Patrick helped create Coventry University, received a CBE and was even made a knight by the Pope
A service is being held this weekend in memory of a remarkable man who was a major player in motor racing, education and religion in Coventry.
Anyone who knew Robert Patrick Lister, who died on March 19, aged 94, is invited to attend the memorial mass at All Souls Church, in Kingsland Avenue, Chapelfields, from 3pm on Saturday.
In his long and eventful life he was mentioned in despatches for bravery during World War Two, was general manager of Formula 1 engine firm Coventry Climax, was a long-serving school governor and oversaw the transition of Coventry Polytechnic to full university status.
His work earned him a CBE from the Queen and was appointed a Knight by the Pope.
His beloved wife Daphne died a few years ago, but he is survived by four children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Known as Patrick, he was born and brought up in Gloucestershire, and studied economics and law at Cambridge.
He married Daphne in 1942 and served in the 7th Armoured Division, taking part in the advance through Europe following D-Day, and was mentioned in despatches for successfully leading a dangerous overnight operation.
After the war he and his family moved to Massachusetts where he received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1949 and worked for the Massey-Harris tractor firm in Canada.
In 1951, he returned to the UK, moving to Coventry to join Coventry Climax, a company which principally made fork lift trucks and fire pumps, but also Formula 1 engines.
His ability to speak French and German made him an excellent choice as sales manager and he was soon involved in a variety of European trade associations.
He remained with Coventry Climax until 1983, working in various positions until he was in charge of the everyday running of the company as general manager.
By then what had been a small independent company had been sold to Jaguar and then absorbed into British Leyland where it was part of the Special Products Division.
At various times he was president of the Engineering Employers Federation in Coventry as well as the British Industrial Truck Association and the European Engineering Federation (FEM).
Patrick was always deeply involved in voluntary activities.
Robert and Daphne on their wedding day
The Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, 1961.
He and Daphne, who taught classics at Cardinal Wiseman School and Bablake, were founder members of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council in Coventry.
He was also an important figure in the Margery Fry trust, which supported ex-offenders by offering ‘half-way house’ accommodation and organizing opportunities for training.
He was an active member of the Catenian and Newman Associations for most of his adult life, and for ten years represented the Catholic Union at the National Conference of Priests, serving on a parliamentary committee at the House of Lords which reviewed issue arising from debates or proposed legislation.
In later years, he was a regular member of the Probus organization. He was deeply interested in ecumenical issues as well as in involving the laity more actively in the work of the church. Recognising his services to the Catholic Church, he was appointed a Knight of Saint Sylvester by Pope John Paul II in 1992.
Perhaps his greatest impact on the community in Coventry was as a governor of a number of schools and colleges where his wealth of experience in business and charitable work made him an ideal appointee.
Robert and Daphne
The Coventry Climax Engines ET199 – the first British-produced forklift truck
A rescue worker operating a Coventry Climax fire pump following an air raid in Coventry
He was a governor of All Souls Parish School for 12 years and was instrumental as chairman in starting a pre-school nursery.
For over 20 years he was governor of St Josephs, Kenilworth, at a time of difficult transition, and governor of Coventry Technical College for 17 years where he was chairman of the audit committee.
Most notably, as chairman of Coventry Polytechnic, he oversaw its transition to full university status.
This was an exciting, but challenging process, given the need to establish a university with a distinct identity separate from nearby Warwick University, and the university motto Arte et Industria (by art and industry) was suggested by Daphne.
In 1993, he was awarded a CBE for his services to education.
Despite increasing deafness, he maintained an extraordinary zest for life and interest in others.