Obituary: Dr Robert JM Crawford, 87

Dr Robert Crawford. Picture: comp
Dr Robert Crawford. Picture: comp
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DAIRY consultant Dr Robert JM Crawford has died in Edinburgh at the age of 87.

Mankind has known for centuries how to make cheese and butter but it was only last century that the skills needed for these processes moved from traditional knowledge into modern science.

One of those at the forefront of the change, Dr Robert “Bob” Crawford, shared his scientific knowledge of milk production and the various dairy products of cheese, butter and yoghurt both in Scotland and in many countries around the world. His expertise encouraged international agencies such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation, the British Council and the World Bank to sponsor his visits to parts of the globe where his knowledge was taken up by local people.

Bob Crawford’s life started on his parents’ family farm on the Isle of Cumbrae, in the Firth of Clyde. Four years later, the family moved to a new farm at Leswalt, Wigtownshire. After attending Stranraer High School, Bob went up to Glasgow University, where he was awarded a BSc degree in agriculture in 1949.

He followed this with a Diploma in dairying at the West of Scotland College of Agriculture at Auchincruive, Ayrshire.

He started work in the Milk Utilisation Department and ten years later he had risen to become head of that department, which by then was called Dairy Technology.

As a lecturer, his easy, approachable style made him a favourite with students while his meticulous approach and inquiring mind made him the driving force behind a series of scientific papers. These in turn saw him recognised beyond the Auchincruive campus and soon he was taking up external appointments as honorary lecturer at both Strathclyde and Glasgow universities.

Early in his professional career, Bob became a member of a number of scientific organisations, most notably the Society of Dairy Technology, where he soon moved on to be a member of council prior to becoming its president in 1967-8.

His first foreign consultancy work came in 1970, when the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN sent him to Valdivia in Chile to help develop educational programmes.

Apart from his all-consuming work, his life centred on his family and to a lesser extent his garden and to an even smaller degree his golf at Prestwick St Nicholas.

He met his wife, Audrey, on campus when she was working as a milk officer for the local authority. Together in the family home in Ayr they brought up their three sons, Keith, Gregor and Duncan, who in turn brought home their wives and more recently their children and grandchildren. While Bob might have enjoyed a post-retirement career as a dairy consultant, this option was curtailed through caring for Audrey, who died in 2001.

Bob died in Edinburgh on October 7.