Obituary: Chris Oliver, 87

Chris Oliver's teaching career spanned 40 years. Picture: comp
Chris Oliver's teaching career spanned 40 years. Picture: comp
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Chris Oliver, a highly regarded chemistry teacher, has died aged 87.

Born in Edinburgh on May 11, 1928, Chris and his twin brother, Robert, spent their early childhood in Aberdeen and Liverpool before air raids on Merseyside prompted their evacuation to Edinburgh. They attended Daniel Stewart’s College, where their uncle, Dr John Oliver, was head of the English department.

In 1950, Chris graduated from Edinburgh University with first class honours in chemistry and embarked on national service in the Canal Zone in Egypt, where he was commissioned in the Royal Corps of Signals.

After national service, he joined the Territorial Army, attaining the rank of major and participating wholeheartedly in its various activities, including the annual camp. When the Territorials became the TAVR, he became the first commanding officer of 61 Signals Squadron. He maintained his military links through retirement and the last two years of his life were spent in the Edinburgh Erskine Home.

In 1953, after a year’s teacher training at Moray House, he began his career at Dunfermline High School. There he met a colleague, maths teacher Aileen Barclay, from Rosyth, whom he married in 1962.

In 1963, he left Dunfermline to take up a post in Edinburgh at his old school, Daniel Stewart’s College, where he would remain for 30 years through its amalgamation in 1973, becoming Stewart’s Melville College. Prior to amalgamation, he was deputy head of science and assistant principal teacher of chemistry.

He refereed rugby, umpired cricket and officiated at athletics contests. From 1970, he organised the annual sports day, which was a hugely demanding logistical undertaking. In 1978, he became housemaster of Tay House and in 1980 he and Aileen took over the responsibility of running the school boarding house, Dean Park House. This required them to live there as a family, by now with their three daughters. They created a supportive, homelike environment for the 70 or so pupils from all over the globe.

Sadly, this came to an end in 1987 when Aileen died. Chris and his daughters returned to live in their home in Craigleith, where he remained until about two years ago.

Rather reluctantly, he retired in 1993 but then undertook preparation and marking of exam papers, as well as invigilating duties.

He delighted in spending time with grandchildren Andrew and James and the rest of his family. He played golf at the Merchants club in Edinburgh, went on walking holidays abroad with his twin and was very involved with Stockbridge Church where he was an elder and treasurer for years, was a regular supporter of Stewart’s Melville rugby team at Inverleith and organised educational cruises for school parties to the Baltic and Mediterranean.

He is survived by daughters Christine, Kathryn and Hazel, as well as his grandchildren.