Roger was born in Southwold on 19th November, 1924 the only child of Reginald and Julia Last. Reginald was a schoolmaster at the local Primary School. They moved to Witnesham and then on to Wetherden where Reginald was promoted to Head Teacher. Roger then won a scholarship to Framlingham College which he enjoyed immensely and immersed himself in playing hockey, cricket, rugby and soccer for the school teams. He was still attending Old Framlinghamians meetings until his illness took hold and was a loyal Vice President of the Society.
He left the College in 1942 and enlisted for the RAF. He joined 622 Squadron based at Mildenhall and was soon sent for flight training. They were sent by train to Glasgow for boarding the Queen Mary at Greenock to New York and then by train to Manitoba in Canada. He blames the local ladies for his failing to become a pilot, but he did serve as a Navigator in Lancaster Bombers on his return to England. He flew nine missions over Germany and also in Operation Manna, dropping food to the Dutch people who were left starving. Just days before his passing, his well earned Bomber Command clasp came through the post and Gill, was able to present it to him.
Undeterred by having failed his initial pilot training, he did try again and gained his pilot’s licence. This was the start of many flights for family and friends all over the country in small aircraft - he often used to fly over the local villages so that people could take aerial photos of their houses. He also worked with photographers to this end. He was an active member of the Ipswich Flying Club.
After the War he attended Imperial College and became a well respected Chemical Engineer in the Nuclear Power Industry. He worked all over Britain and Europe on the commissioning of various Power Stations. The family moved around the country before finally settling back in Wetherden where Roger built the house on land given to him by his father in 1966. He met his wife, Dorothy in Newark, and their daughter Gill was born in 1956 after they moved to Streatham, followed by Andrew two years later when Roger was working at Sellafield. Younger members of the family remember him as a unique and funny man, if occasionally embarrassing, as when he took out his clarinet amidst London traffic jams. Roger was well known for his clarinet playing. He would always become involved in the local music scene, playing in local pubs with other musicians. He was even on a float in the Lord Mayor’s show for at least 3 years running. He also appeared with the Dennington All Stars at the SOF Millennium Ball.
On retirement from NNC he became a Consultant, and carried on working, attending conferences and exhibitions until his early 80s and keeping up to date with developments in the Industry. Roger was also active in the Chemical Society and attended monthly meetings in Norwich up until a few years ago.
Unfortunately Dorothy died at the age of 56 in December 1989. Then his beloved Andy contracted septicaemia and died at the young age of 37 in 1995. This was something from which he never recovered. He used to visit Gill and her family in Dunbar in Scotland where, as was his way, he became a “well kent man”. He never missed the Edinburgh Jazz Festival nor the Dunbar Traditional Music Festival. He loved nothing better than playing with his many musical friends from all over Suffolk whether for a jam session or a full-on gig. His various hats were as well known as he was! One of the most popular requests was Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore” and a recording of Roger playing this was heard at the funeral.
Roger was diagnosed with alzheimers/vascular dementia a few years ago but, with the aid of medication, held the disease at bay for a while. Gill affectionately remarks that there was probably evidence of the onset of the illness a few years before the actual diagnosis but because of his eccentricity it was quite hard to detect! He did maintain his independence for a few more years until it became apparent that he needed full-time care. Gill negotiated unpaid leave from her work and became full time carer for Roger at her house in Dunbar, Scotland. After being diagnosed with cancer he went downhill rapidly. It was a blessing for him when his pain and confusion were finally put to an end. Roger died with a loving family around him. His passions had become theirs and he had opened their minds to creativity and unconformity. Gill had been using Facebook to blog about her life with Roger. It became a bit of a cult following, with people saying they would log on just to hear of his latest exploits! The day he passed away she was inundated with messages. She has been told she should write a book about those last few months as a tribute – and perhaps she will! There will also be a memorial for his many friends in Dunbar - by popular demand.
SOF President, Richard Sayer, additionally commented: He was a great supporter of the Society of Old Framlinghamians, and rarely missed a London supper during the 17 years of my organising them. He was always interested and interesting, a splendid one-off, indeed something of a maverick, who will be much missed for his sense of humour, his love of jazz, and his friendship to all, young or old. The world is now a blander place