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Obituary: Scenes of poverty led Laurie Gordon of Dundee into ministry

Laurie Gordon.
Laurie Gordon.

Laurie Gordon, a well-known and respected parish minister who served numerous congregations across the north-east of Scotland and Fife, has died aged 94.

Mr Gordon served the Church of Scotland for almost four decades, commencing his service in Kelty and later being elected Moderator of Aberdeen Presbytery in 1986.

He was born in Dundee on October 17, 1927, to Rosa and Austin, a shop assistant and a foundryman, and many of his favourite memories were of early days back home at Fairley Place in the city.

Return journey

A few months before his death, his family took him back to where he once lived and he recounted stories about all those who had lived there, the front lands, the back lands, and the pletties.

Laurie had unfortunately lost most of his sight, however, that did not matter – he knew every door, every window and every brick.

He  left school in 1944 aged 16 and served his time as a baker at Keiller’s before being called up for National Service the following year.

He joined the RAF, qualifying as a telegraph operator and, in April 1947, he sailed for India.

Life changing

It was there his life changed. After seeing the deprivation in which the locals lived, he decided that when he returned to Scotland he could not return to baking – he had to help people.

He opted to become a minister and, after studying at St Andrews University, was licensed in April 1960 and ordained into Kelty Oakfield.

Seven years earlier, Laurie had met his future wife, Mabel and on April 9, 1958, they married at Dundee Mains Parish Church.

Mabel and Laurie Gordon.

The couple had many very happy memories of living in Kelty involving the Men’s Guild, Youth Fellowship, church fetes, and gala teas in the manse garden, and made lifelong friends with many in the congregation.

Following the birth of their two children, Christine and Alison, the family left Kelty and moved to Aberdeen where Mr Gordon was inducted into John Knox (Mounthooly) in 1968 and, again, made numerous lifelong friends.

In July 1995, he retired aged 68, however, he did not step down straight away and for the next decade undertook periods as locum or interim moderator at North Church of St Andrews, Craigiebuckler, Denburn, Ruthrieston West and Kingswells.

Family and faith

Laurie was driven by his sense of duty to, and love for, his family, his faith, his parish and his friends.

His other passions in life were music and history, words, books and poetry, and football, in particular Dundee United.

When in India on National Service, he would write letters home and in each one of them asked with desperation for the football scores.

Harmony

The Gordon house was always filled with music and Laurie spent his last days listening, and singing when he could, to Paul Robeson, Gilbert and Sullivan, Jimmy Shand, ragtime and hymns.

The times he lived through, and the people he shared those times with, were brought to life by music or song.

After the family relocated to Aberdeen, he also developed a great fondness for the Doric language and Doric poetry.

One of his favourites was a poem, Bennygoak, The Hill of the Cuckoo, and the renowned Sheena Blackhall was kind enough to record it for him. His family played it for him shortly before he died.

Laurie died on February 5 following a stay at Glen O’ Dee Hospital in Banchory.

He leaves behind his wife Mabel, his children Christine and Alison, his grandchildren Justine and Matthew, and four great-grandchildren, Naomi, Damion, Abi and Destin.

Tributes

His family said they had been left humbled by the countless messages of sympathy they have received, all showing how respected he was as a man, a minister, a colleague, and a friend.

Laurie’s daughter Christine said: “Dad sought no worldly wealth or luxurious life – he sought only for God to grant him a pure heart. For those of us who knew him, his God granted him that wish. He was a man with a pure heart.”

You can read the family’s announcement here.

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