Tributes paid to Bob Stark, umpire at Oakham Cricket Club and adult education teacher at Casterton Community College and RAF Cottesmore
Tributes have been paid to a cricket club’s former umpire who has died at the age of 88.
Bob Stark was well-known in Oakham for his involvement with the cricket and bowls clubs, and for leading training courses for adults at Casterton Community College and RAF Cottesmore.
A skilful raconteur, he is remembered by his widow, Caroline, as having “a mischievous little twinkle in his eye” when recounting anecdotes, and as a “true gentleman” by friends.
“Bob was not someone who sought to be known, but his actions made him a man people didn’t forget,” said Caroline, who met Bob in 1979.
“He grew up with a sense of community and responsibility, and he was always very interested in people. He loved helping people to fulfil the things they wanted to achieve.”
Having grown up in Leicestershire, Bob carried out National Service before joining HM Customs and Excise. He worked his way up and found a role he loved - training others in skills to develop their careers.
Having moved to their home in Derwent Drive, Oakham in 1986, Bob and Caroline married in 1991 at the town’s registry office.
Aged 60, Bob took retirement, but continued to train adults through courses held at Casterton Community College and RAF Cottesmore. At the school in Casterton he was known as 'John' because there were already three Bobs working there when he took on the role.
“At 60 Bob still had a lot to give,” said Caroline. “He taught accounting and business studies, helping people to gain qualifications to progress their careers, and those leaving the RAF.”
Having been put off flying during his National Service after the wing dropped off an aeroplane he was in, Caroline finally persuaded Bob to travel overseas in his retirement, and they enjoyed European railway journeys together.
The couple also shared a love for walking, sealed by the hugely energetic border collie Bob was given for his 60th birthday.
“The rest of his time was filled with playing golf and umpiring cricket matches,” said Caroline, fondly. “During his life he excelled at football, tennis and cricket, and played snooker, golf and bowls too. Anything with a ball!”
Having played league cricket in Yorkshire, Bob, a talented bowler, used his knowledge of the game to become an umpire for Oakham Cricket Club. He was also treasurer and, with Caroline, ran the bar.
On New Year’s Day of the Millennium the wooden pavilion was burned down by an arsonist, followed by the equipment shed and scorebox.
Being at the heart of the club, Bob played a big part in helping it to overcome the attack and replace what had been lost.
“He would never just join a club, he would always help out,” said Caroline.
More recently, the couple joined the bowls club in Oakham together. Bob played until he became too ill with the cancer which he had fought since his diagnosis in 2016.
In a tribute from Oakham Cricket Club, Bob was described as “a fantastic servant to the club, as well as being a true gentleman”.
It continued: “He helped us through a difficult period when the pavilion was burned down, and as treasurer ensured we had the stability to make it into the club it is today, a club he would be proud to have helped mould.
“He was a great character, and a wonderful person, with a great sense of humour, an enormous amount of sage advice, and will be truly missed around Oakham Cricket Club. Bob and Caroline were part of the fabric, and the club will always remember him.”
Following Bob’s death on July 30, club members began a match at their home ground with a minute’s silence in his memory.
Family friend Phil Newby also paid tribute to Bob, saying: “He was a marvellous and wonderful gentleman imbued with a lot of fun and a great deal of wisdom.”
Bob had two sons from his first marriage, James and David. James has sadly died, but David and his wife, Wendy, have their own son, Doug, who Caroline describes as “tall, good looking and a very good athlete just like his grandfather was”.
“Bob was very proud of him and adored all of our family,” she added.
Bob’s funeral service was held on Thursday, August 13, with the cortège departing from Oakham Cricket Club.