Upright, Norman M.A., B.D. (1907-1998)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

NORMAN UPRIGHT: born at Seacombe, Cheshire, on 21st August 1907, the son of William and Emily, and the eldest of their five children. William was a Primitive Methodist minister who served at one period as Chairman of the Stoke District and later as a Secretary in the Home Mission Department. Norman’s grandfather, Thomas Kelsey Upright, and his uncle were also Methodist ministers. 

Educated at the City and County Grammar School, Chester, Norman early felt the call to follow his father’s vocation and was trained at Hartley College, Manchester, where he gained his BA in History and a postgraduate BD degree. He remained a scholarly man throughout his ministry and in 1943 completed a thesis on the history of Coventry (1660-1688) for which he was awarded his MA by Manchester University. 

But beyond the realms of scholarship he always counted it a high privilege to be a Methodist travelling preacher and this remained his continuing vocation. His first two circuits were in Coventry: he then served in the following circuits — Birmingham (Islington), Colwyn Bay and Llandudno, Warrington, Bournemouth (Punshon Memorial), London (Ilford), Leicester (North), Barnet, and finally Truro, where he retired in 1973, making his home there in a place where he was held in high regard and much affection. 

He created a garden out of a builders’ site and a mud flat, enjoyed the Cornish countryside and coastline, and welcomed family visits from his son, Richard, daughter-in-law Christine, and grandchildren Edward and Rosanna for holidays. His main interests always centred on Methodism, its people and history. The social dimension of his faith was always important: current affairs, world issues and politics were ready topics of conversation. Occasionally his radicalism in the pulpit might cause a degree of consternation, but he always respected the opinions of others with tolerance and humour. 

Throughout his ministry Norman was a preacher of clarity and conviction, always preparing with care, for nothing less than the best was good enough for him or the God he served. Even in his retirement years he was still in demand and nobody could read a Scripture lesson better than he. As a supernumerary he was a great encourager and he usually had an apposite word as he shook hands with the preacher, especially if he had chosen Psalm 111 about the congregation of the upright! So far as circuit and church life were concerned he left that to others. Not for him the dubious role of the retired critic and focus of discontent that was never his style. 

In 1942 he married Barbara Edwards, a physiotherapist. She was the ideal foil to Norman: occasionally mischievous or unconventional, she matched his twinkling humour with a love of rugby football and shared his commitment to his life as a minister. Barbara died in 1989 from a stroke which followed a successful hip operation. With considerable courage he began his new life, alone. He tackled the intricacies of cooking and learned how to iron only those bits of clothing which could be seen! His faith and fortitude were impressive, revealing a self-sufficiency and determination to look after himself, but he was always gracious and grateful to those who supported him. Gradually old age began to take its toll. He found it difficult to recall the exact word he wanted as he preached — he could forget the way to some of the village chapels — and then frailty and fading memory made it impossible for him to continue to live alone in his beloved Truro. He moved first of all to Evesham, where his sister Muriel cared for him, and finally to Cedar Lawn, the Methodist Home in Stratford on Avon. 

He died on 14th May 1998 at Warwick Hospital, in the ninety-first year of his age and the sixty-seventh year of his ministry.

Family

Norman was born on 21 August 1907 at Seacombe, Cheshire, to parents William Upright, a PM minister, and Emily Jane Wood.

He married Barbara Verney Edwards (1915-1989) on 15 August 1942 in the Aled Registration District, Denbighshire. Birth records identify one child.

  • Richard (b1948)

Norman died on 14 May 1998 at Warwick, Warwickshire.

Circuits

  • Hartley
  • 1931 Coventry I
  • 1933 Coventry Ford
  • 1934 Birmingham Isl
  • 1938 Colwyn Bay &c
  • 1942 Warrington
  • 1946 Bournemouth
  • 1951 London Ilford
  • 1956 Leicester N
  • 1962 Barnet
  • 1968 Truro
  • 1973 Truro (Sup)

References

Methodist Minutes 1998/51

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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