of interesting and original case-study material and exercises for his classes in local government management. The Caravan Snack Bars of Lusaka, and the Comfort Stations of Ibadan were ones that became well known. He did research on upgrading projects for urban squatter housing, and published a book on the management of the upgrading programme in Lusaka. He carried out detailed studies on local government management practices in a number of cities, notably Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

Under his somewhat gruff exterior there was a very caring nature – someone who always took enormous care with his work and for his students. Many students were welcomed into the family home at Sugarbrook Manor in Bromsgrove over the years. Students greatly valued his advice, his experience, and the time he gave to individuals. He was someone who could always be relied on to carry through a project to its satisfactory completion, as well as supporting others in their work. His influence on many whom he taught and who are now senior government officials in Africa and Asia was considerable.

In addition to his voluminous knowledge of local government management practices around the world, David was an expert lepidopterist (butterfly-collector, to you and me!), and an accomplished mountaineer – an activity that he continued with into his 70s.

For all that he was so fit and active, in November 2004 he was diagnosed with bone cancer and given a year to live. Within a month he had died – at home, with his family around him. He is survived by his wife, Ingrid, four daughters and a son, all now grown up.

We, his colleagues, mourn the passing of someone who contributed so much to the work of the department over so many years, and whose advice and teaching was appreciated by so many.

Funeral address

Given by Nick Bateman-Champain – 30th December 2004.

We are gathered here today to honour the memory of our friend David Pasteur, and to offer our abundant thanks to God for his life of Faith and Love and Service. Our hearts go out at this time to Ingrid, to her and David’s five children, their 6 – coming up 7 – grandchildren, and to David’s brother and sister, Tom and Rosia.

Inevitably funerals are sad occasions, because they are a time for saying ‘goodbye’ – so they are a time to mourn, to cry – perhaps also, like the doubting Thomas, to be puzzled by the reality of death -“Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way” – even to be angry, in this instance, at the relative suddenness and untimeliness of David’s early death. But that is all good and natural.

Yet this gathering of David’s many friends and relations is also a time of real spiritual joy, when we celebrate – yes, celebrate – all that David was, and is, to each one of us. That may all seem to be a paradox – but so is the Christian Gospel, rooted as it is in the brutal and apparently untimely death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross of Good Friday, and in his glorious Resurrection from the dead on Easter Day. That is a Gospel – a Good News item – which David and Ingrid shared so effortlessly in their separate and joint observance and ownership of the Christian faith. And we can all say ‘Alleluia’ to that.

David himself chose that inspiring hymn we have just sung, “Lord, for the Years” – and he, David, surely wants us to “bring our thanks today”; our thanks for all God has given to him and to his family and friends, and which he has shared with us in so many different ways.

Before I begin to try and say something about David, I would wish to acknowledge the input I have received from his family, from a number of his friends – and not least from David himself. If I have been less than meticulous in putting together the words that follow, you and David must forgive me.

I think I can safely say, however, that David’s full and varied life was influenced by four great passions – Butterflies, Mountains, Local Government Administration Overseas (if you can accord the word ‘passion’ to such a dry-sounding title!) – and Family; not necessarily in that order!

Back in the Forties and Fifties, David successfully – and fairly effortlessly – negotiated a public school education at Winchester, and a good degree in Classics at King’s College, Cambridge – at both establishments also proving himself a more than competent oarsman. He then joined the Overseas Civil Service as a District Officer in Uganda. He chose Uganda – or was ‘allocated’ thereto , I think, is the correct term – because his National Service had taken him there in the 4th(Uganda) Battalion of the King’s African Rifles. And it was during this time in Uganda (the 50s and 60s) that David’s passion for mountains, largely in the shape and beauty of the Ruwenzori (the Mountains of the Moon) really began to blossom. It was a passion rooted in his family genes, for his father and uncles, his grandfather and great-grandfather had all been distinguished mountaineers and members of the Alpine Club before him; it was a passion, moreover, that has passed on to his children. One of his daughters has written how “he loved to be with his family in the mountains, and we felt proud to have a father who would don his crampons and rope, and cross glaciers to reach a summit even when he was over 70”. (I’m not so sure that David would have much liked that “even over 70” bit!). In his last Christmas letter, which many of us will have received recently, David related how only this past August he “at last achieved a long-standing ambition to climb one of Scotland’s biggest Munros, Ben Avon, in the eastern Cairngorms”.

Those of us who were lucky enough to be David’s friends and colleagues were occasionally caught up not only in his passion for mountains, but also in that other great hobby of his life, Butterflies (or to give it its full scientific name, Lepidoptera). One such friend from Uganda days recalls that this was not always a pleasurable experience, for whenever he rashly agreed to use his car to assist David in one of his butterfly expeditions, he was subsequently faced with the problem of getting rid of the overpowering stench of leopard dung, obtained from the animal orphanage in Entebbe for use as bait! David amassed fine collections of butterflies from many parts of the world, but his most important and extensive collection must be the one he gathered during his time in Malaysia during the late60s/early 70s – a collection he was still classifying a few months before his death, with a view to its presentation to the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow – a fitting memorial in itself.

After leaving Uganda in about 1967 – where I should add so many of us had been in awe of David’s incredible fluency in at least two native languages (unlike us lesser mortals he never needed an interpreter), David joined the Department of Local Government Studies at Birmingham University, where he worked and served for nigh on 30 years, including a 3-4 year secondment to the University of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. During this time he travelled a great deal, mostly in Africa, specialising in international urban management, devising and running training courses, and undertaking research with the painstaking and analytical attention to detail which characterised so much of his life. All this he did with passion and dedication. He finally retired in 1996 from a lifetime of conscientious and highly respected service to men and women of many different cultures and nationalities.

But what of the fourth passion on my list – which I suspect was really his first and was certainly the most enduring – his family? Those of us who knew David as a young man were a little concerned at the time that his other passions – especially the mountains and the ‘moths’ -were diverting him from real live human passion! David was never a wildly extrovert socialiser. He himself has written in a memoir of his early life, that having undergone a male-dominated education through school and university – with National Service in between – “girls were not part of my life”. He recalls inviting a girl, who lived next door in his home village, to the King’s May Ball during his very last term at Cambridge, because he “couldn’t think of anyone else”. “It was not really a success,” he recalls dryly. A little later in those heady days in Entebbe, three of us -including David – shared Annabel, and got some fun out of her – but ‘Annabel’ was a sailing dinghy! And during the same period, a very senior colleague had a gorgeous vibrant Danish au-pair girl called Charlotte – who was allegedly guaranteed to switch on any normal bachelor deprived of female company; David was invited to dinner there, ate most of Charlotte’s box of chocolates after the meal, and promptly fell asleep!

But a young teacher called Ingrid was lurking elsewhere in the Uganda bush – and she didn’t have any chocolates! As those us who were fortunate to be at David and Ingrid’s 40th Wedding Anniversary party just a year ago (and many others besides) can testify – the rest is history!

On being asked to give this address I asked each of David’s five children to write a single sentence about their father – they didn’t all strictly comply with the single sentence condition, and I’ve already quoted from one of the five, but this is an amalgam of what the other four wrote:

“Walking with Dad was great – he seemed to know so much about so many things, and I loved to see him laugh. I will miss most the times together in the garden at Sugarbrook, the family home which he lovingly maintained for us all to return to and to enjoy – talking about the projects we were doing, and of the past and the future. And I loved smelling the different roses as he named them -as for the fruit puddings, Dad’s summer pudding was unsurpassed!” So who needs chocolates?? What a heart-warming picture of a loving and supportive family that conjures up – what memories you will all have of your family home of 32 years at Sugarbrook – what thanks you have to offer continually for so many years of family love, undergirded by God’s love, which has in the words of that hymn “kept and guided you, urged and inspired you, cheered you on your way”. We join you, and your wonderful mother, in those thanks – although not necessarily in all the memories.

To conclude what I’m certain has been an incomplete resume of David’s life and passions, I can do no better than quote some words written by a close mutual friend: – “David was one of the most focussed men one could meet; to be taken on his own terms, a man of great integrity, short on prejudice, long on family commitment, intellectually bright, of a deep religious faith, totally disinterested in social trappings. It was a privilege to have known him.” We can all, I’m sure, relate to that.

I shall end, if I may, with a short prayer: “And so, Lord, we commend David’s soul to You, in sure and certain hope of his and our Resurrection to eternal life, and with our abundant thanks for his earthly life, his love and his friendship”. Amen. Alleluia!

Leave a Reply