Obituary: Frank Burnet, 94

Frank Burnet
Frank Burnet
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Frank Burnet, a well-respected solicitor, family man and a stalwart of Haddington RFC, has died, aged 94.

Frank was born and lived all his live in Haddington. He was an avid rugby and golf player in his heyday and an instrumental member of Haddington RFC.

He attended Knox Academy and later studied law at the University of Edinburgh. With the start of the Second World War in 1939, he went to France with the British Expeditionary Force as part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. There he was part of the force aiding the French defence. As the German troops swiftly advanced in May 1940, he was evacuated from Dunkirk to Blandford Camp in Southern England, among other 300,000 British and French soldiers.

In June 1944 he was part of the Normandy landings and fought alongside fellow British, Canadian and American forces throughout France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany up until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.

After his return, he continued his law degree. Shortly after graduating he joined the family firm, Stirling & Burnet, as a partner in 1947, where he worked with his uncle David. After his uncle’s passing in 1959, Frank continued as a sole-partner until his retirement in 1983. The firm was acquired by Edinburgh’s Garden Haig law film and soon after re-named Garden Stirling Burnet.

In June 1951 Frank married Nita Nisbet.

A great sports enthusiast, Frank’s main passion was rugby, and he helped to make Haddington RFC what it is today. The club paid tribute to Frank, and described him as their “oldest member and greatest ever servant”.

Frank played the game in the early post-war years, and also served as secretary of the club from 1948 until 1973, as well as treasurer and fixture secretary from 1961 to 1973 – at a time when the club was running five senior teams each week.

Under his watch the club acquired the ownership of the ground from East Lothian Council where the foundations of the clubhouse lie today. In recognition of his contribution, Frank was elected as Honorary President in 1973 and continued in this honorary post until the late-1980s.

A spokesman for the club said: “There is no doubt that Haddington RFC would not be the club that it is today or achieved what is has in its 104-year history had Frank not been involved.

“If ever it was true that a club owed so much to the contribution of one individual then in Haddington’s case that individual must indeed be Frank Burnet.”

Golf was another sport close to his heart. He joined Luffness New Golf Club in the post-war years and remained a member for roughly 60 years.

Towards the end of his life, Frank was cared for at the Florabank Residential Care Home in Haddington as he suffered from vascular dementia. His last days are said to have been peaceful and comfortable.

Frank is survived by his sons, David, Stuart and John, and eight grandchildren, Lydia, Alex, Ross, Mark, Sarah, Rebecca, Natalie and Ian.