VETERAN councillor, financial mastermind and “gentleman” Charles Shouler has died, aged 79.
The former Oxfordshire County Council chairman and cabinet member for finance had battled lymphoma, a type of cancer, for several years.
Born and brought up at Home Farm in Chesterton, near Bicester, Mr Shouler was the oldest of three brothers and is survived by Frank and Henry.
Aged 11, won a scholarship to Kings College, Worcester, where he completed the equivalent of GCSEs and A-Levels.
He returned to the family farm and later went into partnership with his brother Frank. The pair ran a mixed farm of crops, cattle and sheep until they both retired.
Mr Shouler married Glynda (nee Morgan) and the couple had three children – Elizabeth, 53, Jane, 50, and Robert, 47 – and two grandchildren, William, 15, and Millie, 13.
Following Mrs Shouler’s death in 1993, Mr Shouler went on to develop a relationship with Pauline Liddington, a former Bicester mayor.
A very “organised” man, Mr Shouler was a former chairman of Oxfordshire Young Farmers in the late 1950s before taking his first step into local politics in the 1970s.
First elected to Ploughley Rural District Council in 1973, which later formed part of Cherwell District Council, he remained a member until 1987 with a four-year stint as council leader between 1983 and 1987. In 1989 he was elected to Oxfordshire County Council, representing Bicester South for more than 20 years.
He held a string of roles including cabinet member for finance between 2005 and 2009, and in 2011, and was council chairman from 2001 to 2003 and Conservative group leader.
He stepped down as a councillor in 2013 due to ill health but that year he was made an Honorary Alderman.
His daughter Jane paid tribute to a “loyal” man who had Oxfordshire in his heart.
She said: “He was incredibly loyal. If you were his friend, you were a friend through thick and thin.
“He was an Oxfordshire man through and through. What mattered to him was Oxfordshire and the people of Bicester.
“He could not have done any more than he achieved at Cherwell and Oxfordshire councils.”
In his spare time Mr Shouler played table tennis with Middleton Stoney-based The 50 Up club and was a keen supporter of Bicester’s rugby, football and cricket clubs.
Former colleagues from all sides of the political spectrum paid tribute to Mr Shouler.
Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “He was one of those larger-than-life characters with a booming voice and a keen wit. A true public servant and a true gent.”
Fellow Conservative county councillor Michael Waine said he always “fought” for Oxfordshire and his expertise in local Government was “second to none”.
And Catherine Fulljames, who was elected to the council for the first time alongside Mr Shouler, said he was “incredibly popular” and “an absolute genius with finance.”
Liz Brighouse, Labour group leader and leader of the opposition, also described him as a “gentleman”.
She said: “Right to the end he was interested and concerned about the local community in Oxfordshire.”
On Monday, Bicester Town Council held a minute’s silence in his memory. The funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church, Chesterton, on Friday, April 4, at 2.30pm. All are welcome.