Compiled by his brothers Robert (1957-61) and Philip Suter for the Old Pauline Magazine (St Paul's School, London)
Dick was born in Uxbridge in 1937. Although he had been Christened Richard, for most of his life. he was known by his close family and friends as Dick. He had followed in his father John's footsteps by attending St. Paul's School, West Kensington, London
Both of them were boarders in Colet House, Gliddon Road, which was pulled down early in 1958, to make way for the Cromwell Road extension. So his younger brother Robert (1957-61) only had to endure the Autumn term of 1957, before moving in to School House.
Dick was put into B Club, whose President at that time was "Buster" Reed. Unlike his father, who enjoyed playing cricket, rugby and other team sports Dick preferred individual sports, such as tennis and especially, after leaving school, squash. When at prep. school, he had learnt to box and at St. Pauls, he was encouraged by Mr, Reed to enter the Green Cup, which was an inter club boxing competition and eventually went on to represent the school at boxing. In the summer term, Dick opted to row, although he was happier when he was sculling, rather being part of a crew.
He also joined the C.C.F., moving into the R.A.F. section in his final years at the school, as his father had served as a Flight Lieutenant in the R.A.F. in WW 2. A school trip to Italy had given him the desire to learn Italian and other languages and eventually, to work overseas.
After leaving St. Pauls, he went to work for Austin Reed, men's outfitters in their Fenchurch Street branch, as part of his training in retail, prior to joining the Suters family department store group, when he reached 25.
At 18, he was called up for 2 years National Service in the R.A.F., ending up at Northolt for 18 months. His last month consisted of a fire fighting course at Moreton-in-Marsh, where all the trainees were asked if any of them had passed their driving tests. The handful who had, became the drivers of the Green Goddesses for the whole month. This was apparently a much better option than working with hoses full of foam. It was fine until the hose burst, which was a regular occurrence, when those operating the nozzles etc. could get covered by this foul smelling substance.
After demobilisation, he decided to enter the world of advertising and marketing. Initially working in London for firstly Armstrong Warden and then Napper Stinton and Wooley, who were both advertising agencies, he progressed to AB Felix, a Swedish frozen food firm, working in both Sweden and England. In 1962, he joined Suters Ltd at the Slough branch, running the Sales Promotion operation.
However, within 18 months, Italy called and after learning basic Italian at Perugia University, he joined Colman Prentis and Varley (CPV Italiana), an international ad. agency in Milan.
After three and a half years in Italy and six months in Belgium, he rejoined the Family business. At this time, he met his wife Ginny, who worked for BEA, a forerunner of British Airways.
In 1978, Suters sold out to Owen Owen Ltd, a Liverpool based department store group and all the family had to resign from the business. Dick had already secured a position with Champion Spark Plug in Belgium, as Public Relations Manager for Europe, Africa and Middle East.
Part of his role was to plan promotions and arrange advertising at Formula 1 events around Europe. In this way, he could combine his love of motor sport together with work. In his late teens and early twenties, he had owned a series of sports cars, such as a Turner with a fibreglass body and an Austin Healey Sprite. For a number of years, he was a member of both the British Automobile Racing Club and the British Racing Drivers Club.
When he was working in Milan, he was also the Italian correspondent for Autosport magazine.
In the late 1980's, Champion closed down their European base in Belgium, deciding to run everything from USA, so Dick became self employed as a journalist and magazine editor working for Internationals in Belgium and Plug-In Belgium. He was also a translator of technical books and instructions, helped by his excellent French and Italian plus some German. As retirement age was on the horizon, he and Ginny decided to retire to the south of France, to be near their elder daughter and her family and later by his second daughter and her family. This was a very convenient location for keeping up his Italian, by being able to drive over the border in just over an hour for lunch.
He carried out charity work and taught Italian.
In September 2010, he was diagnosed with leukaemia and despite putting up a great fight, died in Mougins, France on the 21st March 2013. His wife Ginny, who had suffered from various cancers for a number of years, died seven weeks later. They are survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.
Additional Info: Prior to going to St Pauls, Dick was at Thorpe House School in Gerrards Cross, Bucks the same school attended by his brothers Robert and Philip
In 2010 Peter Goodchild who had known Dick since his teenage years published a book privately "Beer and Skittles -Anecdotes and Ramblings of a Life behind bars".
Here are some extracts - "1956, the year of my twenty-first! My folks laid on a really superb party for me at Llanbury, with a large marquee, music, marvellous fare that Uncle Terry supervised with his usual mastery of organising beanos and my mother excelling with decor, flowers, guest lists, etc. A wonderfuful evening, but remembered more potently as two great mates Pat (Shepherd) and Dick (Suter) had been involved in an horrendous accidents only weeks earlier - Dick was still limping and Pat was entirely encased in plaster: he looked as if he was wearing a white coffin down to his waist, with just his face showing. (He'd spent nearly four hours under the knife having operations to his head at The Radcliffe in Oxford).
Left: Dick Suter & Pat Shepherd
Our second home to me and my cronies, Pat Shepherd, Mike Pearce, Dick Suter, Mike White, Colin Hart and many others, plus our various girlfriends, was The Jolly Farmer, Gold Hill, Chalfont St Peter. The pub was affectionately known as The Jolly Bosoms due to Lucille, Tom Davies the Licensee's wife.....
