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Frank Hooper (1912-1993)

Francis Barrington Hooper was born in December 1912, and died of cancer in August 1993. Frank, as he was universally known, was educated at Westminster School, and went straight from school into the family firm, the Argus Press. During the war he served in the Intelligence Corps, and then returned to the world of publishing and printing magazines. He became Managing Director of the Argus Press in 1962, and remained in that position until his retirement in 1974.

Frank's life centred round his family work. Close rival to both of these, however, was his life-long interest in all sports, and in particular his enjoyment of Eton Fives, learned at school and played thereafter until close to his seventieth birthday. Tennis - real not lawn - also figured, with Frank continuing to play for a while even after he had given up Fives.

Both before the war and for many years afterwards, Frank was a regular member of the Old Westminster Fives teams, and a familiar figure on all the schools' courts where we used to play. Well built, but somewhat un-athletic in his movements, Frank was not a first class player. He was a good club player, but more importantly he was one of those without whom all sports would be the poorer. His enthusiasm was not dimmed by being unable to reach the heights - he simply enjoyed the game, played with all his heart, and was no more affected by winning rather than losing, so long as it had been a good game, played to the best of his ability and with proper sportsmanship.

Frank was not one to take without also giving, and he repaid his pleasure in the game by long service to the Eton Fives Association, and to the School where he learned the game.

At Westminster, he served on the committee of the Elizabethan Club (the Old Boys Club), and was a very active Chairman from 1975 to 1979. He was also a member of the Council of the Westminster School Society for many years.

Martin Shortland-Jones, President of the Eton Fives Association, writes:

"I first met Frank when I was a sixteen year old schoolboy in need of cricket during the holidays and he was captaining the third XI of Harrow Town C.C. His bluff demeanour and bellicose appearance, coupled with a positive enthusiasm for the game and a scrupulous fairness in ensuring that everyone had full opportunity to play his part, made us all keen, eager and anxious to obey our captain's commands with alacrity; the success that followed gave us a lasting pride in our achievement and him a great feeling of satisfaction. Ten years later I was trying to get Fives going at Ipswich, and I needed some players to encourage the boys: naturally I turned to Frank, and he found three altruistic companions to travel up with him to give some very inexperienced and inept players the best game they had ever had. Fifteen years after that a demonstration-cum-coaching session was needed at High Wycombe, and again Frank volunteered for duty and drove us over and back.

His ability to command first respect and then admiration and friendship was a great asset when dealing with the young, but when linked with his vigorous promotion of those causes that were dear to him he became almost irresistable to every age group: Orley Farm School went from strength to strength under his governship, and it was thanks to his positive and energetic efforts that Harrow School were induced to allow those prep school boys regularly to use their courts.

As Chairman of the Committee he displayed the same ebullience and perception, and many of the innovations in the practices of the Committee were inspired by him. I am glad that our last meeting was a happy occasion: we had gathered to celebrate, and Frank's mental vigour and lively enthusiasm were as much in evidence as ever. I feel that we have all inherited a measure of his spirit, and certainly his name will continue to be heard wherever Fives is talked."

Frank was highly regarded by all his many friends, and his death is a sad loss to them and to Eton Fives.

Martin Samuel