Obituary: Alexander Macdonald Hamilton CBE MA LLB, solicitor, Scout and church elder
Born: 11 May, 1925, in Motherwell. Died: 25 May, 2012, aged 87.
Alexander Hamilton, who has died aged 87, was a distinguished solicitor, Scout and church elder. Born in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, he lived almost all of his life in Cambuslang. He was educated at West Coats Primary School, Hamilton Academy, where he was awarded the prize of dux in 1943, and then Glasgow University.
Leaving school during wartime he joined the Royal Navy Volunteers Reserve and subsequently became a Petty Officer radio mechanic serving in Lord Louis Mountbatten’s headquarters in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
This is probably one of the reasons that in later life he remained adept at finding and solving mechanical and all types of problems.
After demobilisation he attended Glasgow University, where he received a MA degree in 1948 and a LLB in 1951, the latter while an apprentice in the firm of McGrigor Donald & Co Solicitors in Glasgow.
He spent his whole legal career with the firm, becoming a partner in the mid-1950s and senior partner in 1977, a position he held until retirement in 1990 .
Court work, arbitrations and building construction were his specialities and much of the success he achieved in these fields was the result of his thorough knowledge of the law, his skilful pleading and his meticulous preparation. With the latter, Hamilton obviously took to heart the motto of the Boy Scouts, an organisation which he supported with great enthusiasm.
Many trainees (known in his earlier days as apprentices), who were under his wing down the years have much for which to be thankful, particularly those who chose to become court practitioners or otherwise engaged in the activities of the courts. He was an outstanding teacher.
Time was found to serve his profession and also the commercial world. He was a member of the council of the Law Society of Scotland, convening a number of its committees, and he became president of the Law Society in 1977–78.
He was appointed a CBE in 1978 for services to the legal profession. In fairly recent times he worked with great enthusiasm as convener of the bankruptcy and diligence committee, playing his part in the passing of the new Bankruptcy and Diligence Bill, by which time he was well into his eighties.
In earlier days he was a member of the courthouse committee of the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow and president of the Glasgow Juridical Society.
He was appointed and served as a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland from 1978 to 1996 and was vice-chairman to Sir Michael Herries and Viscount Younser from 1990 to 1996. He was also a director of Morrison Construction.
He played his part in serving his community, being the vice-chairman of and legal adviser to Cambuslang Community Council for many years, for which he received several service awards. More importantly, he always had a sympathetic ear for anyone who came to the door of his home with a problem, and they were many and varied. He was a Justice of the Peace and a trustee of the Scottish Civic Trust.
A lifelong supporter of the Boy Scouts, he was a founder of the l50th Troop in Glasgow and its leader for many years, through which he inspired countless young people.
He subsequently became the district commissioner for the area, the chairman of Greater Glasgow Scouts, the president of the Clyde Regional Scout Council and the chairman of the Scottish Committee of the Scout Association.
Together with his longstanding friend, Norman Allan, he was a founder member of the Friends of Scouting Pipe Band and they played together for more than 60 years.
Over time, he was the recipient of many Scouting awards, including the Silver Wolf for services of the most exceptional character. However, probably the greatest award of all was the number of people of all ages who, when they met him in later life, thanked him for influencing their lives in their Scouting days. Typically, he was surprised, but those of us who knew Alexander were not.
He was a very active member of the former Cambuslang Old Parish Church, where he was a highly respected elder for more than 50 years and session clerk for 23 years.
Even during a time in hospital, two or three years ago, he continued to play an important part in achieving the unity of the three churches in Cambuslang to form today’s Cambuslang Parish Church. Public speaking was another of his fortés, and his quick wit and dry sense of humour made him a very popular after-dinner speaker.
He also greatly enjoyed his garden, particularly his sweet peas.
It may come as a surprise to learn that someone with so many commitments still had time for sport. Although the standard played by him and some of his companions fell well short of his other talents, golf always produced great pleasure for him, particularly on his favourite Pollok Golf Course.
He greatly enjoyed sailing, in the early days with Norman Allan and another longstanding friend, Muir Lindsay, on Torridon, and subsequently on Asyla with his late wife, Cathy, and members of his family circle. Latterly he was very grateful for the crewing support of good friends, who ensured Asyla left its berth in the morning and returned safely in the afternoon to Kip Marina.
He was an ardent supporter of Motherwell Football Club and until comparatively recently he seldom missed a game. It was not unknown for him in earlier days to pass comments to the club manager on a Monday morning after a defeat, and sometimes they were constructive!
His dear wife, Cathy, whom he first met at the local tennis club on return from war service, and his family were indeed his first love. Alexander enjoyed life to the full, no matter how hectic it was, and he was the first to admit that without Cathy many of his activities and successes would have been impossible.
They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2003 but sadly, after a long illness, Cathy died in June 2005.
Family played a very important part in his life, and great interest and support were shown to his five grandchildren, Andrew, Emma, Gordon, Anna and Fraser.
He is survived by his sons, John and Duncan, and daughter Kay. This outstanding and remarkable man will be greatly missed not only by his family, but also by all those who were privileged to know him.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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