A RESPECTED and popular owner of a newsagents and tobacconists in Botley Road has died age 98.

George Bates ran Newsagent for more than 20 years, becoming a familiar and much-loved face in the Botley neighbourhood.

Mr Bates was also in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War, and spent nearly five years in a prisoner-of-war camp.

George Henry Bates was born on December 27, 1917 in London.

His father, Edward, was a policeman.

He had an older brother, Edward, an older sister, Dolly, and a younger brother named Billy.

He grew up in Swaton Road in London and started working in a gentleman's outfitters in the capital once he left school.

In 1939 he was enlisted in the army and was based in Wiltshire as part of the Royal Artillery.

He came home to Cowley, Oxford, where his whole family moved during the Second World War, in 1940 to marry his childhood sweetheart Lilian Seger. The pair first started dating when they were 13.

They married in St Luke's Church, Cowley, and then Mr Bates went back to the war soon after. He was sent to North Africa but captured in Tobruk and taken to an Italian POW camp, where he stayed until 1943.

He was then sent to another POW camp in Germany before returning home to Oxford at the end of the war.

Mr Bates joined his wife at their home in Wilkins Road and took time to rest as he was in bad shape returning from the war. The couple never had any children.

In about 1946 he joined Pressed Steel in Cowley where he worked until 1959.

He bought the newsagents in Botley Road in 1960, and he and his wife moved to live just opposite the shop.

His niece Maureen Gardner called him a very popular man, who was well-liked and respected by his customers.

He ran the shop with his wife Lil, with one of her nieces also helping out now and then.

Mr Bates retired in the 1980s and Mrs Bates died in 1994.

The pair, who were married for more than 50 years, were said to be soulmates who did everything together.

On December 1, 2015 Mr Bates moved out of his Botley Road home and into Oxon Ford House in Cumnor.

He died in his sleep on January 20.

He was said to be a "treasured" uncle to Roy, Maureen, Margaret and the late Marie, as well as a much loved great uncle and great-great uncle.

His funeral service will be held at St Frideswide Church, Botley Road, on Monday (February 15) at midday followed by burial at Botley Cemetery.