TRIBUTES have been paid to a man who arrived in the south as a prisoner of war, but who became a hugely-respected member of the community.
Werner Eberhardt, known as John, was in the German army during World War Two and was captured by the British and American forces.
He was sent, as a prisoner of war, first to Scotland and then to a camp in Fareham, labouring on the roads and land.
He settled in Southsea because he was unable to go home – his home town having by now become Russian territory behind the Berlin Wall, so he went back to his family’s profession of glass blowing, and set up his first neon and glass business.
It is this for which he probably best known, as the neon Eberhardt sign glows high just off the Rudmore roundabout in Portsmouth.
His granddaughter, Danielle Milasinovic, paid tribute to him both during yesterday’s funeral service in the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth, and afterwards.
She said: ‘He was an inspiration. He came here with nothing but a dream, and he made that dream a reality.’
It was standing room only in the Square Tower for the service, which was conducted by the Royal Navy chaplain Reverend David Stephen Butler.
The congregation heard how John’s passion for the sea began when he settled in Southsea.
He was a member of the Southsea Sub Aqua club in the 1960s, and was associated with the team of divers who were searching for, and eventually found, the Mary Rose.
John married Brenda in 1952 and the couple had daughter Erika and a son, also called John.
John died, aged 88, on October 28 following an illness.
He is survived by John, granddaughters Danielle and Carly, grandson Ryan, and great grandson Luka.
Donations are being accepted in his name to the RNLI.
HAUL AWAY YOUR ANCHOR... IT’S SAILING TIME
THE Royal Navy hymn was sung for John, in a service with a maritime theme.
This was because John’s passion was the sea, and he was a keen yachtsman, enjoyed scuba diving and motor boating. He belonged to an international brotherhood called the Freres de la Cote (Brothers of the Coast), a global organisation for maritime enthusiasts.
Their flag was flown beneath the German flag on the top of the Square Tower, and a eulogy was read by John’s friend, and fellow Frere, Malcolm Hill.
He ended by saying: ‘It’s the evening tide for you. Haul away your anchor.
‘It’s sailing time. Sail on.’