Dennis Beattie had been a fisherman, engineer, lifeboat man, businessman and Rotarian but above all else, he was just a remarkable character.
Dennis, who has died in his 80th year, was born into an Arbroath fishing family and born it, seems, with enterprise in his blood.
He might be remembered as the skipper of the pleasure craft Girl Katherine but his fleet of boats also carried out bridge inspections in the Tay and Forth.
Arbroath was his base until 2003 when he moved to Newburgh. There he became as embedded in the community as he had been in Angus.
Dennis operated his business from up the river.
He took visitors out on wildlife trips on the Maid of the Tay and became heavily involved in Howe of Fife Rotary Club.
He was the younger son of Henry Beattie and Alexina Swankie’s two boys.
Dennis grew up and lived another 23 years of his adult life at 3 West Newgate, Arbroath, which had been owned by the Beattie family since 1820.
He was educated at Abbey Primary School then Arbroath High School. He left at 15 and went to sea on the family boat.
In 1963 he married May Hunter of Glasgow whom he had met while she was holidaying in Arbroath. The couple went on to have three of a family, Katherine in 1964, Robert in 1965 and Anne in 1980.
Two years later Dennis gave up the sea to train as a precision grinder in Dumbarton. He later worked at Angus Precision Tools, Giddings and Lewis Fraser and Halliburton.
However, he always wanted to be his own boss and a holiday at Loch Ness, when he had to guide a flotilla of novice skippers back to Inverness, provided the impetus.
He returned to Arbroath and acquired his first passenger carrying boat, The Fairway, from Chic Ferrier.
Dennis continued to work in engineering while his business was becoming established.
Eventually, the business grew to encompass lobster fishing, fish selling and supplying boats to civil engineering and survey companies.
It was in the late 1970s that he bought a passenger vessel, which had been designed for the Aberdeen boat show, and named her the Girl Katherine.
What his family consider to be his proudest moment was commissioning a 40-foot pleasure cruiser, the Girl Katherine 2, from Gerrard boat builders, Arbroath, in 1984.
He grew his business in the passenger/tourist industry with this new, larger vessel.
He could then offer people the opportunity to tour the cliffs, visit the Bell Rock lighthouse, as well as continuing his popular angling trips.
Shortly after completing the Girl Katherine 2 he set up Tayside Marine Services which also provided boats for safety and survey work.
Dennis also founded Educatours so that schoolchildren from far and wide could tour the cliffs of Arbroath by boat.
He received many letters of thanks, along with drawings, from the children, recounting the seabirds and caves they had seen.
In another venture, Dennis and May opened Café Rendezvous in 1985.
This involved the renovation of a derelict building in Millgate Loan into a Parisian-inspired café.
He was an able cook and even supplied the Seaforth Hotel with their clootie dumplings for Christmas.
Over many years, Dennis served and supported Arbroath Lifeboat.
From active crew duty to launching authority, he was also fundraiser and finally, honorary secretary.
The family was pleased to learn that the lifeboat flag had been lowered as a mark of respect to his passing.
He was a freemason at Lodge 101, Arbroath, a bowler and a first aider and was proud to have donated 50 pints of blood.
A long-serving community councillor, Dennis was part of the group that launched Seafest, a popular event in Arbroath’s summer calendar for many years.
His will also be remembered for the leading role he played in the removal of Arbroath harbour bar to create a deeper entrance.
Dennis tried to get Angus Council to remove it as part of supporting work for a new sewer.
When they refused, Dennis came to The Courier, we published his proposal and the council had a change of heart.
The sandstone bar was removed with the same equipment already on site and Dennis was pleased both jobs had been done for the price of one.
On his frequent trips taking passengers to the Bell Rock, Dennis would often entertain them by singing over the boat’s public address system.
Link with past
On one memorable voyage he took 12 descendants of the lighthouse builder, Robert Stevenson, on a historic family pilgrimage.
During Seafest he skippered countless packed pleasure trips on the Girl Katherine to the lighthouse and back.
Dennis and May went their separate ways in 2003. He married Bronwen in 2007.
During their time living in Fife, Dennis received the Paul Harris Fellowship Award, Rotary’s highest accolade.
John Bonnington is part of the Howe of Fife Rotary Club and knew Dennis.
He said: “Dennis was a very generous man, quietly funding special events, such as wonderful outings on the Tay on his passenger boat.
“Thanks to him, we saw Newburgh and the area from new perspectives.
“As well as Attenborough-type wildlife experiences of leaping dolphins in the Tay.”
In 2016 Dennis and Bronwen moved back to Arbroath to be closer to family.
He continued to be a member of Howe of Fife Rotary and continued to be active with projects and ideas.
Dennis is also survived by his seven grandchildren and two step grandchildren.
At his funeral the family gratefully received £490 of donations in aid of Macmillan in recognition of their amazing support to Dennis and his family.