James Keith Shearer, Architect, died suddenly of a heart attack in Winchester on 3rd May 2021, aged 65 years. Deeply loved, missed and mourned by his partner, family and friends.
KEITH SHEARER, 1955-2021
Keith was born in London in May, 1955 and his parents, James and Mary, moved out of London first to Cobham in Surrey and then to Queen’s Drive, Oxshott, in a house designed by Keith’s father. His brothers and sisters, Janet, Gillian, Paul and Ian have fond memories of family meals around the table made from a surplus fire door. There was also croquet on the lawn, Keith playing flute by the piano, tennis, and some pretty mean cricket fast bowling practice, plus a wicked sense of humour and an entertaining talent for mimicry.
Keith was educated at nearby Milbourne Lodge School and then went on to board at Winchester College as a scholar.
Keith’s prodigious talent for languages, saw him collect a slew of language 'O' levels including Russian and Japanese which he taught himself. He went on to King’s College, Cambridge where he read Chinese for a year, before switching to Architecture, following in the footsteps of his father, J,D. Shearer, mother, M.M. Shearer, and grandfather, J.G. Shearer, O.B.E., as well as blazing a trail for his younger sister, Gillian Ross.
As a student he worked with renowned architect, Sir Richard MacCormac, and also spent a year in Tokyo at the practice of Kenzo Tange. After graduation, his 40-year career spanned many practices and many continents where his skill as a linguist often came into play. Nowhere more so than in Baghdad on a project for the Ministry of Oil working with Italian designers and Yugoslavian contractors. Keith slipped effortlessly between Arabic, Italian and Serbo-Croat. After spells with Cambridge Design, and Shankland Cox, Keith became a Director at John Thompson and Partners, before moving to London practices Broadway Malyan, and Barton Willmore. He settled in Winchester while working as a Senior Associate for ADAM Urbanism where his skills as a masterplanner were put to good use. His last years were spent at Thrive Architects.
Although he had great agility with the Times Crossword (concealing it beneath his drawing board at one firm he worked for), and notwithstanding his great love of cooking and hosting parties, Keith was at his most fulfilled when combining architecture with travel and languages. On most of his trips abroad he added a bit of bird-spotting, photography, sketching, music and socialising. Keith made many friends around the world, including Arafang Sambou, whom he lived with in London until 2012.
Cuba was Keith's latest love and he visited as many times as he could before international travel restrictions. His partner, Carlos, was anticipating coming to the UK this year after a lengthy visa application process and feels the loss of Keith most acutely.
Keith's sudden death was a great shock to everyone, and the smallest comfort comes from the fact that his end appears to have been without suffering. Along with his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, partner and friends, there are many colleagues, neighbours, fellow allotment gardeners, tennis club members and his three cats who will miss him dearly.
The funeral will be a small private ceremony held for family and friends at Saint Andrew’s Church, Chilcomb. Covid restrictions limit the numbers to invitees only but the ceremony will be recorded and available afterwards via weblink.
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No flowers please for the funeral, but donations to Oxfam’s General Emergency Fund and to the Friends of Saint Andrew’s Church can be made through this website.
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