Obituary: Kerry Napuk, social activist, 74

AN American-born business mentor and social activist has died in the Capital at the age of 74.
Kerry Napuk helped Mammas restaurant in Grassmarket. Picture: contributedKerry Napuk helped Mammas restaurant in Grassmarket. Picture: contributed
Kerry Napuk helped Mammas restaurant in Grassmarket. Picture: contributed

Kerry Napuk was born in the town of Great Falls, Montana, on October 5, 1939 and brought up in San Francisco.

He studied at the University of California at Berkeley and graduated with a degree in business administration and a masters on economics.

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Mr Napuk spent a year working as a national trainee of union umbrella group AFL-CIO in Washington DC before being appointed research director at the meat industry union United Packinghouse Workers in China.

Union work was left behind him in 1969 when he moved to become the project manager at the California Steam Bus project, which saw steam-powered buses trialled in a White House-sponsored bid to cut pollution.

While Mr Napuk believed the experiment to be successful – a conclusion he noted in his report – the project was scrapped, something he blamed on lobbying by the motoring industry.

It was during his spell in California that he met his English wife, Angela. They married and moved to Britain in 1973 before settling in the Borders, where daughter Sarah and son David were born.

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The family moved to Edinburgh in 1985 and Mr Napuk became a board member at Insider Publications, which had just launched Scottish Business Insider.

He acted as a mentor to the firm’s founders – a role he held until the company was sold at the turn of the millennium.

Mr Napuk’s expertise also helped Mamma’s restaurant in the Grassmarket get off the ground and prove to be a hit amongst the Capital’s culinary offering.

He was an investor and director until the restaurant was sold in 1994. It remains a renowned establishment in the city today.

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He served on the board of many firms, including the Midland Bank in Newcastle and went on to write and publish a book entitled The Strategy-Led Business.

After falling ill, Mr Napuk became a committed member of the Edinburgh and Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group.

He took a leading role in organising a major conference held in the Capital in 2009, which focused on all aspects of the condition. While he battled cancer, Mr Napuk developed an extensive knowledge of what he was up against.

His own research was so thorough, in fact, that one medical specialist visiting the Capital asked a colleague from the Western General Hospital whether Mr Napuk was an oncologist.

A man who loved food, music and politics, Mr Napuk died on August 28. He is survived by wife Angela, son David and grandson Jack.

His daughter, Sarah, predeceased him in 1997.