Aileen Smith, one of the legal experts behind Dundee’s early waterfront regeneration, has died aged 68.
Mrs Smith, formerly principal solicitor for Dundee City Council, was also responsible for the burial of Dundee’s destitute dead, those with no family or friends.
She was known for going to great lengths to discover if they had any faith and would make sure they received an appropriate funeral.
One case was of a Polish officer and ardent royalist who had fought in the war and Mrs Smith managed to track down relatives in Poland.
Mrs Smith was involved in the complex land acquisition at Dundee Waterfront.
She dealt extensively with the legal issues at Dundee’s early Waterfront redevelopment in the late 1970s to 1990s with the relocation of the Discovery, the building of Discovery Point, the site of the old leisure centre, and the development of Riverside Drive within the original Enterprise Zone.
She was an expert in deciphering the complicated historical title deeds of the area, and her work laid the groundwork for the progress which continues today with the current redevelopment, including the V&A.
Aileen Moore Smith, nee Gordon, was born in May 1953 at Craigtoun Maternity Home in St Andrews.
Her parents were Russell and Katherine Gordon. Her father was a chief engineer in the Merchant Navy and this meant he was away at sea for long periods, sometimes accompanied by her mother.
Both Aileen and her younger sister Alexandra spent many school holidays with their beloved grandparents in Anstruther.
Her grandmother Agnes Tod Gordon was one of three sisters, her younger sister of Jessie having been painted by John McGee as the fisher lassie.
Her grandfather James Gordon travelled to Dundee to work each day at Thomson, Shepherd & Co Ltd, jute spinners, Dundee, where he worked as head buyer, and at weekends he was a church treasurer.
Mrs Smith was educated at Ancrum Road Primary School before attending the High School of Dundee.
She loved the classics and did well in these subjects. She was Dux in Latin.
She went on to study law at Edinburgh University between 1970 and 1974, where she obtained a first-class honours degree.
She then commenced her traineeship with Dundee City Council in 1974 and qualified as a solicitor in 1976.
In September 1980 she married Douglas Smith, a director of civil engineering firm Torith, at Strathmartine Road Church. Their daughter Katherine was born in 1982 and May in 1985.
Mrs Smith contributed to Professor A J MacDonald’s Conveyancing Manual (4th edition) which is still the most used book for most conveyancing professionals.
She was also involved in the early years of the Friends of Dundee City Archives. She served on the committee for several years, acted as secretary and was the chair for a number of years.
Mrs Smith was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in her early 50s when she then took early retirement.
However, she did not let this stop her from making the most of her time and was not bitter about the hand that had been dealt to her. She was actively involved in the local Alzheimer’s group, attending art classes and outings.
She also continued to enjoy lunchtime concerts at the Glasite Hall and St Patrick’s Church’s one-hour concerts on Saturdays and she continued to attend trips with Friends of the Archives for as long as she was able, with the help and support of her friends.
As her condition progressed, she needed full-time care which was provided by Tigh Na Muirn Nursing home in Monifieth where she has stayed for the last seven-and-a-half years.
Her daughter, Katherine, also a solicitor, said: “Mum was a great lover of the arts, music, history and enjoyed curling. She loved art exhibitions. She also had an eclectic taste in music, but she was a great lover of classical music, although apparently disliked Mozart. She was an avid reader and often had more than one book on the go at a time.”
A Just Giving page has been set up to raise money for Alzheimer Scotland.