4:42pm Wednesday 6th February 2013
By Gavin Aitchison
A FORMER York MP who represented the city at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration has died, aged 83.
Charles Longbottom, who died on Tuesday, won York for the Conservatives in 1959 and held it in 1964, before losing to Labour's Alex Lyon in 1966.
He was York MP when the University of York was founded, having stated on his election that he was determined to help it come to fruition.
Mr Longbottom was born in 1930 and educated at Uppingham School in Rutland. He became a barrister and stood unsuccessfully in Stockton on Tees in the 1955 General Election before winning in York in 1959, defeating Labour's Dr Douglas Poirier to become an MP, aged 29.
The Yorkshire Evening Press of October 9, 1959, reported that Mr Longbottom had visited more than 12,000 houses in the 18 months before the election, often exhausting his older party workers.
Speaking after his election, he said: "One idea I think is splendid and which I shall do anything in my power to further, is that York should become a univeristy city."
In 1961, Mr Longbottom was one of four young European politicians invited by the Young Democrats of America to John F. Kennedy's inauguration. He carried a goodwill message from the Lord Mayor of York to the Mayor of New York and he delivered a tribute speech at the York Civic Ball upon hearing of Kennedy's assassination in 1963.
In 1961 he married Anita Trapani, stepdaughter of a Greek shipping magnate, and the couple lived in Bootham. In a letter published in this newspaper after he lost his seat, he praised the local council and civil servants and said it had been a "thrilling and warming experience" to serve the city.
He remained in York for a further year before leaving to pursue business interests, becoming chairman of Austin & Pickersgill shipbuilders in Sunderland and also later A&P Appledore International Ltd. He later moved into financial industries and founded two Christian charities and was made an OBE in 2012.
Keith Wood, who was active in York Young Conservatives in the 1960s, said Mr Longbottom was a young, energetic, charismatic politician who rejuvenated the young party and said he was "a very genuine, very nice guy".
Rev Nadim Nassar, director of the Awareness Foundation, which Mr Longbottom co-founded in 2003 to try to counter religious conflict and violence, said: "He was an extraordinary person. He had in his personality a mixture of enormous experience in world affairs and also being a father figure and a carer for communities and society."
Current York Central MP Hugh Bayley said: "It is a great privilege to be elected to Parliament and especially in the great city of York. The city has grown in influence in the past 50 years and Charles Longbottom played his part in that."
Mr Longbottom is survived by his widow and two daughters.
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