Tragic passing of former academy rector John Geddes

TRIBUTES have been paid to former Peterhead Academy rector, John Geddes, who died on Tuesday last week.

His sad passing came just days after celebrating his 98th birthday which was marked with an article in last week's Buchan Observer.

Peterhead Rotary Club's president elect, Ian Robertson, paid tribute to Mr Geddes, who was a founder member of the town's club, saying he would be sadly missed by all.

"Rotarian John Geddes is gone and will be sorely missed by his Rotary colleagues and family," he said. "In Rotary he will be irreplaceable. He was a founder member of Peterhead Rotary Club, a past president, past district governor and, to crown it all, he was a Paul Harris awardee - the highest honour awarded for services to Rotary.

"He was just a gentle man and inspirational to Rotary ideals," he added.

Mr Geddes had been a pupil of Peterhead Academy and had left as prima accessit to the Dux. He went on to Aberdeen University where he graduated with a BSc. Honours degree.

As a student he started a dance band called Miralto which played at many venues in the town.

Mr Geddes began his teaching career in 1936 as temporary head teacher of Fraserburgh's Central School. He then moved to Inverurie Academy where he taught Higher Mathematics before moving to Keith Grammar School where he taught since for three years.

He arrived at Peterhead Academy in 1939 where he remained until 1944 before moving to Portree High School on the Isle of Skye where he was a science teacher and housemaster.

Three years later Mr Geddes moved to Banff Academy as principal science teacher but left there in 1954 to return to Peterhead Academy as principal science teacher.

His next move was to Wick High School as rector in 1959, and his last post, before he retired from teaching, was as rector of Peterhead Academy from 1964 to 1975.

During the war years Mr Geddes formed a school orchestra at Peterhead Academy and his interest in music was further enhanced while he taught at Banff. During this time he played in Kim Murray's orchestra in Elgin, playing the violin and viola in the orchestra along with the late, grate Willie McPherson.

A gas identification officer (Civil Defence) during the war, he also served in the Home Guard.

He was a member of Peterhead Lifeboat Committee for 30 years, latterly as chairman and for a few years was also chairman of the local youth panel and chairman of the F.P. Association.

For a decade he served as chairman of the parole board of Peterhead Prison.

Along with the late Charlie Johnstone, Mr Geddes formed the F.P.'s Bridge Club. He also became a member of the Probus Club of Peterhead and has been a Rotarian for 44 years and is a former District Governor of District 101, a post he held from 1977 to 1978.

While rector of Peterhead Academy he arranged the first ever visit to the town's twin town of Aalesund in Norway and also spent six months representing Scotland as an educator in New Jersey, America. He also started the Brunton courses which he had done in Wick.

As a keen swimmer he has saved three people from drowning during his lifetime. The first was a young boy who had fallen into the harbour. The next was his cousin who had slipped while walking along the River Ugie, while the third was when he rescued someone drowning in Lake Garda, Italy, while leading a group of holidaymakers.