Dr John Blair, a surgeon at Perth Royal Infirmary for nearly three decades, has died aged 94.
He was also an author, a Territorial Army officer, member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, and served as a Kirk elder for 60 years.
John Blair, who died peacefully at Perth Royal Infirmary on June 12, was born in Wormit on Hogmanay, 1928.
His father was clerk to the income tax commissioners and his mother was Irish/Argentinian, which led to a lifelong interest in his family in that part of the world.
He was the dux of the High School of Dundee in 1946, but due to shortages of gold at the time, he did not receive the medal until the first decade of the 21st century.
At that school prizegiving ceremony, the rector said it was the first, and almost certainly the only, time that the dux had been presented with his medal accompanied by his wife and one of his children.
John studied medicine at St Andrews, where he was a Harkness Scholar, graduating in 1951.
A career in surgery followed, initially in England but latterly in Dundee and, principally, at Perth Royal Infirmary between 1965 and his retirement in 1991.
He also served in various honorary academic posts at the universities of Dundee and St Andrews. He was also made an honorary member of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, a relatively unusual award for a surgeon, and was made a Fellow of the BMA in 1991.
His son, Alastair, said: “As a surgeon, he was not infrequently accosted by former patients while walking down the High Street in Perth.
“Invariably, they would approach him to say, ‘Mr Blair, you saved my life when you …’ Unfortunately, as his work usually involved looking at every part of their body other than their face, he often struggled to put a name to them.”
In addition to his MB ChB degree and ChM, John was also awarded an external degree in history from the University of London in 1955. In 1991 he was awarded an honorary DLitt from St Andrews University.
A keen golfer, John was a member of the R&A and Blairgowrie Golf Club for many decades.
He was likewise one of the oldest members of the Royal Perth Golfing Society, where he was captain in 1999-2000 and became an honorary life member in 2013.
During his time as captain, he was involved in the club’s sale of some of its old, hickory-shafted clubs, one of which, a putter, fetched a then record price of £106,000.
He had a keen interest in all sports, including rugby and football and for several years was a season ticket holder at McDiarmid Park, home of St Johnstone.
He used to say that this gave him extra credibility with the porters at PRI, because he was able to join in their conversations about how St Johnstone had been doing the previous Saturday.
Parallel to his career in medicine, and after his National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps, John spent many years in the Territorial Army, commanding St Andrews (which subsequently became Tayforth) Officer Training Corps and then 225 Field Ambulance in Dundee. In 1971 he was awarded an OBE for his services to the TA.
John worshipped in Aberdalgie Parish Church for many years and was an elder of the Church of Scotland. A few years ago he received a certificate in recognition of his long service as an elder.
He lived on the Glasgow Road, Perth, from 1965 until the time of his death.
After retiring, he developed his interests in history and medicine, becoming world vice-president of the International Society for the History of Medicine as well as being the Hospitaller of the Scottish Priory of the Order of St John.
John was a prolific writer of both books and academic papers, including the Centenary History of the RAMC and the History of the Medical Faculty at St Andrews University.
He also wrote a short book called The Conscript Doctors, based on memories of contributors to the RAMC book, as well as Ten Tayside Doctors, his personal take on the life and work of some of his colleagues over the years whose careers were particularly varied and interesting.
John Blair married Ailsa Bowes in 1953: she predeceased him in 2013. They had three children, Michael, Alastair and Anne, six grandchildren, Peter, Andrew, Douglas, Stuart, Georgia and Patrick, and four great-grandchildren, Alexandra, Katie, Sam and Ailsa.
After a private family funeral on the morning of July 7, there will be a memorial service for Dr John Blair at 2.30pm at Aberdalgie Parish Church. Family, friends and indeed former patients will all be made very welcome.
You can read the family’s announcement here.