Obituaries - M

Obituaries - M

Magnus Magnusson

To the majority of people Magnus Magnusson was a TV personality best known for his role over a quarter of century as the interrogator on Mastermind. But to those of us who had the privilege to work with him, as I did for the best part of a decade – I as Chief Executive, and he as Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage – he was a much more ken-speckled man: if that can be said of an Icelander. He was erudite, personable, and an achiever; as well as being a writer, broadcaster, speaker, translator, and historian; he was a leader and innovator. It is no understatement to say that he was a highly gifted, charismatic man of many parts who graced public life and the media in Scotland, in Britain as a whole, and also in his native Iceland. Read more about Magnus Magnusson

Alexander Mair

Alec Mair was born at Portknockie, a small fishing village in Banffshire, on 9th September 1912. His father and younger brother were herring fishermen. He attended the local Junior Secondary School and left at 14 to become a clerk (later, sales representative) with a firm of Fish Salesmen at Buckie. He was 25 when he entered the Medical School of the University of Aberdeen, as a mature student, and graduated MB, ChB in 1942. His early experiences proved to be more of a stimulus than a hindrance to his career in medicine. Read more about Alexander Mair

Barry Patrick Marmion

Prof BP Marmion AO, MA (Cantab), DSc (Lond), MD (Lond), FRCPath (UK), FRACP, FRS (Edinburgh) DUniv(Adel) excelled as a clinical microbiologist, medical researcher and academic, as a mentor to many younger colleagues, and as an outstanding human being. His professional life stretched more than 70 years, from the era when smallpox, typhoid and diphtheria were regularly encountered, through to times of gene therapy and routine molecular diagnostics.  Barrie Patrick Marmion was born in 1920 in Alverstoke near Portsmouth, son of Joseph P and Melita Hannah Marmion. He was educated for a period at a catholic boys boarding school which was a not particularly happy experience, and contributed to his sceptical attitude towards religion in his later years. He began medical school at University College London in 1939, but was then evacuated to the Welsh National School of medicine in Cardiff at the start of the war, and returned to UCH in London for his clinical studies – he stayed in a hostel in Gower St, slept in the squash courts during the air raids, and took a part-time job at Great Ormond Street Hospital after he ran out of money. Because all the staff of the medical school were away at the war, the course was largely self-taught by the students teaching each other – Barrie was proud of this experience and it maybe helped shape his determined self-reliance in later years. Read more about Barrie Patrick Marmion

William Barr Martin

Bill Martin, who died peacefully at home in the early hours of 6th October 2004, was born in 1924 in Glasgow where he attended Hutchesons’ Grammar School. On leaving school he volunteered for pilot service in the RAF but was turned down because of colour blindness (he used to ask why the sand was blue). Instead, because his family had farming links he entered the old Glasgow Veterinary College, gaining his MRCVS in 1947. Those were difficult years due to the prevailing wartime conditions and the very basic and underfunded facilities of the College. But if academic conditions were Spartan they fostered enduring attributes of initiative and self-reliance coupled with humour, comradeship and lasting friendship. Bill always spoke fondly of those crucial years which laid the foundation of what was to be a productive and distinguished professional career during which he was always proud to identify himself as a veterinary surgeon. Read more about William Barr Martin

John Drake Matthews

John Matthews died of pneumonia in Wallasey on 26th May 2005 aged 81 after a most distinguished and action-packed career in the Merchant Navy, as the pioneer of tree breeding in Britain, and later as Professor of Forestry at the University of Aberdeen. John was an achiever and an irrepressible ideas man. He was able and imaginative and everything he did was tackled with seemingly boundless energy and total conviction. His huge enthusiasm was catching and a very striking feature of his life was the way in which those who knew him, and especially those who worked with him, were inspired and motivated by his personality. He was charismatic and slightly eccentric and possessed a keen sense of humour and a very infectious laugh. He was one of the most distinguished foresters of his generation and achieved great things and won many friends and admirers. John Drake Matthews

