In 1998 he became the RAF Commissioner on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and later chaired its remuneration committee. He was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Devon in 2000.
Stear had a lifelong passion for rugby, and as a burly prop forward had represented Cambridge University, the RAF and the Combined Services. He played for Hampshire in the 1962 County Championship final, losing narrowly to Warwickshire at Twickenham. The following year he was in the Combined Services team that played the All Blacks. Later he was involved in coaching the RAF Colts and became chairman and then president of the RAF Rugby Union and president of the Combined Services. Between 1987 and 1998 he was the RAF representative on the Rugby Football Union Committee (later Council) and for his final year served as vice-chairman of the management board.
During his playing days he also represented the United Services, Portsmouth (where he was known as “Piggy” Stear), forming a formidable alliance in the front row with a Royal Marine and a Royal Navy stoker. Some years later, he attended a reunion in Portsmouth, where his former stoker chum greeted him by saying: “Hello Piggy – you must be a friggin’ air marshal by now,” to which the modest Stear replied: “Well yes, I am actually.”
Stear was a man of integrity, determination and courage. A former Chief of the Air Staff said of him: “When the going got tough Mike Stear was the man to be at your shoulder.”
He married Elizabeth “Lizzie” Macrae in 1966, and in retirement he and his wife bought a smallholding near Dulford in Devon, where they kept geese, chickens, and 45 Dutch sheep which they had acquired during their time in Holland “to keep the grass down”. For 40 years they bred golden retrievers. He received devoted support from his wife, and her death in 2015 deeply affected him. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.
Sir Michael Stear, born October 11 1938, died January 5 2020
Click on this link to read the Daily Telegraph’s Obituary:
Click on this link to read Sir Michael’s presentation to the 2009 Association Reunion on the Hunter era between 1965 and 1971: