Stalwart Roy dies aged 82

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Roy MacGregor, who worked at St Andrews University over five decades and served as hebdomadar, has died at the age of 82.

Roy, who passed away at St Andrews Hospital on August 15, began his career in the town as a lecturer in 1956 and went on to serve as a department chairman.

As hebdomadar, he was responsible for student welfare.

Born in 1929, he was raised in Glasgow and at the age of 16 left school to join his father’s wholesale ironmonger’s business before going on to do his national service.

It was during his time as a national serviceman that Roy was lent a book by Arthur Holmes called “Principles of Physical Geography,” which inspired him to go on and study geology at Glasgow University from where he graduated with a first class honours degree.

He went on to gain his MSc at McGill University in Montreal and then a PhD at Cambridge.

His long career at St Andrews started when he joined the university as a lecturer in geology, remaining in the post for 13 years.

In 1969 he was promoted to senior lecturer and from 1986 to 1987 served as department chairman before being promoted to associate senior lecturer for four years from 1991.


Roy also held the position of hebdomadar from 1988 to 1991 and was president of the Geological Society of Edinburgh for a period during the 1980s.

He taught stratigraphy and palaeontology, and introduced “soft-rock” economic geology to the syllabus at a time when North Sea oil was starting to flow.

His research specialisms were palaeontology and the origin of limestones.

Roy’s book “Fife and Angus Geology” – which he illustrated with his own sketches - is one of the best field guides for Scottish Geology and remains on the recommended reading list for undergraduates today.

The Focus section in the St Andrews Citizen - which runs to this day - was started by Roy in 1984 after he picked up the idea from a local newspaper he read while on holiday.

In an appreciation published in the newspaper last week, regular contributor Bunny Slack spoke of ‘‘a life well lived’’ and of the many people who were welcomed into the MacGregor household, not least of them overseas students and young parents.

A spokesman for the university said: “Our sympathies go to Roy’s widow, Margaret, their four sons, Alistair, David, Murray and Gavin, and their 10 grandchildren.”

n Footnote: Last week I spoke of Roy MacGregor being a pleasant, decent man and a reliable contributor to the Citizen. He was all of those things but he was also the man who sustained the Focus column. The reins of this newspaper have passed through several hands since 1984 and, on taking over 10 years ago, I had thoughts of winding up the column in the ever constant search for editorial space. It is thanks to Roy’s reasoned arguments that the Focus article still appears on the Town News page every week!

Mike Rankin