John Mauchline

John Mauchline was a colleague of mine for more than 30 years when we both worked at the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory of the Scottish Marine Biological Association (now the Scottish Marine Institute of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, SAMS). He had wide interests in crustacean biology and was a leading international authority on the ecology of copepods, mysids and euphausiids all highly inlportant components of marine food chains. John was born in Central Scotland at Motherwell in Lanarkshire and attended school in Glasgow before entering Glasgow University in 1951 to study Zoology. The Professor at that time was Sir Maurice Yonge FRS, FRSE, who had a considerable influence on John's career, in particular as supervisor for his PhD on the biology of the euphausiid Meganyctiphanes norvegica (one of the species of krill). To put the importance of krill in context, it is estimated that the biomass of krill in the Southern Ocean could approach 100 million tonnes. Read more about John Mauchline

Arthur James Mee

Arthur Mee, always known as ‘A J’ to his colleagues in the Scottish Education Department and to a generation of science teachers in Scottish schools whom he encouraged and inspired, was born on May 12 1906. He was a Londoner, educated at Woolwich Polytechnic and Trinity College, Cambridge. He taught first in England, and soon made a name for himself as the author of a standard textbook on physical chemistry for undergraduates which went through several editions. He came to Scotland as head of the science department in Glasgow Academy and was recruited to the Inspectorate in 1946. Read more about Arthur James Mee

Basil Megaw

Basil Richardson Stanley Megaw was born in Belfast on 22nd June, 1913, and died in Stevenage on 22nd August, 2002. He received his schooling in Belfast at Campbell College, and proceeded thence to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, in 1932. There he chose to study for the Archaeology and Anthropology Tripos, in the curriculum which had been devised by Hector Monro Chadwick to realise his vision of the cross-disciplinary study of cultures, including especially those European cultures which had long traditions of literacy to set beside their material remains. This combination of the study of material culture with that of history, language and literature both attracted Megaw and helped to mould the ethnological interests which dominated his research and thinking for the rest of his life. Read more about Basil Megaw

Hans Anton Meidner

Hans Meidner enjoyed two reputations. He was a distinguished plant physiologist making important contributions to our knowledge of stomatal behaviour. But he was also widely known for his active and wholehearted commitment to world peace and support of human rights. Indeed, it was probably this life-long commitment that he regarded as a major contribution of his life. No starry-eyed idealist, Hans brought a tough-minded grasp of political facts and realities to his campaigning zeal, and it is for his public-spirited activities as well as for his scientific reputation that many of his friends in Scotland will remember him. Read more about Hans Anton Meidner

Sir Harry (Work) Melville

The Society lost one of its most distinguished and long-serving Fellows on 14 June 2000 at the age of 92 with the death of Sir Harry Melville, Fellow of the Society from 1937, Bruce-Preller lecturer (1943), Gunning Victoria Jubilee Prize (1952-56). Born in Edinburgh on 27 April 1908, the only son of Thomas and Esther Cumming Burnett Melville née Nicol), who resided in the southside at 233 Dalkeith Road, he went first to Preston Street School before entering George Heriot’s School in 1916. It does not appear that his school recognised his abilities as the summary report on his leaving in July 1925 recorded “Average intelligence, fairly good worker, quiet unassuming manner, always courteous”. Read more about Sir Harry (Work) Melville

Sir James Woodham Menter

Sir James Menter came to live permanently in Scotland on retirement twenty years ago after a full and highly successful working life in scholarship, scientific research, industry and university management. He could have been simply an academic, albeit one of great distinction, but he was one of those all too rare individuals who combine intellectual integrity, professionalism and a sound sense of judgement which made him successful also in the wider world of industry and business. Read more about Sir James Menter

Sidney Michaelson

Sidney Michaelson, Professor of Computer Science and 'Founding Father' of computing at the University of Edinburgh, had been troubled by his health for some time, when he died suddenly on 21st February 1991 at the age of 65. Read more about Sidney Michaelson

Donald Michie

Professor Donald Michie and his former wife Dame Anne McLaren, distinguished scientists in separate fields that overlapped at one point, have died together in a car accident; Donald was 83. He made contributions of crucial international significance in three distinct fields of endeavour. During the second world war, he developed code-breaking techniques which led to effective automatic deciphering of German high-level ciphers. In the 1950s, he worked with Anne on pioneering techniques which were fundamental in the development of in vitro fertilisation. Donald subsequently became one of the founders of the field of artificial intelligence, an area to which he devoted the remainder of his academic career. It was within this field that I came to know Donald as an inspirational supervisor of my PhD at Edinburgh - not only insightful, forceful and even heroic, but possessing a wicked sense of humour. Read more about Donald Michie.

