PAUL WODDIS who has died at the age of 78, attended Uppingham from 1955-58 and was a member of The Hall where he made friends easily including one who was to prove his staunchest life-long friend, Robin Grove-White.
Following Uppingham and after a short sabbatical in Brussels, he gained an Exhibition to Oxford (Brasenose, 1959-63) where he read Modern Languages and gained a 2nd class degree (although he always felt he would have gained a First had his viva been on his beloved Proust rather than Balzac of whom he was less enamoured!).
It was at Oxford where he met his beautiful wife, Helena Wills. They married in May 1963 and later that year, Paul joined one of Britain’s leading multi-nationals in household products, Reckitt & Colman, as a graduate trainee in the Marketing department.
He spent 18 years with the company, often overseas and first as Marketing Director in Venezuela (Valencia and Caracas), then Argentina (Buenos Aires) during the period of unrest under the Military Junta.
In December 1976, he returned to Europe as CEO in France.
Eventually leaving Reckitt & Colman in 1981, he joined Cussons UK as Managing Director in their Cheshire offices. Later he performed the same duties for Sanofi Winthrop and retired as the outgoing Chairman when they became Elf Sanofi.
Paul and Helena settled in Weybridge, Surrey before finally moving to Suffolk in 2011 where he died in February this year at The Orwell Care Home, surrounded by his family.
Paul was born in Nottingham, the eldest child of psychiatrist Keith (Gideon Mordecai) Woddis and Dorice, nee Burgess. Justin, their eldest son was born at the end of 1963, Hugo in 1965 and Katharine, their daughter in 1972.
To anyone who knew Paul during the early years, he cut an extraordinarily handsome and charismatic figure. A passionate and life long enthusiast of classical music, his knowledge was deep and as detailed as was his love of languages, especially French and Spanish. He also spoke Italian and German.
Always an internationalist, he read widely with poetry becoming a major love, Philip Larkin and Cavafy being two of his favourites.
Working abroad offered rich experiences. He was especially devoted to France and in Argentina became an enthusiastic tango dancer!
Rugby and horse racing were also abiding interests, the latter since schooldays when he began to study stock and breeding in which he became an expert.
He was also a great connoisseur of all things gastronomic, including French food markets as well as its fine wines and liqueurs. His own culinary specialities included a mean mayonnaise and superb soufflés.
Most of all, he will be missed by his many friends who knew and loved him for his largesse, his energy, wit, international and intellectual breadth and his instinctive generosity of spirit.
He is survived by his wife, Helena, his children Justin, Hugo and Katharine; his grand-children, Rollo and Tabitha Woddis, Swan and Willow Schofield, Charlotte Woddis and by his sister, Carole.
PAUL WODDIS, born Nov 28, 1941, died Feb 15, 2019.