By Frances Birkett
TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular former caretaker at a secondary school in Hampshire after he died of cancer.
Andover teacher William “Bill” McPhee, who died of lung cancer recently, was one of eight siblings and was born in 1938 in Thurso, Scotland.
Brenda McPhee said she first met her husband in 1956 when she was 15 when her and a friend were walking back from a trip to the cinema.
The pair had stopped off to buy a bag of chips when they passed Mr McPhee.
Mrs McPhee said: “I met him when he was doing national service.
“He said, ‘eh love give us a chip’ after the cinema, and that’s how it all started.”
She only knew him for three weeks before he was posted to Cyprus and then to Pernham Down.
Mrs McPhee said she would wait at the phonebox on Silver Birch Road twice a week to talk to him.
However due to his strong accent she struggled to understand what he said a lot of the time.
The couple had a white wedding at St. Mary’s church in 1960 with her sisters as bridesmaids.
They went on to have four children: Jackie, George, William and Nicky.
Before he died, Mr McPhee became a grandfather-of-eight and a great-grandfather-of-thirteen.
During his national service Mr McPhee was an artillery gunner and later worked at the former St John’s Hospital as a carer looking after male patients.
The 78-year-old was also a wellloved caretaker at Harrow Way School until he retired and was well known in the community.
Mrs McPhee said: “Even now when he walked to work round town and the school kids, they always spoke to him, they were all chatting to him.
“He looked after them and they looked after him, he got on well with them.
“And when he walked past the pub with the dog, the lads who had left the school used to say ‘come and have a pint’.
“It was a sad day when he left.”
Mr McPhee enjoyed fishing with his brother, Chris, walking the family dog, a Jack Russell called Charlie, playing football and supported Liverpool FC.
He also enjoyed horse racing and made a bet shortly before his death.
He died before knowing his horse won and when his family went to collect the winnings they found he had won £263.
His family said this was his best bet he had ever had and put the winning betting slip in his jacket pocket when he was cremated.
Mr McPhee’s favourite tipple was John Smith’s and managed to enjoy a few drops through a pipette before his family bid him goodnight the evening he died.
Mrs McPhee said her husband never complained about his illness and died surrounded by his whole family on January 30.
He was cremated at Salisbury Crematorium on Friday, February 24.
His wife thanked S & J Maddocks for their support and everyone for their cards of condolences.