First published in The Guardian 20 July 2007  Reproduced with permission of The Guardian

Bruce Millan

That Bruce Millan, a Defence Minister, Secretary of State for Scotland and a well-regarded and effective British Commissioner in Brussels, chose not to go to the House of Lords says a lot about this modest, principled, intelligent and committed Labour politician. He preferred to return to Glasgow, where he had been one of the city's MPs. He had a quality rare among politicians – lack of rancour. As Secretary of State for Scotland from 1976-79 he was the minister tasked with getting the 1978-79 Scotland Bill through the House. Doubtless exasperated by me, and other stalwarts of Labour's Vote No campaign, Millan might have been bitter and acerbic, but he maintained his impeccable manners and decent relations with colleagues determined to scupper the devolution policy. Read more about Bruce Millan.  First published in The Independent, 27 February 2013. Reproduced by permission of The Independent

Agnes Eleanora Miller

Agnes Eleanora Miller, known to friends and family as Nora, was born on 7 September 1898 at Dunipace, Stirlingshire. She was the eldest child of the Reverend William Douglas Miller and his wife Agnes Cameron Adam, a pupil of Sir Hubert Parry and a fine soprano singer and pianist. At the age of seven Nora moved with her parents and younger twin brothers, Burnet and Ted, to 57 Kirklee Road in Glasgow's West End. This was to be her home for over 50 years. Her brother Ian and sister Betty were born several years after the move. Read more about Agnes Eleanora Miller

Christina Cruickshank Miller

Christina Cruickshank Miller was born in 1899, and when about five years old was very ill with measles and rubella, which progressively and severely damaged her hearing. At primary school she was a good allrounder, excelling in spelling and mental arithmetic. At her secondary school all pupils were taught chemistry and physics, so she never thought of science as a male prerogative. The initial science teaching by untrained teachers resulted in mediocre work by Chrissie, but later tuition by first-class graduates improved her performance dramatically; and she discovered how important an influence a well-qualified teacher can have. Read more about Christina Cruickshank Miller

James Douglas Miller

James Douglas Miller was born in Glasgow on 20 July 1937. Educated at Glasgow Academy and then at the University of Glasgow, he embarked on neurosurgical training in 1965 in the Institute of Neurological Science in Glasgow and gained an impressive flair for research as a Medical Research Council Fellow studying the cerebral effects of hyperbaric oxygen to ameliorate intracranial hypertension and cerebral ischaemia. In 1970 he obtained a National Institute for Health International Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the USA to work with Dr T W Langfitt at the University of Pennsylvania, carrying out laboratory and clinical research on the relationships between cerebral perfusion and cerebral blood flow and measurements of intracranial pressure, cerebral blood flow and oxidative metabolism in patients with severe head injury. In 1971 he became Senior Lecturer in the University Department of Neurosurgery in Glasgow, continuing his research studies on cerebral blood flow following brain injury and embarking on work on the pathophysiology of patients with head injuries, brain neoplasms, hydrocephalus and other conditions as well as parallel experimental studies. Read more about James Douglas Miller

Stewart Miller

Stewart Miller was born on 2 July 1934, in Kirkcaldy, son of Grace and Willie Miller. His primary school education started on 4 September 1939, the day after war was declared. A contemporary, with whom he was a fast friend during school years, is Archie Howie, a distinguished Physicist and former Head of the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge. Professor Howie recalls that he and Stewart vied with each other for school prizes etc, with Stewart emerging as the dux of the primary school. Read more about Stewart Crichton Miller

Rob Milne

Dr Rob Milne died on Mt. Everest on 5th June 2005 of a sudden heart attack. Dr Milne was at 8450m en route to the summit of Everest which would have been the seventh of the highest peaks on each of the seven continents that Dr Milne had climbed. Before setting off on his Everest expedition, Dr Milne invited the Society's Fellowship to propose research work he could undertake while acclimatising at Base Camp and agreed enthusiastically to the studies he was asked to perform. Just prior to his departure for Everest, Dr Milne accepted the Society's invitation to be a Mentor to Enterprise Fellows, a role in which he would doubtless have offered much wisdom and encouragement, imparted with great warmth and humanity. Dr Milne will be much missed and the Society expresses its sincere condolences to Dr Milne's wife and family.

