Posted: April 13th, 2014
The Mirror’s KEITH WAITE, one of Britain’s greatest-ever social and political cartoonists, died suddenly, aged 87, on April 10 (2014) in St Elizabeth’s hospice, Ipswich, a few days before he was due to go home, writes David Thompson.
The dry wit that inspired so many of his cartoons produced famous last words which match those of Oscar Wilde and Spike Milligan.
Keith was an experienced and enthusiastic sailor from his home at Pinn Mill on the Orwell river near Ipswich. He left instructions that his ashes should be scattered on the river but on an ebb tide “because I do not want to spend eternity in Ipswich”. The date of the funeral has not yet been fixed, but his wife Reneé and family expect Keith’s ashes will be scattered from a Thames barge full of his old sailing friends. Other craft full of friends will accompany the barge.
Throughout a long career Keith’s work appeared in almost every British newspaper, and in Japan, Israel and the Soviet Union.
Keith arrived in Britain from New Zealand in 1951 to work for Kemsley in Glasgow on the pre-Mirror Group Daily Record and the Daily News. He then freelanced for Punch before joining the Daily Sketch. He moved on in 1964 to the Cudlipp Sun.
Some of his sharpest cartoons, giving no quarter to politicians and over-weening authority, appeared in the Daily Mirror from 1969 to 1985, and in the Sunday Mirror from 10 years from 1970.
He left the Mirror after a furious row with bullying Robert Maxwell, a man he detested. Then for 10 years he was the pocket cartoonist on the business pages of The Times.
Keith leaves widow, Reneé, whom he married in 1983 from his final boat, the 35-foot ketch, Lutra II, at Tobermory on the Scottish Isle of Mull, three surviving of his four children, and two step-daughters.
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