Obituary: Ronnie Will, 96

Ronald Will

Ronald Will

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A former pupil of Merchiston Castle School who went on to serve as a governor for 20 years has died at the age of 96.

Ronnie Will was also a highly respected legal figure, and a great advocate of the outdoor life.

Born in Edinburgh in 1918, his early days were spent in Dumfriesshire, his father being a Writer to the Signet in Dumfries.

When war broke out, he joined up and was commissioned in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, with whom he saw action at Dunkirk. He became a major in a deception unit called R Force for which he was mentioned in despatches and ended the war in headquarters in Berlin.

It was not until the war ended in 1945 that he was able to think about a career, and it took him only two years at Edinburgh University to qualify as a solicitor.

He proved to be a student of such distinction that he was invited to undertake teaching for the university and for the Law Society.

In 1950 he became a partner in the firm of Davidson & Syme, which later merged with Dundas & Wilson. In this firm he was eventually to become senior partner.

The high standing in which he was regarded in the profession was marked in 1975 when he was appointed Deputy Keeper of Her Majesty’s Signet, which office he held until 1983 when he retired from practice.

While partners in law firms today tend to specialise in a particular aspect of the law, colleagues have told how Ronnie was capable of covering the broad spectrum of legal work, from acting for major insurance companies and banks to being the family lawyer to clients who included farmers, estate owners and many leading Scottish families.

In addition to his legal work, he held directorships in a number of companies, including The Scottish Investment Trust PLC and was chairman of Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society.

He also served on the Council on Tribunals, acting as chairman of its Scottish Committee.

In 1953, Ronnie married Joyce Stevenson (of the family of lighthouse builders and Robert Louis Stevenson) and 61 years of happy married life began.

They had two sons, one of whom was to become the fifth generation of practising solicitors.

A man of many interests, he knew and loved the hills of Scotland, was a keen gardener, and enjoyed fishing and shooting.

Yet notwithstanding all these and his professional activities and directorships, for him family was all.

Although in his latter years, deafness and mobility problems were a handicap, he took the greatest interest in his family and five grandchildren. In his late 80s, his life was transformed by the gift of an iPad, which he used to keep in touch with his extended family of grandchildren, nephews and nieces.

He passed away on September 11 in Gullane.