Obituary: Marshall Napier, sailor, 84

Marshall Napier was committed to the Seagull Trust. Picture: comp
Marshall Napier was committed to the Seagull Trust. Picture: comp
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An Edinburgh businessman and award-winning sailor has died at the age of 84.

Marshall Napier was born in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, on May 12, 1930, and grew up in Kilcreggan. He attended Glasgow Academy, followed by Greenock Academy from 1940 onwards.

He met his wife Dorothy when they were both still children on the ferry to Greenock Academy, and the two went on to marry in 1953.

After school, Marshall went to the Royal College in Glasgow and studied textiles and needlework, before joining the international textile giant Paton and Baldwins in Alloa.

He spent two years working in top London store Selfridges, based in the trouser department and on the needlework counter before moving to the wages department.

But he would soon return to the family firm of John Smith, which then owned stores trading in woollen goods but would later become better known as a property investment company based in Edinburgh’s West End.

Outside of his work, Marshall was an enthusiastic supporter of the Seagull Trust – a charity that provides free cruises on Scotland’s canals for people with special 

His contribution to the trust’s work was recognised in 2007 when his name was added to its roll of honour.

Marshall was also a keen sailor in his own right and a noted member of the Royal Forth Yacht Club, where he was appointed Commodore and Admiral.

He won several prestigious sailing events over the course of his life, including the North Sea Championships in San Franscisco.

In 1976, he skippered one of the Scottish boats – his own Mighty Mo – that competed in three international sailing matches against the US in Oyster Bay, Long Island.

While fiercely competitive, Marshall was known for his scrupulously fair approach to the sport and his level-headed outlook inspired an unusual loyalty in those who sailed with him.

And sailing is a passion he has done his best to pass down to his grandchildren, often collecting them from school and whisking them off for a spin in his boat.

When he wasn’t taking to the water, Marshall could most often be found on the rugby field, playing for Saracens when in London and the Greenock Wanderers when back home in Glasgow.

For many years, he was a steward at Murrayfield on international days and enjoyed welcoming friends back to his house on nearby Cumlodden Avenue after matches.

Towards the end of his life, Marshall’s health began to fail him, and he spent much of his time caring for beloved wife Dorothy, who was diagnosed with dementia seven years ago.

He died on November 19 this year, in Edinburgh.