Obituary: James Clarke Geddes, author, and former teacher

James Clarke Geddes
James Clarke Geddes
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Author and former Elmwood College teacher James Clarke Geddes has died in Cupar aged 94.

Mr Geddes, who was also a former director of Adult Education and Extra-Mural Studies at St Andrews University, was born in Inverbervie and joined the RAF during the war where he served among other places in Sri Lanka and India.

Following demob, he became a mature student at Aberdeen University, gaining a first class honours degree in English and history in 1960.

He taught at both Robert Gordon’s College, as it was then, in Aberdeen, and at Elmwood College, Cupar.

On taking up his post as Director of Adult Education and Extra-Mural Studies in 1967 he introduced the highly popular residential summer school, as well as setting up new lecture courses and establishing a pre-university Easter School.

Perhaps his most enduring legacy was the Friday night lectures delivered through the Open Association, although he also successfully developed day-time courses for the retired.

He was an active member of the Scottish Institute of Adult Education and Secretary of the Universities Council for Adult and Continuing Education (Scotland), as well as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Newbattle Abbey Residential College, and together with his wife, Lesley, organised and conducted five Study Tours abroad to Provence and Switzerland during two years during the summer months before he retired in October 1987.

As a protagonist of life long learning, Clarke continued to research and lecture on his favourite subjects travelling the breadth and length of Scotland as well as living for a time in Brittany and Shetland, which culminated in the publication of a semi-fictitious novel of the recreation of the life and work of Leslie Mitchell/Lewis Grassic Gibbon, “Nemesis in the Mearns”.

Mr Geddes is survived by his wife, Lesley, their four children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.