Obituary: George Morfee, miner, pianist, gardener and climber

George Machray Morfee, miner. Born 9 August 1920, in Crossford, Fife. Died: 22 December 2017, in Hertfordshire, aged 97.
George MorfeeGeorge Morfee
George Morfee

Born in Crossford, Fife, George Morfee’s father was a professional cricket player, fast bowler Pat Morfee, who played for Kent, and his mother was the former Ann Millar. The family moved around frequently.

He left school at 14 – with no knowledge that he had been awarded a scholarship to the local grammar school – and began his his first job at Metal Industries at Rosyth Dockyard. George started as an office boy and at night school - to which he cycled 14 miles, rain or shine – obtained a Final Accountancy Diploma which helped him gain promotion.

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George was very self motivated and passionate about music, art and culture.

In 1939, as war broke out, he enlisted at 18 as a Territorial in the Royal Artillery, started as a Gunner and was promoted to Quarter Master Sergeant. George served in the Lovat Scouts Mountain Commando Unit and toured North Africa, Italy, Austria and Greece.

A talented writer, he produced a frank and comprehensive journal of his experiences during the war. George was honoured for distinguished service in 1943. He remained a fit man all his life, exercising every day up until the very last week before he passed away. This discipline was in his blood in many areas of his life.

When he was demobbed George used the money he was given to start a new life to buy a Steinway grand piano and practised after work every day he could, until late in the evenings. Music and his love of rock climbing helped him with the difficult transition from war to becoming a civilian. He worked for the National Coal Board in Alloa until his retirement. He was Chief Stock Control Officer then Manager of the Alloa NCB Central Stores, The Whins.

Through music he met and married Pamela Muir, a piano and music teacher, in 1951. They climbed in the French Alps on their honeymoon, then spent time extending their house and tending their extraordinary garden. Fruit and veg was harvested with great pride and almost every meal on the table would be accompanied with the remark: “That was growing half an hour ago.”

George and Pamela had two daughters, Susan and Ann, both of whom are professional musicians. George and Pamela lived in Kincardine for 67 years in the same house. Pamela predeceased George,in 2010. George spent the last few months of his life in Hertfordshire, to be near Ann and her family.

George was very sociable, with a very supportive group of friends. Described by friends as mischievous and passionate, he loved to share his music and art. His passions in life were his marriage, his music, his paintings and his garden – described by a friend as “close to Paradise on earth”.

He was a big supporter of Scottish Independence having worked in the coal industry through the Thatcher years, when he had the difficult job of making men redundant due to the political decisions outwith his control. He was a lifelong SNP member.

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A close friend, journalist Neil Lyndon, said of George: “Nobody I have ever met was more interesting and illuminating to talk with about music than George. Nobody was more serious nor more emotionally responsive to music and art than this man, who was entirely self-taught.”


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