Louis Calvete obituary

My father, Louis Calvete, who has died aged 94, worked for the chemical company ICI for 35 years. He joined its plastics division in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, in 1946 as an industrial chemist in the research department, where he worked on high-pressure polymerisation, including the development of glue for adhesive labels.

Louis created new dyes to produce coloured perspex, which was becoming extensively used during the 1950s and 60s. He later moved into management services, where he used his knowledge of statistics to establish the new computer programming systems, and then finally to overseas sales, with responsibility for Central and South America and West Africa.

Louis was born during a storm, at University College hospital, London, to Basque parents, Ramos (nee Ruiz de Galaretta) and Isidoro Calvete, and was proud of his heritage. He attended Wimbledon Park school and Emanuel school in south-west London, then Kimbolton school in Cambridgeshire.

He spent the second world war years in Ecuador. His father, a pacifist and anarchist, having been influenced by his personal experience of wartorn Spain and France, decided to sell his business, which manufactured hairdressing equipment, and emigrate. The Basque government in exile in London were hoping to rehouse Basques in Ecuador and Isidoro took on the role of organising this. During Louis’ time in Ecuador he worked at a pharmacy and at the British Legation as a bilingual assistant to the press secretary.

On returning to postwar Britain in 1946, Louis secured work at ICI and also resumed his studies, which had been cut short when the family left for Ecuador, gaining a bachelors’ degree in chemistry through part-time study at the University of London.

Following his early retirement from ICI in 1980, he made full use of his language skills by working as a London Blue Badge guide, a Saga tour guide and a technical translator. He then had the opportunity to pursue his interest in walking and completed the Pennine Way, the Ridgeway and Offa’s Dyke. He did not confine his interests to the sciences – his appreciation of the arts included most genres of classical music and art. He was also a huge fan of the Goons and a lifelong vegetarian.

In 2006 he published Permanent Waving, The Golden Years, an account of his father’s involvement in the hairdressing business during the interwar years.

His wife of 60 years, Roslyn (nee Rix), died in 2016; he is survived by two daughters, Joanne and me, and two grandsons.