A firefighting hero given a fire engine escort at his funeral, accepted into the Catholic Church by a senior official to the Pope and a former navy man.
These are just some of the things that can be said about a true giant of Wem, Terence Michael Dee, who was known to fire service colleagues as ‘Mick’, who died recently aged 82.
At his funeral last week, the former fire officer – who was married to Shropshire councillor Pauline Dee – was a given an escort by Wem’s fire engine with the Shropshire Chief Fire Officer and Wem mayor Councillor Edward Towers also in attendance.
His son, Julian, remembers a man who stood up for what he believed in, saw the world as a member of the navy and served a prominent in Wem life.
“He was brought up in Bicton, near Shrewsbury, the oldest of four children born to Samuel and Minnie Dee,” said Julian.
“He served in the Royal Navy from 1953 to 1960, including HMS Ark Royal, and in 1958, Dad was received into the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican, by Pope Pius XII’s Vicar General, Bishop van Lierde.
“An Ark Royal chaplain arranged this through the Vatican’s ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’, Monseigneur Hugh O’Flaherty.
“The Monseigneur had hidden escaped Allied POWs and Jewish people during the Nazi occupation of Rome.
“In 1962 while in Bournemouth Fire Brigade, he married Mum. In 1965 he was an assistant instructor at Home Office Fire Service Technical College, before moving back to Shropshire in 1966.
“Mum and Dad moved to Wem in 1976 with their four children and here he led the organisation of Wem’s tercentenary commemoration of the Great Fire of Wem in March 1977.
“He forged a strong bond with his colleagues – responding to fires or road traffic accidents and pulling the odd cow out of a ditch.
“He was thought to be perhaps the only Shropshire fire officer to join the winter 1977 firemen’s strike. He retired in 1989.”
In retirement, Terry became very active in everyday Wem life, including serving as chairman of the Wem Society in the mid-1980s. He also supported Shropshire-wide groups improving the built environment, serving for a time as Vice Chairman of the Shropshire Building Preservation Trust.
Nearer to home, he was a former treasurer of Wem Army Cadets and Wem Christian Aid.
Julian added that his dad was active in the church and supported Pauline’s work as a councillor.
He said: “A parishioner at Wem’s Catholic Church since 1976, he was active in prayer groups in the Shrewsbury Catholic Diocese from 1995. For 30 years or more, he was a supporter of the Bible Society.
“Mum became Wem’s first woman mayor in 1985-86 and he supported her three mayoral terms, as consort.
“Appropriately for a former chairman of Churches Together in Wem, his funeral at Wem Parish Church was led by Fr. Patrick English (Wem Catholic Church) with the Rector of Wem, Revd. Nick Heron, who graciously hosted the service.
“Donations totalling around £900 were taken at the service, for Parkinson’s UK and CAFOD.”
He leaves behind his wife, their four children and nine grandchildren.
See full story in the Whitchurch Herald