John Hugh Dart
John Dart was born in 1931 at Exeter to Redvers and Florence Dart. Just a few months later the family moved to north China, where his father worked as a hospital administrator and his mother as matron in a Christian hospital.
John returned with his sister Jean to England in 1939 and was for the rest of the war separated from his parents. As a boarder at Eltham College he picked up his love for music, cricket and rugby, as well as excelling academically. He went on to study history at Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he captained his college cricket team and led the Christian Union.
After graduating he taught at Maidstone College. He married Margaret (Margot) Thomas in 1956 at the East London Tabernacle. He became father to Joy, Gareth and Susan; and, later, grandfather to Laurel, Owen and Mathilde.
Between 1962 and 1974 John Dart taught at Barry Bible College, where he was noted for his warm, careful and accurate exposition of the Bible and the winning way he lived out its truth. He had an extensive preaching ministry in South Wales and beyond.
In 1974 he was called as pastor to Tilehurst Free Church, Reading. During his ten years there the congregation grew considerably and the church became a fiercesome force on the cricket pitches of west Reading!
The church reluctantly allowed him to move to Leominster Baptist Church, where he continued until 1989. From there he moved to a roving, pastoral position with SIM.
For the next ten years, as members of Highfields Free Church, Cardiff, John and Margot visited and supported missionaries and nationals in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Paraguay, Pakistan and Nepal. They also spent time in Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Sudan, where they ministered to the suffering church.
In recent years, ill health caused John to slow down considerably but to the end he was counsellor and friend to many. On 28 April, while out on a walk, he was struck down by a car and died instantly.
His thanksgiving service was attended by well over 400 people. There was a unanimous sense that he ‘walked with God and was not, for God took him’. Tributes were paid by his family, David Smith, (Glasgow, and one of John’s students at Barry), Marion Marrett (Tilehurst), Aubrey Roberts (Leominster) and Alistair Hornel (SIM).