Obituary: Ian MacDonald, former teacher, 101

Ian trained as a piano and organ tuner before turning to teaching

Ian trained as a piano and organ tuner before turning to teaching

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Tributes have been paid to much-loved former teacher Ian MacDonald who has died aged 101.

Born and bred in Edinburgh, Ian spent 27 years as technical master at Keil School in Dumbarton, near Glasgow, before retiring to Corstorphine.

Born in Bellevue Road, his father ran a light engineering and model-making business in Frederick Street.

In 1917, the family moved to Newbridge where Ian attended Ratho Primary School.

Then, travelling by train to Edinburgh, he attended secondary school at the Royal High School.

The family again moved, this time to Corstorphine around 1930.

Ian started learning his trade as a piano and organ tuner and restorer with music house Methven Simpson.

He was proficient at playing both instruments and moved to London to continue his trade until 1940 when he joined the Royal Air Force.

He trained as a wireless operator and was stationed in South Africa until 1945, flying as an operator in planes teaching air crew.

He returned to Methven Simpson and, in 1947, was the standby instrument technician retuning the instruments at the Usher Hall during the early days of the Edinburgh Festival.

In 1948 he took advantage of the scheme to train returning servicemen, and studied technical drawing and woodwork at a college in Aberdeen.

After completing the course, he was appointed to the position of technical master at Keil School, Dumbarton, in 1950 and remained there until his retirement in 1977.

As well as teaching, he showed a keen interest in the wider aspects of school life, attending athletics meetings where he used his blanked-off revolver as a starting pistol.

Members of the sailing club also found him a useful sounding board when carrying out maintenance on their boats.

He continued to play golf regularly into his late 80s and in recent years he moved – along with his sister Mary – to a care home at Murrayfield.

He had two sisters – Barbara, who died aged 101 in 2007, and Mary, who died aged 98. Neither Ian nor his sisters married.

Many who attended his workshop classes took something away that would stand them in good stead in later life, be it a simple DIY repair or woodwork as a hobby acting as a stress reliever to corporate life.

Ian was known as a very lively and able centenarian, fondly relaying stories of his time at Keil and its more famous or notorious pupils.

Amongst friends and former pupils he was known as a wise man who would take time to explain matters, he was straightforward in his approach to life, with few hidden agendas, if any, and will always be remembered by those he taught.