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29 January, 2014

John Rainbow

For five decades, my friend and colleague John Rainbow, who has died aged 92, managed the central finances of the Oxford Group, the Christian charity that campaigned under the name of Moral Re-Armament (MRA, now Initiatives of Change). The aim of the charity, formed in 1938 as the second world war loomed and nations re-armed themselves militarily, was to build "a hate-free, fear-free, greed-free world".

John Rainbow
John Rainbow
John joined the group's board of trustees in 1976 and served on it until 1993. As chief accountant he thought carefully about the individuals who donated money and one of his top priorities was thanking them immediately. He was also keen to keep them informed about news and events. His work was founded on his personal faith.

Many colleagues had stories of going to John with a project dear to their hearts, believing that it justified help from central funds. His blunt but caring Yorkshire response was often that they needed to find inspiration from God on an alternative way to raise the money themselves.

John was born in Wetherby, Yorkshire, the son of a shopkeeper. He attended Knaresborough grammar school and studied to become a chartered accountant in Leeds. During the war he served as a staff sergeant in the army in Italy and was mentioned in dispatches. He was keen on sport and a lifelong fan of Leeds United.

He married Betty Springall in 1965.

Through his friendship with the Essex batsman TC "Dickie" Dodds, he met Conrad Hunte, vice-captain of the West Indies cricket team in the 1960s, and they became close friends. After Hunte retired from cricket in 1967, John and Betty joined him in his campaign for racial reconciliation in Britain. It was a response to the growing racial tensions and riots of the time.

John and Betty had lived happily in Twickenham, south-west London, for the past 20 years. Betty survives him.

Ivan Poulton

This article first appeared on The Guardian website on 26 January 2014

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