My father, Michael Georgeson, who has died aged 88, was for many years a lively and charismatic head of art at St Wilfrid’s school in Crawley, West Sussex. His art room was not just home to budding artists but a haven for any student. He was kind, interested in everyone and very funny.
Born in Liverpool, Michael was the son of Josephine (nee Parker) and Herbert Georgeson, a sales manager at the TJ Hughes department store. An early memory was of his terrified mother clutching a baby while they sat in an air raid shelter. Aside from the blitz, he enjoyed a happy home life.
He attended Upholland Catholic seminary as a boarder, developing a lifelong enthusiasm for philosophy and ethics that, along with his natural compassion and humour, permeated everything he said and did.
After a false start at Liverpool medical school he headed to Canterbury School of Art (now Kent Institute of Art and Design), and then to St Mary’s, Twickenham, to train as a teacher. While there, he met Margaret Salter, a student nurse, at a dance. They married in 1960, the year of his graduation.
He taught at schools in South Ockenden, Essex, Stevenage, Hertfordshire and at Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, until 1971, when he arrived at St Wilfrid’s in Crawley. He soon became a popular member of the staff and was promoted to be head of art.
As a teenager at the same school, I sometimes found his stand-out warmth and often hilarious presence slightly embarrassing. Later on, I realised the enormous impact he had had on many students thanks to his kindness and approachability. He retired in 1997. In his honour the Michael Georgeson memorial award for creativity in art and design is being set up at the school.
Since he was a keen sportsman and passionate fan of Liverpool FC, our pets were called Shankly, Anfield and St John. There was a 6ft square montage of the Kop in one of the bedrooms at home. He was also a music lover, especially of jazz and folk. When we were little, he sang his children to sleep – his often unconventional bedtime repertoire included Cocaine Blues and Woody Guthrie’s Worried Man.
After retiring, he continued to live in Mannings Heath, near Horsham. He enjoyed painting, reading, writing, poetry, golf and travel. As a member of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, he often visited people in hospital.
He is survived by Margaret and their three children, Lise, Mikey and me, and by five grandchildren.