Obituary: John Galloway Wallace, 100

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A former chairman of the Sick Kids Hospital has died at the age of 100.

John Galloway Wallace was born in Kelso on July 3, 1914 and attended the local high school, where he had a particular fondness for languages.

However, he went on to study mathematics and physics at Edinburgh University and graduated in 1935 before joining the Scottish Life Assurance Company as an actuarial student.

John became a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries at the last examinations in 1940 before they ceased until the end of the Second World War.

During the war, he went on to see military action in Europe and North Africa, having omitted to mention his qualification on his forms to enlist, as actuaries were a reserved occupation.

During his wartime travels, he never forgot his actuarial background and made efforts to find actuarial connections wherever he was located.

This was particularly successful in Belgium where he found many actuarial textbooks had been destroyed, so arranged for the Faculty to send some over after the war.

On his return to Scottish Life, he was promoted quickly to a series of different positions until he became general manager in 1956, leading the steadily expanding business for the next 20 years.

One of his major achievements was to mutualise the company, which protected it from hostile bidders. All this time John sat in no ivory tower but was accessible to every member of staff and took an interest in all of them and their families.

He was elected president of the Insurance Society of Edinburgh followed by president of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Great Britain in 1968, the first Edinburgh president for 60 years. In 1973, he was elected president of the Faculty of Actuaries.

He was chairman of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children then treasurer of Lothian Health Board and a member of the Scottish Office health committee, which led to him chairing the sub-committee tasked with preparing health priorities for the 1980s.

All of these contributed to his award of the OBE in 1980.

He married Petricia Dallas in 1941 and had four daughters, Anne, Shona, Helen and Isobel.

After 40 years of very happy married life, he was devastated when his wife died in 1981.

He kept in very close touch with all his family and lived to see ten grandchildren grow up and produce 20 great-grandchildren.

Climbing had been a love all his life and he completed all the Munros, Corbetts and Donalds, as well as the English, Welsh and Irish 3000-footers, finishing in his 80s.

He died peacefully in his own home in Edinburgh, which is what he always wanted, on February 18 and is survived by his four daughters and their families.