RIP Eddie Waller (1914 – 2016)
Reigate is mourning the death of the town’s best-known civic dignitary.
Former OR (1926-1931) and mayor Eddie Waller died on August 27 2016 just two days before his 102nd birthday. His family were at his side when he passed away, the day after they gathered to celebrate at his home in Brighton Road.
His great-grandchildren blew out candles on a special cake at the party held on August 26. During the previous fortnight, widower Mr Waller had been suffering from poor health and had briefly been in East Surrey Hospital with pneumonia.
Mr Waller, like his wife, had a passion for music and was singing to family members just a fortnight ago. The party was attended by David and Diana, together with Diana’s husband Stuart and David’s wife, Faith, and their two daughters, Sarah and Clare, and Clare’s husband, Stewart. Mr Waller served as a Labour councillor from 1970 until 1998 during which he was mayor from 1992-1993 and Deputy Mayor in 1984-85. As councillor, Mr Waller served on several committees and was Chairman of the Reigate Constituency Labour Party and the Secretary of the Labour Group of councillors. Paying tribute to Alderman Waller, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council Leader Victor Broad said:
Eddie was highly respected and will be remembered for his many achievements and years’ of devoted service to the council, the borough and its residents, particularly those in the Redhill area that he served during his time on the council. Eddie and his late wife Mary were one of the best known couples in the borough who passionately served the Borough of Reigate, then Reigate and Banstead, for more than 50 years between them. He will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.
Both Mr Waller, and his wife, who died in 2009 aged 88, served the borough of Reigate, and later, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, for a total of more than 50 years as Labour councillors. They both had terms as mayor in the 1990s and are the best known civic pair in the history of the council.
After his 100th birthday, Mr Waller was presented with a National Merit Award by the Labour Party for his support over so many years.
The couple battled to improve community facilities in Whitebushes and to have the Reigate Priory building lovingly restored to its former glory. They were involved in nearly all decisions affecting Reigate and Redhill.
After leaving RGS in 1931 during the Great Depression, Eddie was unable to get a job for seven months. After a brief period as a student teacher at Frenches Road School, Redhill, he worked as an assistant secretary for a firm which had five shops in London selling eggs and poultry. In the Second World War, Mr Waller served in the Royal Army Service Corps then set off in a convoy of ships to north Africa. He spent most of the war in Iraq, returning to England in 1946.
He celebrated his 100th birthday in August 2014 with a celebration party for friends and family at Redhill Golf Club.
Among his other notable achievements, Mr Waller raised over £17,000 towards the cost of the restoration of the historic Verrio murals and staircase in Reigate Priory and with his wife, was instrumental in securing improvements to community facilities in Whitebushes. He was also involved in the twinning of the borough with Brunoy in France and Eschweiler in Germany.