OBITUARY - William Augustus Townsend

BWISC Bulletin June 1993

It is with profound regret that I have to inform members that our Vice-President Bill Townsend passed away peacefully in his sleep on 10th February last. Bill was known to very many people in philately in which he was involved for most of his life, and his contribution to the hobby was immense.

He joined the Study Circle in 1957 and shortly after that I met him at a Study Circle meeting held at the Congress in Torquay: from this first meeting there developed a lifelong friendship between us despite the fact that we did not collect the same countries. In April 1964 Bill became a Vice-President of the Study Circle, an office which he held until he passed away. At this period he was also a very considerable force in the local philatelic societies in the Derby area, and in addition he had for some years been a Fellow of The Royal Philatelic Society, London.

In about 1968 Bill and his wife Eve moved from Derby and went to live in Sussex, and while living down South he made a point of attending the Committee meetings of the Study Circle in London.

When I first met him he collected Montenegro and British Guiana but he sold Montenegro soon after the 1960 International Exhibition at the Festival Hall and concentrated full time on British Guiana. In the 1960’s Bill’s collection of British Guiana expanded rapidly and it achieved Gold Medal status being awarded ultimately the top prize at the International Exhibition held in Mexico before being sold by auction in 1969. In the years thereafter he formed collections of postal history including postal markings covering the whole of the British West Indies and also in particular a specialised collection of St. Lucia.

By the time of Philympia 1970 Bill had become a signatory of The Roll of Distinguished Philatelists and the President of The Royal Philatelic Society, London, and it is interesting to note that he once told me that he was the only individual so far from the Provinces to hold the office of President in that Society. 1970 was a wonderful year for Bill as, in conjunction with Fred Howe, “The Postage Stamps and Postal History of British Guiana” was published after several years of hard work. Although this handbook is now out of print it is still universally regarded as the definitive work on British Guiana.

As a person Bill was delightful and had a very equable temperament. He also had the priceless ability of being able to discuss numerous subjects other than philately which made him an exceptionally interesting person to converse with and to know.

Bill could not have achieved what he did without the support of Eve who gave him strength and assistance in his philatelic activities. Eve at one time collected the Pitcairn Islands and also became the first lady Council member of The Royal Philatelic Society, London.

Our condolences and sympathy must be extended to Eve, her daughter Susan, and also to Bill’s son and daughter and grandchildren in their very sad loss.

Your President attended the funeral at Loughborough as a personal friend and also on behalf of the Study Circle.

Victor Toeg.