Nigel Renton of Berkeley passed away from complications of COVID-19 on Jan. 10. The prominent insurance executive and noted Episcopalian layman was 93. He was a veteran of World War II.
He was born Nigel A Lindsey-Renton in England on Feb. 10, 1927. His father George, born in 1858, was a timber merchant in London; Nigel’s mother, the nurse Blanche née Auld, was George’s second wife. Nigel served on the HMS Norfolk as a midshipman toward the end of World War II and he later served in the Pacific as an officer in the sloop Black Swan. He resigned his commission in 1948 and attended Lincoln College, Oxford University with a degree in English Literature.
After graduation, he worked providing public relations for the Royal Globe Insurance Company. As part of his duties, Nigel felt he might as well learn something about insurance.
In 1957, Nigel emigrated to the United States with his wife, Lola née Cadman. He dropped his hyphenated last name of Lindsey-Renton for the simpler Renton. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to cultivate an American accent.
Nigel joined a small insurance agency in Oakland, and became its leader in the mid-1960’s. The firm, eventually named Dealey, Renton & Associates, specialized in Professional Liability, with an emphasis on Design Professionals such as Architects and Engineers, and became the leading agency of its type in California.
Nigel emerged as a prominent lay leader in The Episcopal Church after settling in California, and was involved in Episcopal Church politics on the national level starting in 1982, acquiring the nickname “The Terminator” for his success in drawing debate to a close. His activity in Church governance included a passion for the development of Episcopal liturgy and worship.
After a divorce, Nigel married Barbara Lewis in 1970. Barbara, a Berkeley High School biology teacher, had four children of her own, and together with Nigel’s two, they formed a large loving blended family. Barbara and Nigel had a loving and teasing relationship. Family meals could become the “Barbara & Nigel Show”, with much parrying back and forth. Barbara was often the instigator, and Noble Nigel would take it, take it, take it, before responding with a riposte of his own—all done with a twinkle in his eye.
He was enthusiastic patron of local classical music groups such as the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & the New Esterhazy Quartet. An avid world traveler with Barbara throughout his life, he became increasingly frail and homebound, and in his later years, he lost the ability to walk and stand up on his own. He suffered from congestive heart failure, and after contracting COVID-19, he survived for three weeks.
Nigel is survived by his wife, Barbara. He leaves two sons, Jeremy and Nicholas, and is survived by grandchildren Margaret, Anna, Gwynneth, Thomas, and Fiona. He was a loving father to Barbara’s Lewis children: Kristin, Laurie, Lisa, and Brian, a doting grandfather to his grandchildren Justine (Lewis) Clifford, and Chloe Woodruff née Forsman and Shannon Forsman, and great-grandfather to Holden and Jackson Clifford. He further acted as grandfather to Karen and Alison Benke, the stepdaughters of his stepson Brian, and as great-grandfather to Collin Prell, son of Karin Benke. He was predeceased by his sisters Margaret Cobbold and Evelyn Savage, and half-siblings Reginald, Leslie, Violet Robertson, Olive Robertson and Madge. With his Lindsey-Renton half-siblings, he had living great-nephews and nieces, great-great nephews and nieces, and great-great-great nephews and nieces, scattered across the globe.