Bertram Desmond Misselbrook

MY FIRST encounter with Desmond Misselbrook could not have been more inauspicious. In 1972, I was the 10-year-old (in parliamentary terms) MP for West Lothian, representing two-fifths of the infant new town of Livingston. The Chairman of Livingston Development Corporation was a senior Glasgow councillor and solicitor, Bill Taylor, appointed by Willie Ross, Harold Wilson's Secretary of State for Scotland, in 1965. Taylor was doing a good job, and, immersed in new town plans, wished to continue. Unexpectedly, the incoming Conservative government declined to reappoint Taylor, and put in his stead Desmond Misselbrook, widely seen as a place man, and "one of their own".  Alex Eadie, representing three-fifths of the new town, and I exploded in public. We said that the actions of Gordon Campbell, as Edward Heath's Secretary of State, constituted political vengeance, and that Misselbrook was a political appointee, singularly inappropriate, for a Labour ex-shale-mining, coal-mining area. The hullabaloo dominated the press north of the border for some days. Read more about Desmond Misselbrook. This obituary first appeared in The Independent on 23 March 2005. Reproduced with permission from The Independent

Andrew Ronald Mitchell

Andrew Ronald Mitchell was born in Dundee on 21 June 1921, and died in Dundee on 22 November 2007. Ron, as he was known to almost everyone, was an only child; his father was a blacksmith. Ron went to Morgan Academy in Dundee, and in 1938 he won a scholarship through the school to do a mathematics degree in University College, Dundee (then a college of St Andrews University), where E. T. Copson was Professor of Mathematics. He graduated with First Class Honours in 1942, and was called up and sent to the wartime Ministry of Aircraft Production in London, where he remained until after the end of the war. Ron had shown great promise as a footballer at school, and while in Dundee had played for Dundee North End Junior Football Club; he continued to play during the war, turning out a few times for Chelsea. Read more about Andrew Ronald Mitchell

John Murdoch Mitchison

J.M.Mitchison, invariably known as Murdoch, had a long and distinguished career in the University of Edinburgh, beginning in 1953.  He was born in London into a remarkable family.  His father, Dick Mitchison, was a Labour shadow cabinet member in the 60s.   His mother Naomi, was a distinguished writer and her brother J.B.S.Haldane was one of the key founders of modern genetics.  Murdoch’s two brothers are also prominent biologists.
As a boy, he won a scholarship to Winchester which he enjoyed, describing most of the teaching as excellent. This led to a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge to read medicine.   He finished his Tripos in 1941 but by that time was sure that he didn’t want to proceed further with medicine even before he was recruited into Operational Research (OR) for the remainder of the war.   OR incorporated a number of bright young scientists, some went to Bletchley Park, others were set to investigating diverse projects of military concern. Murdoch was involved with gunnery, the calculation of range tables, the armour plating of tanks and – as he related it - somewhat hilarious research into the viscosity of mud.   He ended the war in northern Italy with the 8th Army, one of his responsibilities being the daily production of ‘Mud Reps’ to help with the deployment of armoured vehicles. Read more about Murdoch Mitchison

Rosalind Mary Mitchison

Rosalind Mitchison was a pioneering social historian who opened up a new world of social mores in the Scotland of the 18th and 19th centuries. She can be called the first historian of “sinners” and of the poor in Scotland.
Most of her academic career was spent at Edinburgh University, where her last post was as Professor of Social History. One of her students, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, remembers her “not just as a great writer but as a great teacher too – full of energy, ideas, interesting information and challenging theories. History came alive in her presence" Read more about Rosalind Mitchison  This obituary was first published in The Independent on 21 September 2002.