Another of our many social get-togethers was motor racing at Goodwood. A gang of us would go down there - Pat Shepherd, Ian Wylie, Mike White, Dick Suter, Mike Pearce, David Welton and me, with our ladyloves:leaving early in the morning, we would arrive just outside the circuit, not far from The Richmond Arms on the Goodwood Estate. we would cook breakfast by the side of a hedgerow and then zoom over to the pub, where quite often we would see the drivers, who were to race in the afternoonhaving a few pints. Duncan Hamilton was one of them, a well known amateur Grand Prix and Le Mans driver, latterly involved with D type Jaguars and affectionately known as 'Drunken Duncan'....
Dick (Suter) was always the fall guy amongst us for the various pranks we would get up to. Three abiding memories, the firstat the Fitzroy Club in Marlow when he'd attempted to walk through a glass door on exiting, completely plastered knocking himself out - rather like one of those Tom and Jerry cartoons. The second time was him being told "Next time you want to do that, join a circus" by a police constable as we were about to drive round Shepherds Bush. We'd been to a café, after Paul's stag party and Dick was the last to leave after paying a forefeit of having to settle the bill.
We locked the car doors and I began to to drive off slowly, with the only way for Dick to leave with us, climbing on to and spread-eagling himself on the bonnet, which of course he did. Fortunately, only a mild ticking off was forthcoming as the police were in the throes of quelling a disturbance between two rival gangs of Teddy Boys. You can just imagine the reaction if that was today, banned from driving or points on your licence - even a confinement at Her Majesty's pleasure. One of the wags in the car had informed the police constable that Dick had only just returned from the tropics, required fresh air and couldn't travel in a confined space!
He'd also been involved in a major accident on the A40, in the car he and Pat were travelling, hitting a large pool of wate in a sudden freak thunderstorm, aquaplaning and turning over ejecting them both. Pat landed on his head and Dick ended up with broken limbs among other things.
Dick had an unintentional but slightly pompous and devil may care air about him, coupled with a joie de vivre, which exaggerated his demeanour; this didn't always help when we was trying to extricate himself verbally from the odd predicament which he had to quite often. He did make us laugh though. He had a most amusing, but eventually damaging incident at the Jolly Bossoms the third abiding memory.
Riding a horse, which he had purloined from Penny Hart and having no control over whatsoever, he was consequently thrown twice being dragged along with his foot caught in the reins after the second attempt. A few pints were spilled watching this spectacle. Poor Dick, years later, he had to be operated on for damaged vertebrae. We don't keep in toch often enough. He is now living with wife Ginny at Grasse, in the South of France. No doubt, one day hopefully, we'll meet up again." (Peter Lee Goodchild May 2010)
In Peter's book, in the extracts above Pat Shepherd is talked about and the terrible accident that Dick and Pat had on the A40 in 1956.
They were travelling along the A40 near the Bellhouse Hotel near Beaconsfield, Bucks in a Morris Minor Convertible, similar to the picture above. From memory I think it was light brown in colour and of course in that era there would not have been safety belts.
Peter talks about Pat Shepherd more in his book. "1966 was also the year in which my closest chum, Pat Shepherd died at the age of thirty-one, due to the after effects caused by the major road accident in 1956, previously mentioned with Dick, which had cursed him with many complications and finally leukaemia. He and I had been buddies since our late teens. My alter ego - we did everything together. I was his Best Man at a superb wedding when he married the ever smiling and stunning Sue with the reception held at Pinewood Film Studios."
A coincidence that both of these two people involved in that accident should die from leukaemia.
Richard Ensor (Dick's brother in law) who has contributed many pages of the Suters Ltd History to this site has written a personal history of the Suter and Ensor family.
Looking at 1956 he explains that Dick was carrying out his National Service duties that year and goes onto say "After training Dick was posted to Middle Wallop and then to Northolt. While at Northolt he was able to live at home and went into the base each day on the train. He was taught to type and became a clerk reaching speeds of 20 words a minute. The skill he acquired proved immediately useful when he finished National Service and later when it was necessary to start using a computer key board.
Dick's National Service included a three week course at both Chorley, Lancs and Moreton-in-the-Marsh. One course (towards the end of his service) was in fire fighting when he climbed ladders, took part in simulated rescues and drove a "Green Goddess" fire engine. At home, his mother suffered the indignity of being "rescued" while he was practising "fireman's lifts" but Wendy-Ann escaped. The second course was in first aid which he found both interesting and, later, useful.
Dick's main objection to National Service was that it went on too long. He would have been content with the original period (before the Korean War) of 18 months. He still thinks, on balance, that it was useful in teaching him to work as part of a team, provided some discipline and accustomed him to dealing with all types of people. He thinks it should still exist today.
During August, Dick was involved with his friend Pat Shepherd in a serious motor accident. He was living at home while working at Northolt and was sharing the 'babysitting' for Philip jointly with Wendy-Ann. Pat called and persuaded him to come out for a drink and the car hit water while being driven by Pat who lost control passing the Bellhouse Hotel on the Oxford Road. Pat's car had an open top and both Pat and Dick were thrown from the vehicle.
Pat hit the road and suffered a fractured skull while Dick landed in a slightly softer ditch. Waiters rushed from the hotel to help and Wendy-Ann received a call from Wycombe Hospital and had to brake the news to her parents when they returned from their evening out. Dick was in hospital for ten days and was discharged sufficiently fit to return to Northolt. Pat was not so lucky and was out of action for a long time."
Dick Suter 10 April 1937 - 21 March 2013
Ginny Suter 28 March 1945 - 09 May 2013
Source of images, unless otherwise stated - Suter family archives