Obituary: Thomas Ian (Tim) Morrison, teacher, sportsman, soldier and churchman
BORN: 5 September, 1929, in Stirling. Died: 6 June, 2012, near Forfar, aged 82
In 1963, I was appointed to a post in Stirling High School. On my first day I was welcomed by a gracious, kind, helpful and cooperative man, Ian Morrison. In no time at all, we struck up a friendship, which was to last nearly fifty years.
I had been involved in designing new courses in chemistry for Scottish secondary schools and was expected to “flesh it out” in my new school. This involved a considerable amount of work; late nights, brief lunchtimes, few free periods, but Ian entered into this with energetic enthusiasm, ingenuity and loyalty. Soon we were both in demand by local authorities to train their chemistry teachers in readiness for the introduction of the new courses across the whole of Scotland. Weekends and evenings, involving travel, experimental demonstrations and detailed discussions, became the norm for us.
Eventually, we decided to prepare a series of books, as support material for teachers and pupils. For five years, we wrote one volume per year for each group. If ever there was a test of friendship, it was to be able to write together harmoniously. Ian’s good humour and dry wit did much to make this possible.
In addition to the writing, Ian’s strength was in the management of the process, writing to industrial contacts for information, pictures and advice, dealing with the publisher and meeting deadlines. The books took off and sold worldwide, helping to fashion a revolution in the teaching of chemistry.
Ian was much in demand, for eight years, helping teachers in Malaysia and Brunei to devise their own curriculum in Chemistry. All of the above activities were rooted in and enriched by Ian’s love of teaching.
He was never happier than when he was in the laboratory sharing, with young people, his enthusiasm for chemistry. Many tributes have been received from those he taught; not only those who later become professional chemists, but from many who fondly remember his lessons and his personality.
An executive dean of science said: “Many of us fondly remember the foundation of our careers that he gave us.”
A scientific journalist wrote: “He (Ian) was the one who inspired both myself and my brother towards chemistry. He was a very good teacher.”
Meanwhile, Ian moved to a series of appointments as a lecturer in Jordanhill College, as assistant rector in Brechin High School, as adviser in secondary education for Angus County Council and latterly for Tayside Regional Council. In all of these posts, Ian’s professional expertise, his wise council and dry humour were appreciated by students and colleagues.
Important as his educational activities were, Ian had many facets and talents. After commissioned service in the Royal Army Service Corps, he continued his association with the territorial army for nearly 20 years. His service was recognised by the award of a territorial decoration (TD) and by his retiral with the rank of Lt Colonel.
Another passion of his was sport, particularly in cricket and hockey. He was captain of Aberdeen Grammar School FP Cricket Club, a player for Stirling County Cricket Club and also with Brechin Cricket Club. One of his colleagues recently described him as” a good bowler, a modest batsman, but a wonderful captain”.
He excelled in hockey, being captain of Aberdeen Grammar School FP hockey team and of the team at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) at Grangemouth. He was twice president of the Scottish Hockey Association, chairman of Great Britain’s Men’s Hockey Board and chef de mission of the GB men’s team that won gold medals at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. In all of these activities his organisational and leadership skills were much in evidence.
Retirement found him as busy as ever. He had more time for his garden, for social work, such as “meals on wheels”, for his eldership at Brechin Cathedral and his beloved church at Dunnichen, near Forfar.
He was also a lay assessor used by the Church of Scotland at its residential selection schools, during which applicants for the full-time ordained ministry were assessed. Locally, Ian served on the management committee for Lippen Care, the hospice for Angus County.
Ian was a bachelor until his early forties, when he began to enjoy a very full and happy marriage to Isabel Forgan. They worked, shared and were fulfilled in loving and caring, which spilled out in their Christian concern for others. Their faith was practical; faith of the kind mentioned by James “I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2,18. NIV).
They had no children, but lavished their love and generosity on nephews and nieces and on many another.
I recall, with great pleasure, time spent in their home, time out on the hills, time sharing an interest in archaeology and time sharing in Christian fellowship. I count it a great privilege to have shared life professionally and socially with a man of many talents, all of them tempered with efficiency, kindness, understanding, patience and respect.
Prof A H Johnstone
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