Obituary: Jean Smith, journalist, 80

Jean Smith
Jean Smith
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TRIBUTES have been paid to former Scotsman journalist Jean Smith after she died suddenly at her Edinburgh home, aged 80.

Miss Smith spent most of her adult life in the Capital, where she first came from Glasgow after transferring to the Edinburgh office of The Herald.

She later joined The Scotsman as a reporter and regular feature writer, and was one of only a small number of women to forge a career in newspapers at a time when the profession was dominated by men.

Her regular contributions meant that her name became familiar with readers, and she enjoyed the many opportunities her job gave her to write about her interests. These included travel, the various aspects of the food industry and the arts.

After retiring, Miss Smith became actively involved in a diverse range of societies, including The Old Town Association, the Carlyle Society and The Malt Whisky Society. She often invited friends to be her guest at The Malt Whisky Society’s premises and, before she died, had planned to entertain a former journalist colleague at Leith’s Vaults the day before they were both to attend the annual Christmas lunch of the Scotsman Pensioners’ Club.

Born in Glasgow in 1931, Miss Smith was the only daughter of Richard Smith and Jean Gilmour. She went to Hutchesons’ Girls Grammar School before going on to study history at Glasgow University, where she graduated with an MA with honours. Her first job was in 1959 at the Glasgow Herald in the library, but she soon became a reporter.

Her family’s connection with the art world was something Miss Smith was particularly proud of. Her mother’s aunts were Margaret and Mary Gilmour, otherwise known as the Gilmour Sisters, who were prominent members of the Glasgow Girls, the group of Glasgow College of Art students who came to the fore during the innovative art and design developments of 1880-1920.

Their distinctive enamel-decorated metalwork pieces are much sought-after and continue to be in demand for exhibitions of The Glasgow Style. Other prominent artists to define this style include The Four, of which Charles Rennie Mackintosh was one.

On the death of her parents, Miss Smith and her brother, Richard, decided to keep the family flat on the south side of Glasgow, and she became a regular traveller to the city by bus. Her frequent visits enabled her to keep in touch with old friends and with developments at her old school. She also took part in the activities of the Glasgow University Graduates’ Association, which included a trip to New York on one of the QE2’s final voyages.

Miss Smith has been described as “a loyal friend to many”, and her sudden and untimely death has come as a shock to friends and family.