Kirsteen Gibb, a well-known teacher and generous benefactor from Edinburgh, has died, aged 89.
A physical education and dance teacher at St Margaret’s for all her working life, she retained a deep affinity for her old alma mater, St George’s School for Girls, and was one of its most generous benefactors, donating the proceeds of the sale of one of her homes.
The eldest of three children to Robert Stirling Gibb and Claire Gladys Sturrock, she grew up in Trinity and followed in the footsteps of her mother to St George’s School for Girls where Mrs Gibb had been a pupil during the tenure of the school’s first headmistress, Miss Walker.
Founded in 1888, in a converted house in Melville Street, the school was the culmination of a long campaign by a group of women who had been denied access to university. Four years after it opened, Scottish universities finally did admit women and St George’s students were among the first female graduates from Edinburgh University.
Miss Gibb, a keen sportswoman and member of the school’s first XI hockey team, was educated at St George’s from 1929 to 1939.
She studied at the Dunfermline College of Hygiene and Physical Education but this coincided with the Second World War and, when the building was commandeered by the navy, the college transferred to the Teacher Training Centre in Aberdeen.
A born teacher, once qualified she secured a post at St Margaret’s where she remained for her whole career. There she introduced lacrosse and enjoyed a reputation for maintaining high standards with efficiency, elegance, integrity and unfailing courtesy.
It was her mother, a concert pianist, who instilled in her a lifelong love of classical music. Miss Gibb was particularly fond of grand opera and for more than 20 years, from 1955 onwards, she and her widowed mother would make a pilgrimage to Vienna and Salzburg to attend performances of works by Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mozart. She was also a regular at Royal Scottish National Orchestra concerts in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.
Other interests included the Conservative Party and St Cuthbert’s Parish Church in Lothian Road where she was a lifelong member, attended Tuesday coffee mornings until recently and to which she bequeathed £100,000.
A woman of elegant dress sense who was always colour co-ordinated, she loved clothes and would often buy two of each piece – one to wear and one to keep for good.
A striking, fit and athletic figure despite being almost 90, she put her long and healthy life down to no alcohol and a good bracing walk each day, preferably across the Meadows.
She is survived by her niece Jane Scott and nephews Richard Stirling and Jonathan Gibb.