John Lennox Monteith

John Lennox Monteith, who has died aged 82, pioneered the application of physical principles in the study of how plants and animals interact with their immediate environment, or microclimate. In a career spanning over half a century, he is perhaps best known for the Penman-Monteith equation that has become the basis for guidelines for estimating irrigation water requirements used by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). He became one of the youngest ever Fellows of the Royal Society of London in 1971, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1972. In addition he was a Fellow (1951) and Honorary Fellow (1997) of the Royal Meteorological Society, Fellow (1966) of the Institute of Physics, Fellow (1976) of the Institute of Biology, and served as president of the Royal Meteorological Society from 1978 to 1980. In 1989 he was awarded an honorary DSc by the University of Edinburgh. During his career he served on many national and international scientific committees and on the editorial boards of prominent scientific publications. He also served as Fellowship Secretary to this Society from 1997-1999. Learn more about John Monteith.

George Lightbody Montgomery

Professor George Lightbody Montgomery, Emeritus Professor of Pathology in the University of Edinburgh, died in Edinburgh on 5th February 1993, aged 87. George Montgomery was nationally and internationally respected for his distinguished contributions to pathology and medicine. He was Professor of Pathology in Edinburgh and pathologist to the Royal Infirmary (1954-71) and previously St Mungo (Notman) Professor of Pathology in the University of Glasgow and pathologist to Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1948-54). Read more about George Lightbody Montgomery

Brenda Elizabeth Moon

Brenda Moon made an outstanding contribution to the development of Edinburgh University Library as its head from 1980 until her retirement in 1996, she was an efficient Curator of the RSE 2002-05, and her influence on all those who knew her well was immense, her diffidence of manner concealing great drive and determination (not for nothing is Philip Larkin credited with designating her “the steel snowdrop”). Born (in Stoke-on-Trent, to be precise) while her parents, Clement and Mabel Moon, were living in Newcastle-under-Lyme, she spent her early years there.  When she was 11, the family moved to Birmingham and she received her secondary education at King Edward's Grammar School for Girls, Camp Hill, gaining there her abiding love for the Classics.  From there she went to St Hilda's College, Oxford, to read Greats (1949–1953), followed by professional training at the School of Librarianship and Archives, UCL, 1954-55.  She was joint winner of the Cowley Prize for Bibliography in 1955 and became a Fellow of the Library Association in 1958. Read more about Brenda Moon

Edwin George Morgan

When the Sixties started Edwin Morgan was already 40. No one could have predicted that by the end of the decade he would be establishing himself as one of the most widely read contemporary poets in English, still less that well before the year 2000 some good judges would be acclaiming him as the mightiest Scottish writer since Hugh MacDiarmid. He had had some success as a student poet in the late Thirties but made no notable poetry at the time out of his Second World War experience carrying stretchers in the RAMC. His first "slim volume", The Vision of Cathkin Braes (1952) came out from a small publisher in his native Glasgow but made no great waves. In an autobiographical poem, "Seven Decades", Morgan wrote of the '50s: "At thirty I thought life had passed me by... / And week after week after week strained to unbind myself, sweated to speak." Read more about Edwin Morgan

First published in The Independent – 20 August 2010.  Reproduced with permission from The Independent

Henry Gemmell Morgan

Emeritus Professor of Pathological Biochemistry, University of Glasgow. Professor Gemmell Morgan lived in an era of unprecedented technological change in the provision of healthcare in Scotland and his drive and enthusiasm put him at the forefront of that process. The science of clinical biochemistry in the country owes more to him than to anyone else of his generation. Read more about Henry Gemmell Morgan

Alberto Morrocco

Alberto Morrocco, painter, was born 14 December 1917 in Aberdeen, the son of immigrant Italians. Precocious talent as a draughtsman secured him entrance to Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen at the age of 14 from where, following graduation, he briefly toured pre-war France and Italy. The avant-garde of the twenties and thirties, in particular Braque and Picasso, had an immense (though not always happy) influence on him for the rest of his life. The outbreak of war saw him committed to Edinburgh Castle, as penalty for an Italian background. It was no doubt uncomfortable, and to a degree humiliating, but he wrung many a good joke out of his incarceration (his account of periods spent manufacturing mock field wounds were worthy of Evelyn Waugh). He also struck up an acquaintance with Tiny Rowland, destined fifty years later to be buying the work of his fellow inmate in Bond Street galleries. Read more about Alberto Morrocco

