11:46, March 02 298 0 theguardian.com

2017-03-02 11:46:04
Other lives  Harry Sales obituary

My father, Harry Sales, who has died aged 98, was a man for whom the phrase “living life to the full” might have been invented. While working full-time as a lawyer, he climbed seriously, painted and sculpted, and grew daffodils.

Born in Stockport to Harry Sales, a solicitor, and his wife, Mary (nee Brimelow), Harry attended the town’s grammar school (1929-1934). He qualified as a solicitor before he was 21, taking his degree at Manchester University while working as an articled clerk to his father.

He met Elsie Sharples, a welfare officer, who later also qualified as a solicitor, on a walking holiday in Wales. The couple married in 1940 and moved to Guildford, Surrey, where they brought up their four children. For most of my childhood, Harry was town clerk of Aldershot, Hampshire. His job meant he was politically circumscribed, but both he and Elsie were Labour voters.

His career took a sideways turn in the 1970s when he became a barrister, specialising in planning law. He took part in several landmark cases. Perhaps the best known involved the GLC’s Fares Fair policy, when he advised Bromley council, successfully arguing that subsidising tube and bus fares was unlawful. His involvement brought much criticism, including from his family but, as his friend the judge Stephen Sedley said, he was distressed at the suggestion that he desired this outcome: his job was to advise clients, irrespective of whether or not he approved of their objectives.

Harry was an enthusiastic climber throughout his life. He took part in an expedition to Greenland in the 1970s which made the first ascents of nine mountains in the Roscoe range, and undertook a trek in the foothills of Everest in his 70s. He became president of the Climbers’ Club in 1975, and was an honorary member until his death.

In his late 30s he started painting. He became a director of the New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham, Surrey, and the artist-led organisation Free Painters and Sculptors, with which he exhibited regularly. When his sight failed he turned to sculpture, painstakingly smoothing driftwood to make human figures. The gift of daffodil bulbs started another enthusiasm and for years he grew the flowers, competing in shows and developing new varieties.

His first marriage ended in divorce. He met Patricia, an artist, in 1976, and the couple later moved to Paul, Cornwall. They married in 1989. Harry took up bell-ringing and, always an enthusiastic pianist, resumed piano lessons in his 80s.

At 95 he was still striding the Cornish cliffs, but he became totally blind a year ago. He continued to take an avid interest in world affairs and to enjoy company, music, food and a glass of sherry.

He is survived by Pat, his children, Robert, John, Janet and me, his stepchildren, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.