Sir Theodore McEvoy (1904-1991)

By Anna Hornby
Date Added: 17/07/2009


Chairman of the Society 1962-1972;

Vice-President from 1972

Sir Theodore's service career was one of the highest possible distinction and gallantry, made all the more notable by his courageous battle with a progressively crippling and painful illness, diagnosed at the age of 23, two years after he had left Cranwell where he had won the Sword of Honour.

Anna Hornby, the first Secretary to the Society, wrote this appreciation of his outstanding and generous service to the Society.

Sir Theodore, an early member of S.I.H., became Chairman of the Society in June 1962, following the resignation of the first Chairman, Joseph Compton. Theo, as he became known to his S.I.H. friends, had lately retired after a distinguished career in the R.A.F. When, some ten years later, he resigned from the Chairmanship, Alfred Fairbank wrote '. . . he has been a truly great Chairman and the Society is very much indebted to him'.

The Society benefited particularly from Theo's wisdom initiative and dedication. In spite of many other commitments, he gave unreservedly of his time, thought and energy. To work with him was a happy experience and enlivened by his amusing wit, always very much to the point. He was a person with innate courtesy and great personal charm, who had the gift of communicating easily with people of all ages and being genuinely interested in them. His readiness to notice and respond to any sign of interest in handwriting from whatever quarter involved him in much personal correspondence. On one occasion it led to his being interviewed on a B.B.C. radio programme which brought the Society useful publicity.

During Theo's Chairmanship a number of special exhibitions were shown in the United Kingdom and overseas, many of which owed much to his initiative and personal involvement. In 1971, he submitted a paper to the Schools' Council, on behalf of the Society, and in 1972 a memorandum was sent to the Bullock Committee though with minimal results for the furtherance of italic handwriting. At the same time as he became Chairman, the original typewritten S.I.H. Bulletin (nos. 1-31) was transformed into the printed periodical re-named the Journal, to which Theo contributed on many occasions.

Like his predecessor, Joseph Compton, Theo wrote an excellent, swift italic hand. They shared the opinion that handwriting should be fast. In 1967, Theo initiated a competition 'Is your writing worth a guinea a minute?', in which he offered a prize to the winner for a certified two minute entry for the fastest legible writing. Journal no. 76 (1973) contains an article by him entitled, 'Look where you're going - or do you?', in which he wrote, 'If you have learned to write, you can do it blindfold.' The writing on his 1990 Christmas card was almost as good as it was thirty years earlier. Theo used to say that his interest in handwriting had opened new doors for him - lettering, typography, heraldry, history and he learned the art of engraving on glass.

His courage was tremendous. It was not from him that one ever knew that he was constantly in pain. It had been failing eyesight that had compelled him to resign the Chairmanship in 1972. All who knew Theo will have felt their lives to have been enriched. The Society was immensely fortunate to be able to enjoy in its early years, a decade of shrewd, dynamic and kindly leadership from a man of such distinction.