Obituary: Bill Davie, consulting engineer and keen golfer

Bill Davie
Bill Davie
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William Pate Davie, engineer. Born: 26 January 1928 in Glasgow. Died: 30 December 2017 in Ayr, aged 89.

Bill Davie, who has died aged 89, was a well known and highly successful building services consulting engineer in Glasgow for over 30 years from about 1950 to the mid-1980’s. Having set up his eponymous business in 1957, 
he took on a partner, John McCulloch, in 1960 due to increasing workload to form Davie and McCulloch Limited, a company which continues to operate today from offices in Lynedoch Street in the city.

The firm provides a comprehensive service in all aspects of building services engineering with the emphasis on public works projects particularly hospitals and schools. The business expanded with additional directors being engaged and before Mr Davie took early retirement in the mid-1980’s, the company had become very well established and staff numbers had risen to over 55.

While at the helm he was involved in a number of important projects including the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill which opened in 1972, and works at Perth, Falkirk and Stirling Infirmaries among others. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a significant distinction conferred in recognition of “demonstrated extraordinary accomplishments”. He was also a Fellow of the Institute of Plant Engineers.

Away from business his main passion was golf which initially he played at Cathkin Braes where he was a Life Member. He also joined Western Gailes in 1973 and as time went on, spent more time playing there.

His working life began in 1943 as an electrical engineering apprentice to a company associated with John Brown Shipbuilders in Clydebank which also entailed attending night classes three times a week in electrical and mechanical engineering at the Royal Technical College and Stow College of Engineering in Glasgow.

At the end of the war he continued his apprenticeship with the emphasis on Building Services Engineering Design and on completion joined the firm of Donald, Smith, Seymour and Rooley in West Regent Street as a fully trained engineer, during which time he worked on the new Goodyear Tyre factory in Drumchapel. In the mid-1950s he joined the Paisley firm of James Kilpatrick and Son before setting up on his own in 1957. This coincided with the opportunity to become involved in the new tyre factory being built for the North British Rubber Company in Edinburgh. An association with an Aberdeen architect then led to projects there, involving the city’s new Fire Station and Technical College. In 1960 he brought fellow electrical engineer John McCulloch in to the business having met him through work on local authority projects in Glasgow. It proved to be a shrewd move as the company went on to flourish. Initially it was based in Renfield Street before moving to Elmbank Street and its current premises at Lynedoch Street.

William Pate Davie was born in Glasgow to Lily and John, who was a toolmaker. He had an older brother,also John, and the family lived in Montford Avenue in King’s Park area. He attended King’s Park primary school and then the senior secondary, which he left aged 15 to begin his apprenticeship. Around 1950 he married Lila Smith, whom he had met through their respective involvement with the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides attached to King’s Park Parish Church where Mr Davie was a Scout leader for some years.

There were two sons of the marriage, Russell and Derek. Russell became a pilot with Cathay Pacific before being appointed COO of Air Hong Kong while Derek operates a small housebuilding firm, having been involved in antiques and the licensed trade. The family lived in King’s Park until 1977, when they moved to Alloway, where Mr Davie remained. After more than 30 years together he and his wife divorced, although they remained on amicable terms, she predeceasing him in 2016. Thereafter he formed a relationship with Marjory Holms, a teacher at St Columba’s in Kilmacolm, with whom he remained until his death.

The golf bug struck him about the time he was setting up on his own in business and continued as a lifelong enthusiasm. In addition to Cathkin Braes and Western Gailes he played courses all over Scotland and beyond, with golfing holidays to Portugal being a favourite. He collected all sorts of golf memorabilia and in 1992 anonymously donated granite tee stones, denoting the number and name of the hole, to Western Gailes, which at his request only became public knowledge after his death.

He also loved to travel which included trips on Concorde and the maiden voyage of Queen Mary 2. At least once a year he ensured he had a good holiday, often going out to Hong Kong to see Russell. Wilding’s restaurant in Maidens, Turnberry was a favourite venue where every second week he and Marjory had a table booked, before finishing with coffee in the hotel.

A strong-minded individual who had confidence in his own decision making, he was variously affectionately nicknamed in his office “The entertainer” and “The King”. He was scrupulously professional in his business dealings and held in high regard.

Reflecting his meticulousness, he planned his own private non-religious funeral selecting the music and five friends to give eulogies.

Mr Davie is survived by his partner Marjory, his sons and grandchildren Jennifer, Philippa, Elliot, Yeadon and Morton.