Obituary: Gabriel Jerdan, 98

A FORMER accompanist for the Corstorphine Philharmonic Choir has died at the age of 98.

Gabriel Jerdan, best known as Jerry, was born in Edinburgh on August 5, 1914.

A war-time love story was pivotal to his life and played out like the scenes in a Hollywood film.

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Jerry met Helen ‘Ella’ Wood, a young nurse from Eyemouth, early in the Second World War after enlisting as a gunner in the 57th Medium Regiment.

Their courtship was an unusual one, with the couple meeting whenever they were both in the same part of Scotland.

Jerry proposed in 1941, but they decided to wait until the end of the war before marrying in case the other was killed.

That choice would spell a prolonged period of separation when they would not see each other for nearly four years.

Jerry’s war service would take him as far afield as South Africa, Egypt, Libya and Sicily and led to his elevation to the rank of captain.

Ella, meanwhile, nursed in India from 1942 until the war ended in 1945.

Her husband-to-be was stuck in Germany at the time and had to arrange by post to marry Ella on December 10, 1945.

Jerry arrived back in Edinburgh three days before the planned wedding date.

They were reunited on December 8 and were married two days later, going on to have two children, David and Helen.

Their marriage lasted just shy of 60 years, ending with Ella’s death in April 2005.

Jerry’s earlier schooling years were spent at James Gillespie’s High School and George Watson’s College in Edinburgh before he joined the staff of the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society.

Following his marriage, Jerry took up a post with the Scottish Equitable in Glasgow and later became a manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland for London Life.

Music and rugby were his great interests outside of work and study.

He joined the Edinburgh Society of Organists as a teenager and was one of its available locums. It led to him playing a variety of organs at churches throughout Edinburgh

He was also the piano accompanist to the Corstorphine Philharmonic Choir and the organist for the Cairns Children’s Choir whenever it gave Sunday church concerts.

Scottish Freemasonry was another of Jerry’s great interests.

He joined the Watsonian Lodge in 1946 and went on to great things in the order, becoming a member of the Grand Committee of Grand Lodge in 1973, then grand almoner and finally depute grand master in 1994-95.

The man described as a “true gentleman” died at a Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, home on September 29.