Ian Robert Mackenzie Mowat

The tragic death of Ian Mowat in a hill-walking accident in Glencoe on 6th September 2002 at the age of fifty six shocked the world of librarianship and was a grievous loss to the academic community in Scotland. Read more about Ian Robert Mackenzie Mowat

Malcolm Stewart Muir

The death of Calum Muir in Edinburgh on 21 June 1995 robbed the world of one of its most distinguished epidemiologists, who during his life was deeply committed to developing a precise science from ‘geographic pathology’. During his career abroad, he remained fiercely proud of his native Scotland and through his knowledge, wisdom, integrity and unfailing courtesy attracted world-wide admiration and friendship. Read more about Malcolm Stewart Muir

Walter Douglas Munn

Douglas Munn (he seldom aired his other Christian name) was born in Troon and educated at Marr College. His father, who died when Douglas was 16, worked on the railways; his mother was a teacher. Both parents were talented painters, in watercolours and oils. In Glasgow University his M.A. with First Class Honours in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy was especially remarkable, for his choice of ‘outside’ subjects were Music and English. By then he was an accomplished pianist, and had even composed some pieces for piano. Read more about Walter Douglas Munn

Hamish Nisbet Munro

Hamish Munro, perhaps the last of a sequence of eminent nutritionists (including Cathcart and Cuthbertson) from the University of Glasgow, was born in Edinburgh on 3 July 1915 and died, having spent the second half of his professional life in Boston Mass., in Glasgow on 28 October 1994. Read more about Hamish Nisbet Munro

Duncan George Murchison

Duncan had a long and distinguished career in many aspects of UK and international geosciences and academia as a researcher, academic leader, learned society officer and as an entrepreneur. Murchison was the father of UK organic petrology.  He graduated in Geology from King’s College, Newcastle where he was President of the Students’ Union (1953-54).  He then worked as a geologist with Royal Dutch Shell, completing his PhD with Stanley Westoll at the Geology Department of Durham University prior to his appointment as a Research Associate in the Department of Geology in Newcastle (January 1958).  He was appointed Lecturer (1960), promoted Senior Lecturer (1968), appointed Reader in Geochemistry (1971) and Professor of Geochemistry (1976).  He was Dean of the University’s Faculty of Science (1980-83) and he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor from 1986 until retirement in 1993, when he was accorded the title Emeritus Professor.  During this period he also served as Acting Vice-Chancellor for one year in 1991.  He was a Fellow, council member and Treasurer of the Geological Society of London and a member of a number of international commissions.  He served as President of the Royal Microscopical Society and was ICCP Treasurer for many years and also President (1979-83).  Duncan was the 1987 Thiessen medallist and lifelong honorary member of TSOP. Read more about Duncan Murchison

First published by the Geological Society in GeoScientist, April 2014 (Volume 24, No 3). Reproduced with permission from the Geological Society

Sir Kenneth Murray

Ken Murray was one of the most eminent scientists in the United Kingdom and an international leader of scientific innovation. He developed the first vaccine against viral hepatitis B, which has saved countless lives worldwide. Professor Murray was one of the earliest workers in genetic engineering, which has opened a new avenue of scientific research and has led to new treatments for diseases and genetic disorders. He was co-founder of the first European based Biotechnology company, Biogen. Most of Professor Murray’s commercial income was used to found the Darwin Trust in 1983. The trust has supported the education of many young scientists, and helped to fund cutting-edge research and improved facilities at the University of Edinburgh. His generosity also supported activities to inspire the next generation of potential scientists. Read more about Ken Murray

Noreen Elizabeth Murray

Noreen Murray was recognised internationally as being one of Britain's most distinguished and highly respected molecular geneticists.  In the early 1970s, together with her husband Ken and colleague Bill Brammar, she led the development of recombinant DNA technology, or genetic engineering, as it is commonly called. This was a seismic event, ultimately affecting all areas of biology and making possible much of modern biotechnology.  Their pioneering work put the UK at the head of this revolution in research, and the technology and tools that they developed have had lasting impact. Learn more about Noreen Murray


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