Known for his sense of fun and zest for life, former Scots Guard and special constable David McRae has died aged 81.
The Son of Margaret (nee Donnelly), a jute worker, and stonemason David Simpson McRae, David was born at home in Ellengowan Drive on June 1, 1940.
Along with his younger sister Margaret, he would live there until he was six when the family moved to Glamis Road.
A popular child, he would often be found playing outside with the rest of the kids on the street. His love of cowboys and Indians was a precursor to a future career in law enforcement.
He would remain in his Glamis Road home until he joined the Scots Guards.
Troublesome teen years
Despite his warm nature and likeability, becoming a teenager wasn’t without its challenges for Dave.
Hiding his lack of confidence behind his Teddy Boy clothes and haircut may have worked for 14-year-old Dave, but it didn’t go down quite so well with his dad.
In fact, his slicked back coiffure saw him thrown out of the family home at which point he found board and lodgings on a pig farm.
Reflecting on Dave’s time with them the farmer is reported to have said: “He was a hard worker but we’d rather have paid him as he ate us out of house and home.”
Inspired by his Gordon Highlander father, Dave also pursued a military career joining the 1st Battalion Scots Guards on March 2, 1959 serving in Aldershot, Germany and Malaya.
Never one to turn down something for free, not even his soldier’s uniform could keep him out of trouble as a young guardsman visiting London.
A wine tasting event was too good to refuse. But three pints of port later he had to explain himself to his commanding officer having been found somewhat the worse for wear on the streets of the capital.
His only defence was that his mum and aunties used to favour a wee glass of port at Christmas, ‘so how strong could it be?’
First and only love
In 1960 Dave met Eileen Douglas, a friend of his sister.
Their long-term romance would flourish despite getting off to a rocky start.
A planned romantic bike ride in the country went awry when, in his own words: “Eileen decided to use her face as a brake!”
Flying over the handle bars and into the ground, he apparently knew she was the one for him because he still loved her despite the fact her face “was like a pound of mince”.
The couple married in Balgay Parish Church, Dundee, on January 6, 1962.
Life on foreign shores
As a young couple embracing army life their relationship went from strength to strength with tales of fun-filled adventures never far from Dave’s lips when he recalled those early years.
The couple’s daughter Alison was born on March 4, 1964 in Aldershot and a move for the family to British Malaya came shortly after.
Their days in the humid climes of what’s now known as Malaysia were happy ones and the couple celebrated their wedding anniversary while stationed abroad
Demobbed Dundee driver
On February 6, 1968 Dave returned to civilian life, moving his young family to Dundee’s Kinnaird Street.
They were joined by Lynda, their second daughter, on December 17, 1969, having moved to Honeygreen Road shortly before her birth.
His employment post-army became a variation on a theme with stints driving lorries, buses, taxis and even a hearse.
He also became a police civilian driver and in 1975, on the encouragement of fellow former Scots Guard Willie Hunter, joined Tayside Police Special Constabulary.
The voluntary position would be one of Dave’s passions for almost three decades to come and would lead to lifelong friendships.
Dog handling and Disastrous Dave
Among those friendships was that Iain McNicoll. The pair met when Iain joined the dog handling section of the police department, where Dave was already involved.
Iain said: “Dave became like an extended member of my family.
“Since meeting all those years ago when we both were involved with dog handling, he’s been part of my life. He’s a huge loss. A tremendous loss.
“He loved animals to the point he couldn’t even watch nature documentaries because there was too much death.
“I’ll remember Dave for being happy, fun-loving, always a source of humour – usually at his own expense – but also as someone who was so committed to Dundee. He volunteered for years in any way he could. He gave his all.”
Happy to always raise a smile, Dave earned himself a reputation for all things daft.
Whether it was driving a bus onto the sand, an incident involving a water slide on holiday or forgetting his own age when called upon to give evidence in court, ‘Disastrous Dave’ was a firm favourite of all who knew and loved him.
In later years Dave worked in Debenhams providing security but of all his roles he was happiest at home with his family.
Picnics, board games, walking Sheba their dog, helping anyone who needed it, as well as family trips to Butlins and beyond his favourite times were with his best friend and love of his life, Eileen.
In September 1993 when she sadly passed away, Dave was never the same. Keeping the family home like a time capsule helped him feel close to his wife right up until his own death.
After Eileen died, Dave spent time at Morgan Rugby Club and The Black Watch Club playing snooker.
He also bought a motorbike which he used well into his 70s, despite the wider family’s attempts to get him off it.
His love of his time dog handling meant he maintained his interest in that field, staying part of the Scottish Alsatian, Sheep Police and Army Dog Society (ASPADS).
Lynda said: “Dad’s legacy was to pass on his love of animals to the family, and how kindly to treat other people. I felt incredibly lucky he was my dad.”
Son-in-law Andy Goudie said: “No-one who met Dave wouldn’t have a funny story about him. He found humour in almost any situation and had a gift of making people laugh with his many tales of woe and disaster.
“I think we will all miss his unique outlook on life… his sense of contentment but adventurous spirit, and his feeling of being and having enough.”
Eileen’s waiting for me
Dave his survived by Lynda and Andy, his six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Although he wasn’t a religious man, he did have a strong belief in the afterlife.
Reflecting on his time in the army when Eileen would often travel ahead of him setting up their home brought Dave comfort.
“It was this thought – that Eileen had gone ahead to set up the next life for them – that kept him going,” Andy added. “While he was in no doubt that a lecture or two would be waiting, he was most looking forward to a cuddle from his one and only love.”