Obituary: Samuel Douglas Walls Gratton, producer

Samuel Douglas Walls Gratton
Samuel Douglas Walls Gratton
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Born: 1937, in Clydebank. Died: 14 August, 2013, in Perth, aged 76

SAMUEL Douglas Walls Gratton was a Scotsman known for his charm who shared his love of movies as a child in Glasgow, attending the family-owned cinemas, to the shores of America and France.

Douglas was a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, and Syracuse University, New York, and lived for most of his life in Britain, America and France. He returned to Scotland in 2000 after living in New York City and Portland, Oregon.

After graduating from Syracuse University with a Masters in Communication, he returned to Europe, where he eventually went to work for the London Press Exchange (LPE), which was interested in developing a mobile video unit to test different advertising approaches throughout Europe.

One of the potential contractors was Richard Marcus, who submitted the winning proposal for a complete video studio based in a Volkswagen van.

With Richard as engineer and Douglas as producer, the van travelled to Paris, Dusseldorf, Milan, Montreux, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Eindhoven, and it wasn’t long before the partners found their way to the USA and became principals at a small video company called Reeves Actron.

The partnership evolved into separate companies that became vendor and client, a relationship that lasted for many years. In 1970, Douglas formed Gratton Associates, specialising in non-broadcast industrial, corporate and educational programming, working chiefly with companies in the financial services, medical and energy arenas.

In 1973, he presented a programme to a professional association which captured the attention of a producer looking for exactly the kind of services he offered. The resulting contract with Metropolitan Life (Judy Anderson) was continued for a number of years and stabilised the business through the pioneering stages of the industry. The client list grew to include companies such as IBM, Citibank, AT&T, Exxon and Citibank.

In the late 1970s Douglas moved to the South of France, where he married and in 1979 had a daughter, Laurène-Kirstie Gratton, now a professor of law at the university of St Etienne.

He lived in a small French village called 
Sauteyrarges. He bought a house and a piece of land on which he planted daffodils, his favourite flowers. There, he saw himself as Jean de Florette, the famous Marcel Pagnol’ character.

In the early 1990s the marriage ended and Douglas returned to America. He bought a car, and travelled across America meeting new friends. His final destination was Portland, Oregon.

Throughout Douglas’s later years he volunteered in the community in which he resided.

In Portland it was Sisters of the Road, and in Perth, it was the Salvation Army and Gateway, where he was a faithful volunteer every Tuesday for ten years. There, he made good friends such as Dave McLellan and the late Dougie Leslie.

Douglas always enjoyed music (especially Wagner, and his favourite film musical was Singin’ in the Rain), the humorous writings of James Thurber, the New Yorker magazine, Scotch whisky, his pipe, and of course gardening. He will be missed by all who knew him.