Donald Sheriff who has died aged 88, is survived by wife Thelma and leaves sons Fraser and Stephen. His funeral service will be held on Tuesday 27th November at 13.20, Bishopthorpe Crematorium, York.
Younger son of of Nelly and Albert Sheriff, he was educated at Owler Lane Grammar school Sheffield where he obtained high scores in School Certificate. This enabled him to study at Sheffield Technical College. Of note was his ability at science, mathematics and sport, especially school football where he grew up with and played alongside the man who would become Sheffield Wednesday star, Derek Dooley; indeed he was worthy of mention in Dooley's autobiography of 2006.
His first employment was at Davey United Engineering in Sheffield where he worked as a draftsman. His natural skills at everything in the engineering world as well as being a first rate mathematician enabled him to move freely between work positions. A milestone in his engineering career came with a move to the planning department at Sheffield City Council in the early sixties. Here, he was able to exercise his architectural design and civil engineering skills to the full. He became a reference by which others would judge themselves, leaving nothing in the structure of building and civil engineering work in the city to risk. In the early seventies he worked closely with eminent civil engineer Dr. Wilfred Eastwood with whom he became responsible for structural integrity at public places within the city. He won several contracts from prominent engineering firms in and around Sheffield and there was to be many a night where burning the midnight oil at 34 Carrville drive became the norm; the whole place would turn into an engineering drawing workshop piled high with punch cards, paper tape and drawing boards.
Perhaps the main contribution at Sheffield Town Hall was his pioneering work in the late sixties and early seventies in the development of computer programs which were used to solve the laborious engineering problems associated with the safety and loading of structures. He spent many a battle with the bureaucrats who were in charge of administering the -at the time- state of the art main-frame computer. At one stage he hacked the system so that his department's programs took priority over the council payroll, resulting in everyone being paid late. Of all those who jumped on the computer bandwagon, he was probably the only person who knew how to use it properly.
His peers described him as the engineer's engineer. Leaving no stone un turned and such was his dedication to the safety and well being of others, he halted work on the controversial subway system which was to be installed in Sheffield City Centre in the mid seventies until the plans were changed to include extra reinforcement to overhead tunnelling.
His last major contribution to Sheffield life came as recently as 2015 when he meticulously prepared evidence for the second inquest to the Hillsborough Stadium disaster of 1989. In so doing he clarified many of the unanswered questions from the first hearing.
Outside work he was a keen photographer and interior designer, winning an award for fireplace design in House and Garden Magazine. He made his first visit to Spain in 1969 and was a regular visitor ever since. He built up an extensive library of reference material upon Spanish History and became fascinated by Spanish culture. For a visitor to the country, his level of Spanish was remarkably good much of which he owed to the patience of the staff at Hotel Don Pancho in Benidorm. No one escaped his quest for the language, from those on the reception desk, to the chamber maids. Always the engineer and much to his credit, he learned enough Spanish engineering terminology to become casually involved in Spanish building work, always at pains to explain his point of view where what he saw differed from his own rigorous adherence to current building regulations. Although officially on holiday, he became an infamous visitor to many a Spanish building site. In 2015 The Queen sent a card offering her congratulations upon 60 years of marriage, a rare event these days.
Hasta siempre padre. Que descanses en paz.