Former soldier and insurance manager;
Born: August 5, 1914; Died: September 29, 2012.
Gabriel Jerdan, who has died aged 98, was a Second World War veteran who went on to a career in insurance.
He was born on his grandfather's birthday, and named after him, the seventh person in the family to bear that name, the first born in Kelso in 1751. However, it was a name he never liked, and throughout his life he was known to all as Jerry.
His schooling was at James Gillespie's and George Watson's College in Edinburgh, where he left with sufficient qualifications to enrol as an actuarial student. He joined the staff of the Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Society, and when not working or studying, his passions – which he maintained throughout his life – were music and rugby.
At the age of 16 his music teacher declared he had nothing more he could teach him, so young Jerry joined the Edinburgh Society of Organists and played an interesting variety of organs at churches throughout Edinburgh, earning modest but welcome pocket money. He was also the piano accompanist to the Corstorphine Philharmonic Choir and the organist for the Cairns Childrens Choir.
In 1938 his father advised him that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was wrong and if you wanted to progress in the inevitable war it was as well to get in first. He enlisted as a gunner in a TA regiment, the 57th Medium Regiment, RA, in 1938, and was called up when war broke out. His war service took him to Belgium, France, South Africa, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Italy, Holland and Germany. By the time he was demobilised in 1945, he had obtained the rank of Captain.
During the early stages of the war he met a young nurse from Eyemouth named Helen (Ella) Wood. He proposed in 1941 but they decided they would wait until the end of the war before marrying. Little did they know they would not see each other for nearly four years. She nursed in India from 1942-45, and was demobbed as soon as the war ended. He was stuck in Germany, so they arranged to marry on December 10, 1945. He got back to Edinburgh on December 7, they met the following day and married two days later.
They were together for nearly 60 years, until Ella's death in 2005. He then took up a post with Scottish Equitable in Glasgow, and became manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland for London Life.
He was a committed Christian and became an elder of the church in Langside Avenue, Glasgow, and then at Newlands South, where he went on to become session clerk.
His great interest outside work and family was Scottish Freemasonry. He followed his father and uncles by joining the Watsonian Lodge in 1946 and Glasgow Kilwinning Lodge No 4 in 1949, where he became the master in 1958/59. He was a member of the grand committee of grand lodge, then grand almoner and depute grand master. His interest in Masonic affairs led to international travel to Canada, Africa, Australia and Singapore.
When his wife was still alive the couple were involved in the affairs of the Glasgow branch of the Order of St John and he was secretary from 1982 to 1995. Their input was recognised when they were appointed Knight and Dame of the Order in 1993. Their son David and daughter Helen were invited to attend the dubbing in St James's Palace, where Ella was proud to have sat alongside Margaret Thatcher and had a great discussion about their mutual liking of designer buttons.
His main interest was his children, David and Helen, his grandchildren, Elizabeth, Elaine, Andrew and Helen, and his great-grandchildren, Sam, Jamie, Robbie, Max, Grace and Calum. He would closely follow all results, exam or sporting, and be there to lend support. As with many of his generation, he kept his feelings close to his chest. He would shout loud support when watching sport, but said little in one-to-one situations, yet the love he had for all the family was shown in many ways. His children used to say he never raised his voice except when singing at full volume.
When he was a widower he showed a remarkable ability to adapt. He managed for himself in the flat in Netherlee, with help from his family, and this allowed him to maintain an independent lifestyle. Failing health meant he had to give up his independence and moved to Marcus Humphrey House in Bridge of Weir, which he helped to set up in 1986. Despite his reservations about living in a home, he settled in and was happy, comfortable and well cared for. He hardly ever complained, although latterly, by his own admission, life was not much fun and he was exhausted. However, he did tell staff he had a great life.
He touched the lives of all who knew and met him. His family were greatly comforted at his funeral service in Newlands South church, by the number of people who expressed their appreciation of a well-respected member of the organisations with which he was involved, and of "a true gentleman".
He is survived by his son, David, his daughter, Helen Burton, and his four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
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