Potbury’s chief dies aged 84

TRIBUTES have been paid to ‘a real gentleman’ who rose from office boy to become head of Sidmouth furniture store Potburys.

Terence Lee, who has died aged 84, was born at Branscombe, the eldest of three brothers whose father was a thatcher, rat catcher and cliff farmer, writes Kingsley Squire.

He left the village school at 14-years-of-age and within a year was recommended to Potburys who, at that time, had a vacancy for an office boy.

Thus began, from humble childhood, a remarkable 47-year career that saw Mr Lee become manager before, on the death of Mrs Potbury, last surviving member of the founding family, he took over the company with his two fellow directors.

He later became chairman and managing director and, joined by his two sons, Michael and Jonathan, they worked as a team to establish Potburys as the flagship furniture store it is today.

Mr Lee retired in 1989 and kept an office at the store to work, with characteristic deligence, on his outside interests, arranging speakers for Sidmouth Rotary Club and all the fixtures and tour bookings for the bowling club.

“He he made an excellent job of it,” said club member Norman Brimson.

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“Terence was a real gentleman who never had a cross word with anyone. He will be remembered especially by the older members and it was entirely appropriate that, apart from being a county player, he was made a life member of the club in recognition of his long service.”

Mr Lee retained a grassroots affection for Branscombe and for many years met two friends from the village once a week at the Three Horse Shoes to reminisce over a pint about old times.

He was particularly proud when his son, Jonathan, now manager of Sidmouth Golf Club, re-established the family link when he lived in the village with his family for two years.

Mr Lee, widowed in 1994 on the death of his wife, Pat, to whom he was married for 43 years, leaves a partner, Peggy Hannant, his sons, Jonathan and Michael, who succeeded him as managing director of Potburys, and seven grandchildren.

The funeral was being held today ( Friday ) at St Peter’s Church, Sidford.