FRIENDS, former colleagues and family have paid tribute to a former Observer stalwart who has died.
Keith Quinnell passed away aged 76 last Wednesday (August 31) after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for more than 10 years.
He spent his last weeks living at Southdowns Nursing Home in Hollington Park Road, St Leonards.
Mr Quinnell started off working as an apprentice compositor at the Observer’s printing presses when he was 17.
He worked for the company for more than 30 years and was also instrumental in completely computerising the whole operation in the 1980s when the newspaper moved to its present Woods House HQ.
He and his wife, Valerie, had been married for 54 years.
They met at the White Rock Theatre through their love of big band music.
She said: “Keith was a hard worker and would turn his hand to absolutely anything.”
Mr Quinnell was a member of Hastings Runners in his later years and ran three Hastings half marathons on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society.
He also had a love of classic MG cars.
Mr Quinnell’s son, Jason, said: “Dad’s hard-working nature set me a fantastic foundation.
“Having a father like him was a real blessing.
“Dad was a very generous and loving father, a gentle and positive force in my life.
“He became an avid MG enthusiast. I have fond memories of spending many hours working with him in his shed as he made go-karts for me.
“He loved spending time working on his MG classic cars. Dad also loved fishing and we would often go together.”
Gary Brady, who worked at the Observer from 1964 to 1985 and worked closely with Mr Quinnell, said: “Keith was such a fantastic character.
“The news of his passing will be met with not only sadness, but with fond happy memories.
“Keith was a printer and a vital member of staff at the Observer for many, many years.
“His job was to keep the linotype machines in working order which he did in magnificent fashion.
“He was a workmate and person I’m glad I knew.
Mr Brady, who now lives in Wimborne in Dorset, said Mr Quinnell was a ‘one-off’ who ‘would give anything’ to the Observer to make sure it was printed each week.
The newspaper was based in Cambridge Road at the time and was owned by FJ Parsons.
Another colleague, Stan Tichband, who is now 91, said: “Keith was a perfect gentleman. He used to call everyone Bro. That was his claim to fame.”
Mr Quinnell is survived by his widow Valerie, son Jason, daughter Sarah, and his three grandchildren Noah, Daisy and Flora.
His funeral will be held at Hastings Crematorium on Tuesday (September 13) at 11am.