Obituary: Rev Alexander Glass OBE, rector and auxiliary minister

Rev Sandy Glass, rector and auxiliary minister. Picture: Contributed
Rev Sandy Glass, rector and auxiliary minister. Picture: Contributed
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Born: 1 June, 1932, in Dunbar. Died: 25 December, 2015, in Dingwall. Aged 83.

Sandy Glass’s influence stretched well beyond the walls of the Highland school where he was rector for 20 years.

His teaching, counsel and guidance extended immeasurably to generations of children and young people who benefitted from a knowledge and wisdom dispensed down the decades through myriad roles in the local community and more widely in Scotland.

From his National Service days, when he was a scriptwriter for a German language series, through his teaching years, to his contribution to the Children’s Panel, amateur dramatics and latterly as an auxiliary minister, he embraced life enthusiastically, an extrovert always there for others as mentor, colleague or friend.

But the “best job in Scotland”, he said, was his post as rector of Dingwall Academy – the culmination of a teaching career that followed his own outstanding academic achievement as Dux of Dunbar Grammar School.

He left Dunbar in 1949 for Edinburgh University where he gained an MA in German and French. He followed graduation with teaching qualifications from Moray House College of Education and Edinburgh University but was called up for National Service.

His two years’ service were spent in the Royal Army Education Corps where, after basic training with the Green Howards, he became a German specialist at Cambridge House in Rheindahlen, Germany and began writing the scripts for Sprechen Sie Deutsch, a series broadcast by the British Forces’ Network. It was there he met his future wife Edith, who had enrolled in one of his German courses.

His career in Scotland began in 1958 as a teacher of modern languages at Montrose Academy. From there he went to Oban High School where he was special assistant teacher and housemaster at the boys’ hostel, Kilbowie Lodge. By 1962 he had moved to Nairn Academy as principal teacher of modern languages before taking up a post at Perth Academy where he was principal French teacher and later an assistant rector.

There was one more move, this time to Milne’s High School, Fochabers, as rector, before he began his tenure at the helm of Dingwall Academy in 1977.

He took particular interest in the education of children with different needs and forged close links with the departments that catered for them.

He was especially proud of Dingwall Academy’s links with Armenia when, in 1989, representatives of the school visited Armenia as guests of the USSR after fundraising for child victims of the Armenian earthquake disaster the previous year. It was followed by a reciprocal visit of Armenian pupils and teachers and he viewed this link of friendship as one of the academy’s finest achievements.

He also led many school trips to a range of foreign destinations, many of them aboard the SS Uganda and served as chairman and secretary of the Scottish Secondary Schools’ Travel Trust.

During his period as rector, Glass, who spoke Italian and Spanish in addition to French and German, was a member of the national steering committee for modern languages. He also found time to sit on the Children’s Panel, as a member and chairman in both Moray and Highland. He was national chairman for two years during the 1980s. His contribution in this field of child welfare saw him made an OBE in 1993. A couple of years earlier he had received a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to study school discipline and welfare.

Within school life and outside he was a huge supporter of amateur drama and playwriting – and an accomplished actor himself. A member of the general council of the Scottish Community Drama Association and convenor of its playwriting committee, he was also its Highland division secretary and festival organiser and chairman of its Moray Firth district. In Dingwall he was a stalwart of the Dingwall Players and a tireless director of plays.

A man who was never bored, he read and travelled widely, visiting six continents and, in retirement, was a member of Highland Health Council and a former president and secretary of Dingwall Rotary Club.

An elder for more than 50 years and session clerk of Dingwall Church of Scotland, he combined the last years of his professional teaching career with his role as an auxiliary minister, a position he held from 1993. That took him throughout Ross-shire and as far as Colonsay to preach. He also served as locum chaplain at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, assisted at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Church of Scotland and was interim moderator at Avoch, Fortrose, Rosemarkie, Contin and Lochluichart, as well as locum at the latter two churches.

But perhaps the proudest moments of his time as an auxiliary minister were conducting the wedding of his youngest daughter Louise in Edinburgh in 2006 and the naming ceremony of his granddaughter Lexi.

He and his wife Edith celebrated their own golden wedding anniversary in 2009 and she survives him along with their daughters Eleanor, Muriel and Louise and three grandchildren.